Aviation Terms Every Pilot Should Know
by Michelle Ward
With its complex aircraft, equipment and operating procedures, the aviation industry has naturally developed thousands of acronyms and slang words. For those new or relatively new to flying, it can be daunting to learn it all. If you’re a pilot, here are a few terms you should know.
Squawk — A squawk refers to something that’s wrong with the aircraft. Pilots generally keep a squawk sheet with a list of the minor issues they experience during aircraft operation. A squawk could be a sticky throttle or an unusual buzzing sound in the panel. It does not involve a major repair such as a dented cowling, and it never compromises safety such as when a tire is cut. Each squawk should include the details of who, what, when, where, why and how. This helps aircraft technicians troubleshoot the issue during the next regular maintenance interval.
Rotables — Unlike expendable or consumable parts, rotable aircraft parts can be repaired or overhauled and used again on aircraft.
AOG — An acronym for aircraft on ground, AOG refers to an aircraft that is unable to fly, usually due to an equipment failure or incursion of some kind. For those who specialize in providing quick-turn aviation maintenance, an AOG takes precedence because a grounded aircraft can cost an owner-operator dearly in productivity and lost business.
OEM — An acronym for original equipment manufacturer, OEM usually refers to the companies that design and manufacture aircraft and avionics. The term OEM is widely used in other industries, too, but in a slightly different way.
Recurrent Training — Pilots routinely attend recurrent training to maintain their skills and meet qualification requirements. Training intervals, which may be six, nine or 12 months, vary depending on the type of aircraft flown, the pilot’s certification, the country or region, and the regulatory agency requiring the training.
NBAA — Pronounced N-B-double-A by those in the aviation industry, the acronym informally refers to the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention and exhibition, one of the world’s largest civil aviation tradeshows held each fall. The organization, which represents companies that rely on general aviation aircraft of all sizes, uses the tradeshow to bring together current and prospective aircraft owners and operators, manufacturers and potential customers. During the three-day event, tens of thousands of attendees visit vendor booths, talk with aircraft and equipment representatives, learn about new products, tour aircraft on display, and network for possible business opportunities.
EASA — Typically pronounced E-AH-SUH by those in the U.S., EASA is an acronym for the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Union’s equivalent to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Based in Cologne, Germany, the agency oversees civil aviation certifications, regulations and safety standards for its 32 participating countries. Without common standards and regulations, flying between the various states in Europe would be cumbersome and expensive due to differing equipage requirements. EASA tends to adopt new safety standards more quickly than the FAA. Its actions can be a good indicator of future safety requirements in the United States.
Zulu Time — Pilots and air traffic controllers need a way to quickly and easily communicate time regardless of their location around the world. Therefore, they use Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). UTC, which represents the 0 hour, is the time by which all other time zones are measured. For example, Central Standard Time in the U.S. is -6 hours. The name Zulu arises from “zero,” and pilots’ use of the word Zulu as the letter Z in the phonetic alphabet. Zulu Time is also used in ship navigation.