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Aviation Glossary

Say again? You’ve probably noticed there’s a lot of jargon used in aviation. Here’s a guide to some of the most common acronyms and terms you’ll come across during pilot training.


Agencies and Authorities

ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organisation

EASA – European Aviation Safety Agency

CASA – Civil Aviation Safety Authority (Australia)

CAA – Civil Aviation Authority (UK)

FAA – Federal Aviation Authority (USA)


Pilot Licences

Part-FCL are the EASA Flight Crew Licences.


The licences are:

LAPL(A) – Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (for restricted leisure flying in smaller single engine piston aircraft only)

PPL – Private Pilot License

CPL – Commercial Pilot Licence

IR – Instrument Rating

MEP – Multi-Engine Piston Rating

MEIR – Multi-Engine Instrument Rating

MPL – Multi Crew Pilot Licence

fATPL – ‘Frozen‘ Airline Transport Pilot Licence (a colloquial term for a CPL+MEP/IR + APS MCC)

ATPL – Airline Transport Pilot Licence

APS MCC – Airline Pilot Standard Multi Crew Cooperation Course

Licences are further classified by aircraft type, the main two being aeroplanes (A) and helicopters (H).


Other Training Courses

Rating – An additional qualification associated with a licence. E.g. The CPL gives the pilot the privileges of of being able to fly for money. The addition of an MEP allows the pilot to do it in a twin engine aircraft.

SEP – Single Engine Piston Rating

MEP – Multi Engine Piston Rating

Night Qualification

IMC – Instrument Meteorological Conditions Rating (allows a PPL holder to fly in IMC within the UK within certain minimums)

CRM – Crew Resource Management

Type Rating – the qualification undertaken by a fATPL holder in order to fly a particular aircraft type (eg. B737)

LST – Licence Skills Test (flight test at the end of your type rating)

Line Training  – (Flying under supervision as the final part of type training)

Base training (take off and landings in the aircraft required for the issue of a type rating)

Line Check  – (check flight conducted at the end of line training)

LPC – Licence Proficiency Check (annual check for the revalidation of your type rating)

OPC – Operator Proficiency Check (a 6 monthly check by the airline. In practice, very similar to an LPC)

UPRT – Upset Prevention and Recovery Training


Training Organisations

ATO – Approved Training Organisation (formerly known as FTO)

CTKI – Chief Theoretical Knowledge Instructor

CFI – Chief Flying Instructor

TKI – Theoretical Knowledge Instructor

FI – Flight Instructor

Integrated pilot training – zero hours to fATPL with one ATO

Modular pilot training – Individual licences completed to fATPL, step by step at one or more ATOs.

Ab Initio – ‘from the beginning.’  (Usually refers to pilot training which takes a student from zero to qualified, or a person with no previous experience.)

MPL – Multi-pilot licence. (A professional pilot qualification designed for a specific airline and a specific aircraft type)

The regulating authority (ie. EASA in the UK, CASA in Australia) must approve all pilot training organisations (ATOs) and a student must be formally registered with one in order to train as a commercial pilot.



AME – Aeromedical Examiner

Class 1 Medical – Full medical (required for CPL, MPL and ATPL)

Class 2 Medical – Medical (required for PPL)

Medicals must be conducted by an approved AME; doctors with specialist aviation medicine training. They are certificated by the CAA to carry out aircrew medical examinations and to give aviation medicine advice, as necessary.


Terms you will hear during training 

ATC – air traffic control

CRP 5 – a manual flight computer

IFR – Instrument Flight Rules

IMC – Instrument Meteorological Conditions

VFR – Visual Flight Rules

FTD – Flight Training Device

Ground School – theoretical knowledge training, also known as ATPL theory

FMC – Flight Management Computer

SOP – Standard Operating Procedures

IELTS – International English Language Training Standard

ICAO Level 4 – Minimum ICAO Standard for English Language proficiency for ATPL.

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