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Glossary of Terms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

A (alfa)

ADF (Automatic Direction Finder) - An aircraft radio navigation system which senses and indicates the direction to a L/MF nondirectional radio beacon (NDB) ground transmitter. Direction is indicated to the pilot as a magnetic bearing or as a relative bearing to the longitudinal axis of the aircraft depending on the type of indicator installed in the aircraft. In certain applications, such as military, ADF operations may be based on airborne and ground transmitters in the VHF/UHF frequency spectrum.

Administrator - The Federal Aviation Administrator or any person to whom he/she has delegated his/her authority in the matter concerned.

Aircraft Approach Category - A grouping of aircraft based on a speed of 1.3 times the stall speed in the landing configuration at maximum gross landing weight. An aircraft must fit in only one category. If it is necessary to maneuver at speds in excess of the upper limit of a sped range for a category, the minimums for the category for that speed must be used. For example, an aircraft which falls in Category A, but is circling to land at a speed in excess of 91 knots, must use the approach Category B minimums when circling to land. The categories are as follows:
Category A - Speed less than 91 knots.
Category B - Speed 91 knots to 120 knots.
Category C - Speed 121 knots to 140 knots.
Category D - Speed 141 knots to 165 knots.
Category E - Speed 166 knots or more.

AIRMET - In flight weather advisories issued only to amend the area forecast concerning weather phenomena which are of operational interest to all aircraft and potentially hazardous to aircraft having limited capability because of lack of equipment, instrumentation or pilot qualifications. AIRMETs cover moderate icing, moderate turbulence, sustained winds of 30 knots or more at the surface, widesprea areas of ceilings less than 1,000 feet and/or visibility less than 3 miles, and extensive mountain obscurement. AIRMETs concern weather of less severity than that covered by SIGMETs or Convective SIGMETs.

Airport Elevation - The highest point of an airport's usable runways measured in feet from mean sea level.

A/FD (Airport/Facility Directory) - A publication designed primarily as a pilot's operational manual containing all airports, seaplane bases, and heliports open to the public including communications data, navigational facilities, and certain special notices and procedures. This publication is issued in seven volumes according to to geographical area.

Airport Rotating Beacon - A visual NAVAID operated at many airports. At civil airports, alternating white and green flashes indicate the location of the airport. At military airports, the beacons flash alternately white and green, but are differentiated from civil beacons by dualpeaked (two quick) white flashes between the green flashes.

ASR (Airport Surveillance Radar) - Approach control radar used to detect and display an aircraft's position in the terminal area. ASR provides range and azimuth information but does not provide elevation data. Coverage of the ASR can extend up to 60 miles.

Airway - A Class E airspace area established in the form of a corridor, the centerline of which is defined by radio navigational aids. An airway is 8 nautical miles wide, 4 nm on either side of the centerline.

Approach Gate - An imaginary point used within ATC as a basis for vectoring aircraft to the final approach course. The gate will be established along the final approach course 1 mile from the final approach fix on the side away from the airport and will be no closer than 5 miles from the landing threshold.

Approach Speed - The recommended speed contained in aircraft manuals used by pilots when making an approach to landing. This speed will vary for different segments of an approach as well as for aircraft weight and configuration.

ATC (Air Traffic Control) - A service operated by appropriate authority to promote the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic.

Autoland Approach - An autoland approach is a precision instrument approach to touchdown and, in some cases, through the landing rollout. An autoland approach is performed by the aircraft autopilot which is receiving position information and/or steering commands from onboard navigation equipment.
Note: Autoland and coupled approaches are flown in VFR and IFR. It is common for carriers to require their crews to fly coupled approaches and autoland approaches (if certified) when the weather conditions are less than approximately 4,000 RVR.

ASOS / AWOS (Automated Surface Observing System / Automated Weather Observation System) - Automated weather sensor platforms that collect weather data at airports and disseminate the weather information via radio and/or landline.

ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service) - The continuous broadcast of recorded noncontrol information in selected terminal areas. Its purpose is to improve controller effectiveness and to relieve frequency congestion by automating the repetitive transmission of essential but routine information; e.g., "Portland International information Alfa. One three zero zero Coordinated Universal Time. Weather, measure ceiling two thousand overcast, viibility three, haze, smoke, temperature seven one, dew point five seven, wind two five zero at five, altimeter two niner niner six. I-L-S Runway Two Eight Left approach in use, Runway Two Eight Right closed, advise you have alfa.

Available Landing Distance (ALD) - The portion of a runway available for landing and roll-out for aircraft cleared for LAHSO. This distance is measured from the landing threshold to the hold-short point.

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