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At one point or another during your air travels, you have probably overheard pilots or crew members knocking around some acronyms or spewing off words and phrases that did not make any sense to you. Maybe you caught a pilot discussing an upcoming “deadhead” flight, or you heard air traffic control radio in with a message about Roger or George.
Even if you have not heard these expressions on a flight, chances are, you have seen movies where this aviation jargon is thrown around. So why do they use these colorful phrases, where do they come from, and what do they mean?
The necessity of such terms grew out of pilots’ needs to quickly and efficiently communicate with each other, their flight crew, and air traffic control at all times. Because their messages can sometimes be complex or complicated, pilots rely on aviation slang words to help them deliver a clear and succinct message within the cabin and over radio transmission.
Many of the terms pilots use today are actually military terms, developed by the United States Air Force. In fact, much of this standardized slang incorporates special techniques, known as voice procedure, that help improve the clarity of messages over two-way radios. And because the English language is the official aviation language, you will hear this pilot lingo used all around the globe.
Whether you are an aviation enthusiast, meaning you have a passion for the world of jets, or you are simply an aircraft passenger looking to learn a little bit about pilot lingo, follow our list below to crack the code on aviation jargon.
Abort: Cancelling a mission to take off or land at the last minute
Air pocket: Turbulence
All-call: Instructions for all flight attendants to report on the intercom
AOG: Stands for aircraft on the ground
Area of weather: A big storm
Blowtorch: Jet engines
Deadstick landing: Landing an aircraft without power
Deadhead: When pilots or crew members fly on an airplane for work reasons but are off-duty.
ETA: Stands for estimated time of arrival
F/A: Flight attendant
Five by five: Term used to confirm the radio signal is loud and clear
First officer: Co-pilot
Flat out: Flying at full throttle
Flightdeck: Another term for the cockpit
Full throttle: Flying at full speed
George: Nickname for the automatic pilot system. Pilots will often say they are flying with George.
Grease it on: To make a perfect landing
Landing hot: When you land at higher-than-normal speeds
Over/out: Terms used to signify the end of a conversation over radio transmission, but you use one or the other. “Over” means “end of transmission, expect a response,” while “out” means “end of transmission, do not expect a response.”
PROP: The blast of air that comes out of the jet engines
Roger: Term used to confirm the message was understood and received
S.O.B: Souls on board or total number of people (crew and passengers) on the flight
Scrub: To cancel a flight
Stacked: When planes are stuck in a holding pattern, circling around, until it is their turn to land
Touchdown: When the jet makes contact with the ground upon landing
Transcon: Transcontinental flight
Weathered in: When an aircraft is grounded and cannot fly because of bad weather
Wilco: Means “I will comply,” given in response to instructions over radio transmission.
Because certain letters sound similar, especially over radio transmission, pilots use the NATO phonetic alphabet. Each letter of the alphabet has a word assigned to it. For example, someone could easily confuse the letter “B” for the letter “C” over the radio, so instead, pilots will use the word “Charlie” to signify the letter “C” and “Bravo” for “B.” Below you will find the entire alphabet listed:
NATO Phonetic Alphabet:
Ready to be an SOB on a transcon flight, cruising with George? Onboard your next private jet flight, listen for these words, phrases, and acronyms, and see if you can make sense of some of the pilot lingo for yourself. Reserve your jet with us at Charter Flight Group today, and we can have you in the skies within just a few hours of you contacting us.