Aircraft Maintenance Technology: Learn the Terminology You Need


Interested in becoming an aircraft maintenance technician? As an aircraft maintenance technician, you will need to be familiar with lots of aircraft terminology. Developing an aviation-related vocabulary is important for diagnosing problems with an aircraft or communicating maintenance needs with the flight crew. Aircraft terminology is also used by pilots, flight attendants, the tower, and traffic controllers. Taking the time to learn this terminology is important for aircraft maintenance technicians to communicate with aviation colleagues.

Below are some flight and aircraft terminology that helps aviation maintenance technicians to keep the flight crew and passengers safe and the aircraft in good working condition.

Flight Terminology

Aviation Maintenance Technicians should understand certain important terms related to aircraft flight, so they understand how the aircraft is performing while in the field. These terms will also help aircraft maintenance technicians talk with colleagues and pilots to prepare aircraft for safe travel. Understanding the right terminology will give the aircraft maintenance technician confidence to repair and maintain aircraft safely.

Aerodynamic Coefficient – non-dimensional coefficients for aerodynamic forces and moments.

Air Traffic Clearance – an authorization by air traffic control to prevent collision between multiple aircraft and for an aircraft to proceed under specific traffic conditions within controlled airspace.

Autorotation – a rotorcraft flight condition where the lifting rotor is driven by the action of the air while in flight.

Auxiliary Rotor – a rotor that is used to counteract the effect of the main rotor torque or to maneuver about one or more of the three principal axes.

Brake Horsepower – the term for the power delivered at the propeller shaft of an aircraft engine.

Calibrated Airspeed – the indicated airspeed of an aircraft, corrected for position and instrument error.

Ceiling – the term for the height between the earth’s surface and the lowest layer of clouds.

Critical Altitude – the maximum altitude at which it is possible to maintain a specified power or specific manifold pressure.

Final Approach Fix (FAF) – the beginning of the final approach and the point where final descent may begin.

Flap Extended Speed – the term for the highest speed permissible with wing flaps in an extended position.

Load Factor – the ratio of a specified load to the total weight of the aircraft.

Manifold Pressure – absolute pressure as measured at the appropriate point in the induction system.

Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) – the term for the lowest altitude specified in an instrument approach procedure.

Over-The-Top – above the layer of clouds or other obscuring phenomena forming a ceiling.

Pilotage – navigation by visual reference to landmarks.

Pitch Setting – the propeller blade setting as determined by the blade angle measured in a manner, and at a radius, specified by the instruction manual for the propeller.

Reference Landing Speed – the term for the speed of the airplane at the point where it descends through the 50-foot height in the determination of the landing distance.

Reporting Point – a geographical location in relation to the position of the aircraft reporting.

Stopway – an area beyond the takeoff runway able to support the aircraft during an aborted takeoff without causing structural damage to the aircraft.

YAW – the term for the side-to-side movement of an aircraft on its vertical axis.

Aircraft Terminology

The are many different parts of the aircraft that make up the airframe from the fuselage to the cockpit, engines, and tail components. Keeping an aircraft in working order will help keep passengers safe and aircraft flying for many years to come. Knowing aircraft maintenance terminology will allow aircraft maintenance technicians to work in a team, while each teammate maintains and repairs a part of the whole aircraft.

Aileron – increases or decreases lift asymmetrically to change roll and move the aircraft left or right while in flight.

Booms – contains fuel tanks and a supporting structure for external ancillary items.

Cockpit – holds the command and control section of the aircraft.

Cowlings – the removal cover of an aircraft engine.

Elevator – increases or decreases lift on the horizontal stabilizer symmetrically in order to control the pitch motion of an aircraft.

Fairings – an added structure used to streamline an aircraft and reduce drag.

Flap – adjusts the camber of the wings, increasing lift.

Flight Deck – Another term for the cockpit, located at the front of the aircraft where the pilots sit and fly using instrument panels.

Fuselage – the main body of an aircraft that holds the crew, passengers, and cargo.

Horizontal Stabilizer – helps maintain stability while in flight.

Landing Gear –  the term for the wheels or pontoons that the aircraft rests on while not in the air.

Nacelles – the outer casing of an aircraft engine.

Rudder – the hinge that allows the plane to turn left and helps in controlling the direction of the aircraft.

Slat – adjusts the angle of the wings, increasing lift.

Spoiler – adjusts the camber of sections of the wings, decreasing lift.

Vertical Stabilizer – prevents lateral movements of the aircraft.

Wing – helps with balancing and maintains the aircraft’s stability during flight.

Final Thoughts

Learning aircraft maintenance terminology is important when you talk with colleagues and pilots. This terminology will also come in handy to keep passengers safe in the aircraft that you are responsible for maintaining. Knowing these terms can help keep you, your colleagues, and passengers safe around aircraft, while they fly and during maintenance.

Do you want to learn more about the science behind air travel and the way aircraft is engineered? Want to learn about the professional skills and terminology needed to work in a rewarding career in aviation maintenance? The Aviation Maintenance Technician Program from MIAT College of Technology provides the hands-on training, practical experience and industry support it takes to pursue a rewarding technical career.

To learn more about Aviation Maintenance Technician Program and to explore if MIAT is right for you, fill out the form on this page. Contact us if you are interested in becoming an aviation maintenance technician today.

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