Up, Up in The Air: Learn the Pilots’ Lingo

Like most industries, the aviation sector has its own set of jargon.

It’s a language they use to converse with colleagues and move around the business, and would sound strange or even foreign to those outside the industry.

Here are some of the commonly used terms and phrases in aeronautics, to help you get less confused when you hear them: Who knows? They may come in handy, one day.


  • Synonymous to the word “help,” this term originally came from “m’aidez,” a French word which literally means “help me.” It’s used to send messages of distress via radio communications, and usually indicates life-threatening emergencies.


  • This is another way to say, “Affirmative!” or “I’ve heard you.”


  • The practice of pilots and crew members verifying tasks assigned to one another.


  • A method of not using the radio in an unrestrained location.


  • Pilots travelling as passengers.


  • A term used for technical difficulties that stop planes from flying.


  • A special type of jargon between pilots and Air Traffic Controllers. The Aviation Alphabet has the same letters as the regular set of alphabet but they are represented with words. These words become code that spell out important information that pilots and control tower personnel need to exchange. The Aviation Alphabet is as follows:

A – Alpha

B – Bravo

C – Charlie

D – Delta

E – Echo

F – Foxtrot

G – Golf

H – Hotel

I –   India

J –  Juliet



K – Kilo

L –  Lima

M – Mike

N – November

O – Oscar

P  – Papa

Q  – Quebec

R  – Romeo

S  – Sierra



T – Tango

U – Uniform

V – Victor

W – Whiskey

X  – X-Ray

Y – Yankee

Z –  Zulu



The Aviation Alphabet is used as a universal code among pilots around the world. For example, air traffic controllers and pilots use it to help keep aircraft on the right track for take-off or landing.  Here’s a hypothetical exchange:

WCC Air Pilot:

“Manila Tower, WCC Air 143 Romeo Golf  ready for takeoff.”


Air Traffic Control Tower:

“WCC Air 143 Romeo Golf taxi via taxiway Foxtrot and hold short Runway 18 Left.”


WCC Air Pilot::

“Roger that, Manila Tower. Now taxiing via Foxtrot. Holding short of Runway 18 Left.”


In this exchange, WCC Air 143 RG identifies the aircraft, while F (Foxtrot) specifies which taxiway the aircraft should take.

Learn more about the exciting world of the aviation industry at WCC Aviation. We offer comprehensive, world-class learning and training to help you achieve success in the aviation sector. For more details, visit WCC’s website.


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