What is Form Drag? | Aviation Glossary

In aerodynamics, there are various categories of drag used to provide a distinctive classification of different types. Due to the depth and complexity often surrounding the aerodynamics of an airfoil, it is necessary to clarify the enforcing drag types present. Form drag can be defined as the drag created following the departure of airflow (known … Read more

How Common Are Touch and Go Landings?

During the landing phase of flight, there are numerous outcomes that may occur depending on a number of factors. On a scheduled commercial flight, the most common outcome is a full stop landing. However, for numerous reasons outlined below, there are instances in which an aircraft may perform a touch-and-go landing. How Common Are Touch … Read more

Configuration Deviation List (CDL) | Aviation Glossary


A Configuration Deviation List (CDL) is a list published by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of an aircraft design that states external components on an aircraft that are not required for the aircraft to remain airworthy. The external components stated on the CDL are non-critical parts of the aircraft which are not required for the … Read more

Airport Mapping Database (AMDB) – Functions and Features


An Airport Mapping Database, also known as AMDB, is a system which outlines the layout of an airport. The map consists of a detailed and accurate rendering of the exact positioning of airport infrastructure such as runways, taxiways, aircraft gates and terminal facilities.  The primary use of AMDB systems is to provide directional guidance to … Read more

Flaperons | Aviation Glossary


On fixed-wing aircraft, there are numerous aerodynamic devices installed which serve a number of functions. These functions include the generation of lift and drag across the airfoil. Two of the aerodynamic devices found on aircraft are flaps and ailerons. Flaps being lift-generating devices in which the chord of the wing can be changed while also … Read more

Noise Abatement | Aviation Glossary

In areas surrounding most airports, there is typically an initiative undertaken by various stakeholders with the objective of mitigating noise pollution. This noise pollution can be apparent in areas in which aircraft arrive and depart on a frequent basis. Known as Noise Abatement, it is typically delivered through a set of procedures which document and … Read more

What is an Acceptance Flight? | Aviation Glossary

what is an acceptance flight

Outside of commercial operations, aircraft are required to undergo a series of non-revenue test flights to verify particular aspects of airworthiness. The requirement to ensure airworthiness of an aircraft can be sought by different personnel or organizations. A term used to describe such test flights are referred to as an “Acceptance Flight”, in which the … Read more

What Does DECEL Mean? | Aviation Glossary

During the descent and approach phase of flight, there is a transition and shift in relation to the speed and altitude of the aircraft. During the approach and landing phases, there is a need for the aircraft to decelerate in terms of airspeed in order to enter the necessary landing configuration – this includes the … Read more

Autobrake RTO Mode

Autobrake systems on aircraft provide automated deceleration functions during the take off and landing phases of flight. On sophisticated commercial aircraft, this automation reduces the workload for the flight crew while also ensuring the braking power applied is at a smooth and sufficient rate. The deceleration and braking power applied depends on the required stopping … Read more

CFM56 vs IAE V2500 – Airbus A320 Family Engine Types

On the Airbus A320 family, there are 2 engine types available: the CFM International CFM56 and the IAE V2500. There are numerous characteristics to both engine types which suit particular sets of operations. As of 2022, approximately 65% of Airbus A320 aircraft types are powered by CFM International CFM56 engines while the remaining 35% are IAE … Read more

Airbus Flaps/THS Setting

On the Takeoff page on the MCDU, the takeoff configuration is entered into the FMS. This takeoff configuration comprises settings such as takeoff flaps, horizontal trim setting, FLEX TO temp, and V-speeds (V1, VR, V2). On the R3 section of the MCDU, there is an option for FLAPS/THS. This is short for Flaps/Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer. … Read more

Airbus Flex TO (Takeoff) Temperature

What is Flex Temperature? Flex (short for flexible) temperature is an Airbus-centric term used to describe the use of derated thrust takeoff procedures. Similar to the DERATE setting found on Boeing Aircraft, the FLEX Takeoff (TO) Temperature setting found on Airbus aircraft allows flight crews to select a pre-determined takeoff thrust setting that is below … Read more

What Happens If a Commercial Airliner Stalls?

An aerodynamic stall occurs when an airfoil is no longer able to produce sufficient lift, in which airflow over and under the wing breaks away. Stalls occur when the critical angle of attack (AoA) of the airfoil is exceeded. The angle of attack (AoA) may be defined as the angle between the chord line of … Read more

GRABCARD – The IFR Acronym You Need to Know


In the aviation industry, there are a plethora of acronyms that pilots use to remember key elements of checklists and procedures. In the world of IFR, there is a criterion in regards to onboard equipment that is required to be operational when flying on instruments. Perhaps the most useful acronym to keep in mind when … Read more

High Intensity Runway Lights (HIRL)

Runway lighting systems are separated into categories based on their specifications. This range of specifications includes lighting intensity. On runways that are equipped for night operations and low visibility weather conditions, there will be a series of runway intensity lighting settings available. The intensity settings can be controlled by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower … Read more

Airbus Engine Mode Selector Crank

On Airbus aircraft, the engine ignition system is controlled via a singular switch that controls the engine start process. This system involves feeding air to the air-starter, which starts the rotation of the engines. Under most operating conditions, the air source fed to the air-starter will be Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) bleed air. If the … Read more

Airbus Detents and Autothrust (A/THR) System

From the A320 series onwards, the throttle and power setting system on Airbus aircraft is designed to maximize efficiency, safety, and fuel economy. This is achieved via an intricate computer-based management autothrust system (A/THR) integrated in line with the Airbus Fly By Wire (FBW) system. Airbus Autothrust (A/THR) System  As part of this systems architecture, … Read more

Cabin Altitude and Aircraft Altitude – Aircraft Pressurization

On aircraft which fly at high-level altitudes, pressurization systems are required in order for the occupants to breathe. Pressurization systems are comprised of a balance between providing sufficient oxygen levels to those onboard while placing minimal stress on the aircraft’s structure. With these pressurization systems, there are numerous terms used to address the key components … Read more

Why do Some Airports have 2 or More Runways?

At major commercial airports around the world, it is not uncommon for there to be more than one runway in use at a given time. Airport infrastructure such as airport terminals, taxiways, and runways are the key factors for controlling the flow of passengers through the airport. As a result, there are multiple reasons behind … Read more

A320-100 vs A320-200: Key Differences Between the Types

The Airbus A320 family is considered the most commercially successful narrowbody aircraft of all time. With over 10,000 aircraft produced since the type’s introduction in 1987, the aircraft has evolved in terms of technical specifications and performance. A pivotal element of the aircraft series is the difference between the -100 and -200 variants of the … Read more

Unmonitored NAVAID – What Does It Mean?

In IFR conditions, navigation is performed via a network of navigational aids (NAVAIDs) which can provide vertical and lateral guidance to an aircraft. In Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), there is a high degree of dependency placed on these NAVAIDs in terms of the safe navigation of the aircraft. NAVAIDs such as VORs are comprised of … Read more

ILS and MLS – Differences, Advantages, and Disadvantages


ILS is by far the most commonly available instrument approach available in North America and Europe. The precision and ubiquitous infrastructure of this system make it ideal for instrument approaches. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a prospective replacement for ILS emerged in the form of a system known as the Microwave Landing System … Read more

ILS X/Y/Z – What’s the Difference?

On Instrument Approach Charts (IAPs), there are often instances in which the specific ILS approach is followed by a suffix, these suffixes can fall under letters -X, -Y, or -Z. So, what are the differences and reasoning behind these designations being assigned? According to Chapter 4 of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Instrument Approach Guide, the … Read more

Difference Between ILS And LOC

Under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), there are a number of different instrument approaches which may be performed, depending on the airport’s infrastructure and the aircraft’s capabilities. Two forms of instrument approaches are an ILS – short for Instrument Landing System, and LOC – which stands for the localizer. The difference between an ILS and LOC … Read more

Difference Between SMOH, TBO, and SFOH

When recording specific technical details pertinent to an aircraft and/or components, there are numerous abbreviations used to measure certain maintenance parameters. Two of the most commonly used terms which are often seen on aircraft records are SMOH (Since Major Overhaul) and SFOH (Since Factory Overhaul). The key difference between these two terms is that SMOH … Read more

Difference Between VOR and NDBs

In air navigation, pilots make use of various forms of navigational aids en route and on approach. Two particular forms of navigational aids are VORs (Very High-Frequency Omnidirectional Radio Range) and NDBs (Non-Directional Beacons). The major difference between the two is the high degree of accuracy of VORs when compared to NDBs. NDBs require the … Read more

Difference Between VOR and VORTAC

VOR station

In relation to navigational aids, there are various forms of equipment utilized. The various navigational aids available have different functions and operational uses. The key difference between a VOR and VORTAC is that the VORTAC merges the VOR and TACAN stations into one navigational aid. A VORTAC station consists of the two stations (VOR and … Read more

Advantages of Squawking 7700

During an in-flight incident, there may be a need for the aircraft to land as soon as possible due to an emergency. In this instance, pilots will select an internationally recognized signal on the transponder to communicate this. This code is 7700 – a code used to indicate an aircraft in a general emergency. This … Read more

Difference Between Semi-Monocoque and Monocoque Structures

The difference between a monocoque and semi-monocoque structure is the way in which they absorb and carry flight loads. A semi-monocoque structure is comprised of structural elements which “carry” the flight loads and stress on the structure of the aircraft. Monocoque structures consist of a design in which only the skin of the aircraft carries … Read more

What does Bingo and Joker Fuel Mean?

bingo fuel

In aviation terminology, there are a plethora of phrases which represent various terms across the industry. Two terms which may be encountered are “bingo” and “joker” fuel. These terms are regarded as informal and not recognised officially by authorities. These phrases are mostly associated with military aviation, in which they had their origins. However, the … Read more

“What’s Our Vector, Victor?” | What Does it Mean?

whats our vector victor meaning

From a phrase quoted in the 1980 comedy film Airplane, “What’s Our Vector, Victor?” refers to the captain of the aircraft requesting instructions from Air Traffic Control (ATC). Although the exact phrase “Vector, Victor” is a humorous attempt at alliteration in the film dialogue, there is an actual technical context to this phrase. Aviation phraseology … Read more

Why Are Airport Runways So Expensive?

why are airport runways so expensive?

If you have ever read the financial breakdown of investments made by airports, it is apparent that a major portion of capital is spent on infrastructures such as runways and passenger terminals. These 2 pieces of infrastructure are typically the most expensive overheads for an airport on both initial and recurring investment basis. They are … Read more

Can I Have My Own Airstrip?

can i have my own airstrip?

For most aircraft owners, building and operating your own airstrip is typically not possible. However, you can build your own airstrip on the basis that you have sufficient land, finances, and that you comply with aviation authorities in your jurisdiction. In the United States, there are estimated to be 14,500 active private airstrips. These airstrips … Read more

What is Contact Flight? | Aviation Glossary

contact approach

There are various forms of navigation available to aircraft. These types of navigation can be based on the instruments displayed in the cockpit and/or by external sources such as visual references outside of the cockpit. Contact Flight Contact flight involves navigating the aircraft via Visual Flight Rules (VFR), using visual landmarks and reference points to … Read more

Do Aircraft Serial Numbers Change? | Difference Between an Aircraft Registration and Serial Number

LH A380

In aviation terminology, there are often various terms used to describe specific aspects of an aircraft’s details. These terms are important for reference and record keeping purposes, as they provide information about the aircraft to the relevant authorities or groups which require it. Two of the most specific terms associated to an aircraft are its … Read more

Why Do Planes Accelerate When Landing?

KLM Embraer at Dublin Airport

During the landing phase of flight, it is not uncommon to feel the aircraft “accelerating” close to a touchdown. This feeling of acceleration can occur due to several factors. In most instances, however, the feeling of the aircraft accelerating during landing is due to the pilots making small corrections to the thrust settings to counteract … Read more

Straight Wing Advantages | Wing Design

Kingair at Budapest

Perhaps the most conventional wing design used on early aircraft, the straight or rectangular wing design has many advantages aerodynamically. However, these advantages are also dependant on the type of aircraft. Being the airfoil of the aircraft, a rectangular wing design has many inherent characteristics which make it advantageous for specific forms of flight. The … Read more

Boeing B737-800 Approach Speeds | Standard Approach Profile

TUI 737 at Bristol Airport

The approach speed and profile for the Boeing 737-800NG depends on several variables like any aircraft. However, there is generally a typical profile that most operators tend to use for the type. An important element in this regard concerns the flap settings most commonly used by operators. It is common for a Flap 30 approach … Read more

A320 Fuel Burn Per Hour | Airbus A320 Fuel Consumption

Perhaps one of the most important metrics for measuring capability and performance, the fuel consumption of an aircraft is a primary factor in fleet selection. With a strong push for reducing carbon emissions and minimizing operating costs, airlines seek aircraft which are fuel-efficient. A320 Fuel Burn Per Hour The A320 Current Engine Option (CEO) burns … Read more

Can an A320 Fly Over The Atlantic? | Narrowbody Transatlantic Operations

Wizzair A320 at London Luton Airport - June 2019

With thousands in service worldwide, the Airbus A320 series is one of the most commercially successful narrowbody aircraft in aviation history. Designed for short to medium-haul routes, the aircraft type can be found predominantly operating continental routes in Europe, North America, and Asia. With a range of approximately 3,300 nautical miles, the Airbus A320 on … Read more

Can Planes Land in Zero Visibility? | Aircraft Autoland

During adverse weather conditions in which there is fog, aircraft may be landing and approaching an airport in which there is minimal visibility with the runway. In modern commercial airliners, there is an Autoland feature that can be activated during low visibility, in which the aircraft effectively lands itself under the guidance of the autopilot. … Read more

Do Planes Fly Lower at Night?

You may be wondering if the time of day affects the ability of aircraft to fly at the same altitudes in which they fly at during the day. Planes don’t fly lower at night; they have the same cruising altitudes as to what they fly at during the day. There is no safety reason for … Read more

Can A Plane Fly Without Wings?

Can Planes Fly Without Wings?

It would be hard to picture the typical passenger airliner flying without its wings. But is it possible? For most aircraft designed, it would be impossible for them to fly without wings. Wings provide lift and directional stability to the aircraft. They are also attached to key aircraft components such as engines, hydraulic lines, and … Read more

Is The B787 Dreamliner Safe? – A Complete Analysis

Is the B787 Safe? - A Complete Analysis

Back in the mid-2000s, Boeing unveiled the latest aircraft developments for the future of its long-haul aircraft. The Boeing 787 project was announced, a new wide-body long-haul airliner that aimed to provide ultimate passenger comfort while providing airlines with a quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. The aircraft type intended to replace the aging Boeing 767 and … Read more

How Do Airplanes Brake in the Air?

Aircraft spoiler

Airplanes can slow down or brake in the air by increasing drag. Drag is defined as the force which acts to oppose an aircraft traveling through the air. As aircraft are designed to be streamlined and aerodynamic as possible, devices are needed to slow the aircraft down when required. How do Airplanes Brake Mid-Air? These … Read more

How Often are Planes Replaced?

How often are planes replaced?

Like any piece of machinery, commercial aircraft reach a stage in which they need to be replaced by younger, more efficient aircraft. The exact age in which an aircraft is retired varies however it is normal for an aircraft to fly for 25-30 years. However, there are outliers to this statistic. Why do Planes get … Read more

Do Planes Count as Public Transport?

Planes count as public transport if they are operated by an airline that carries fare-paying passengers. However, there are other forms of transport carried out by an aircraft which would not be classed as public transport. How are Planes Defined as Public Transport? As mentioned already, planes typically are categorized under public transport if members … Read more

Do Planes Carry Cars?

Can Planes Carry Cars?

Passenger planes can transport cars in the cargo hold (the section of the aircraft located below the cabin). Dedicated cargo aircraft can carry cars and even larger vehicles on their main decks, due to the larger amount of cargo capacity available. Is it Hard to Transport a Car on a Plane? Although it’s entirely possible … Read more

What is an Aircraft Flight Control Check?

An aircraft control check is an essential safety check carried out by the pilots of an aircraft. A control check (also known as a flight control check) involves moving the control column of the aircraft in all possible directions to ensure proper functionality. If flight control surfaces are visible from the cockpit, pilots can look … Read more

Do You Have to Be Smart to Be a Pilot?

Sunset over Dublin Airport

It’s obvious that the field of aviation demands a lot of time and commitment, but do you have to be smart to be a pilot? The short answer is no, but the details can be a lot more complicated than that. Being a pilot is, by no means, a simple task, and you’ll need to … Read more

How Much Snow Does It Take to Cancel a Flight?

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 - Cork Airport

You’ve probably heard that bad weather can affect a scheduled flight. Chances are, you’re one of the many passengers who experienced a delayed flight because of too much snow. So, how much snow does it take to cancel a flight? Well, canceling a flight isn’t based on how much snow there is, but on how … Read more

X on a Runway or Taxiway – What Does It Mean?

As set out by the regulatory authorities, airport ground markings are used to identify and outline runways, taxiways, and airport facilities. While active taxiways and runways are typically displayed and allocated using a variety of white symbols, there are some airport marking designations that differentiate active and decommissioned runways and taxiways. What Does an X … Read more

The Costs of Building a Runway

An integral part of any airport’s infrastructure, the construction of a runway is a significant investment. The intricate planning and construction of a runway can easily take several years, depending on various factors. But how much does it actually cost to construct a runway? The figures discussed in this article are based on constructing runways … Read more

FBOs and MROs – What Are They?

In the aviation industry, various facilities and services are provided to aircraft and their personnel. In both the commercial and non-commercial sectors of aviation, there are facilities known as FBOs and MROs which fulfill different services for operators and aircraft owners. Known as a Fixed Base Operator (FBO), FBOs generally provide services to General Aviation … Read more

Nutcracker System – Gulfstream IV/V

Nutcracker Switch - Gulfstream IV

A system specific to the Gulfstream IV/V aircraft series, the nutcracker switch is located aft of the thrust levers in the cockpit. The primary function of the nutcracker system is to verify the spoiler deployment mode in which the aircraft is configured to.  Upon extension of the landing gear on approach, the flight crew will … Read more

Calculated Take Off Time (CTOT)

In congested airspaces, Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) have several frameworks which help to manage the air traffic flow across a country or region. European airspace is a primary example of a region that encounters heavily congested traffic conditions. Due to the complexity of European airspace consisting of over 25 individual ANSPs, a set of … Read more

Step Climb

During the pre-flight phase, the flight crew of the aircraft conducts flight planning for the flight. As part of this flight planning, the routing, weather, speeds, and cruise altitude are determined. For a conventional short to medium-haul flight, a cruising altitude is filed as part of the flight plan. In some instances, in which the … Read more

Top of Climb (T/C)

top of climb

What is Top of Climb (T/C)? Top of Climb, commonly abbreviated as T/C or TOC, is the calculated point at which the aircraft reaches its cruising altitude.  At the Top of Climb, the aircraft levels off and is neither descending nor ascending; the climb phase of flight has now been completed.  It is important that … Read more

Top of Descent (T/D) Calculations

What is Top of Descent (T/D)?  In en-route flight management and planning, Top of Descent (T/D) is the calculated point during a flight in which the aircraft begins descent for the arrival airport. Top of Descent (T/D) can be calculated either manually or automatically.  On modern commercial aircraft, T/D calculations are performed automatically by the … Read more

Inertial Navigation System (INS) and Inertial Reference System (IRS) – Differences and Functions

Commercial aircraft navigation systems consist of processes which provide a positioning system to the aircraft. These positioning systems communicate with the onboard navigation systems. This communication allows the exact location of the aircraft to be identified. In order to achieve accurate positioning, aircraft are equipped with Inertial Reference Systems (IRS) or Inertial Navigation Systems (INS). … Read more

Time of Useful Consciousness (TUC) | Aviation Glossary

Time of Useful Consciousness (TUC) refers to the duration of time in which sufficient cognitive function is maintained between loss of standard oxygen levels and the onset of hypoxia.  The higher the altitude levels, the lower the Time of Useful Consciousness will be, thus reducing the response time to counteract the loss of sufficient oxygen … Read more