Select Page

Last month I wrote a blog about popular airline jargon and the various definitions. This month, I’m going to continue that trend and teach you eight new words. With the help of Patrick Smith, and his book the Cockpit Confidential, here are the next few terms in this series.

Pilots and flight attendants have slightly different meanings to the term “final approach.” According to the pilot, the final approach is when the airplane is on its last straight segment of the landing pattern. Simply put, the plane is aligned with the center of the runway for landing. If you were to ask a flight attendant the meaning of “final approach,” they may tell you it’s the last portion of the descent.

As outlined in my past blog, the copilot and the captain are both well equipped and know how to fly the plane. However, the first officer, often referred to as the copilot, sits to the right and is second in command. The first officer will alternate shifts with the captain in the event of a long flight where the captain will need to take a break.

The flight-deck is another term for the cockpit, where the pilots sit.

The flight level is how many thousands of feet the aircraft is above sea level. If you hear the pilot come over the intercom saying “we’re at a flight level of three-six-zero,” what he’s telling you is that you are 36,000 feet above sea level.

The gatehouse refers to the gate area in the terminal and around the boarding lounge.

A ground stop is called by air traffic control when the destination your aircraft is headed for is either backed up due to a traffic backlog or bad weather.

When you’re flying in a holding pattern, the aircraft is traveling in a racetrack-shaped course. This is typically used when there are traffic delays or inclement weather. Aeronautical charts have published holding patterns; however, they can also be improvised almost anywhere in the sky.

When the flight attendants announce from the gatehouse that the plane you’re waiting to board is “in range,” what they mean is that the pilot has sent an electronic message letting them know they’ve started the descent. This doesn’t take into account any inbound taxi congestion so as a good rule of thumb, it’s best to take the flight attendant’s guess of when you’ll be boarding and tack on another 20 minutes.