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Aviation English Terminology

Aviation English Terminology

Just like any profession, there are regulatory requirements for aviation professionals. The first thing that comes to mind is flight testing, but aviation professionals have to pass more than just that. Aviation professionals must have a proficiency in the English language, especially when it comes to English aviation terminology. In order to display this proficiency, prospective aviation professionals are required to pass the English for Aviation Language Testing System (EALTS) test.  

The EALTS is an internationally recognized test of English for Aviation provided in support of the 2008 ICAO language proficiency requirements. Language Testing & Assessment Services (LTAS), the adjudicators of the EALTS, say that their examination is “Valid, reliable, practical and independent, [it] offers regulatory authorities, aircraft operators and air navigation service providers a means of language proficiency assessment for license endorsement purposes.” 

The test consists of multiple parts; the EALT Test of Speaking and the EALT Test of Listening. The test is taken in pairs (with an examiner) and contains a multitude of tasks. There is a three-step speech evaluation to go along with a listening test. The listening test is a computer mediated adaptive test of voice-only aural comprehension. Your EALTS examination is expected to take approximately 60 minutes to complete.  

The EALTS website does host a listening test demonstration on their site, but how you prepare for the EALTS is up to you. There are self-study tools that can help; however, a good place to start (below) is by learning the aviation English alphabet, as well as the common terminology used in aviation. 

Aviation English Alphabet 

Below is the aviation English alphabet, A to Z: 

A – Alfa 

B – Bravo 

C – Charli 

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 

Common Terminology in Aviation 

Below is a list of common aviation terms one should be accustomed to if they plan on entering the business of flight: 

Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)

A publication by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that instructs pilots how to operate correctly in the US National Airspace System. There are separate guides for the USA and Canada. The AIM is the official guide to flight information.  

Air Traffic Control (ATC)

A service operated by the authorities to ensure the safety of air traffic. Air traffic controllers reside in a ground-based ATC facility direct aircraft in their area during take-off, landing, and while flying in the airspace. 


Stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited, which indicates the ideal flying conditions, with a visibility of at least 10 miles and a ceiling of at least 10,000 feet. 

Emergency overrun

A surface before the take-off area on the runway that is kept clear. This portion is designed to minimize damage to an aircraft if it is unable to stop. 

Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)

A national authority in the United States that regulates all aspects of civil aviation. 

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

The statutory corporation which oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom. 

Ground control

The personnel and equipment in a control tower who are responsible for the safe and efficient movement of aircraft on the ground. 

Mean sea level (MSL)

The average height of the surface of the sea. MSL is used in aviation to measure altitude. 

Short field

A short runway length at the airport that requires a pilot to take off or land an aircraft within the shortest possible distance. 

True airspeed

Also called “TAS”; the speed of an aircraft as it moves through the air. The number is corrected to account for temperature and altitude. 

Zulu Time

A term for Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time. All flight plans use Zulu Time. 

Still, as useful as it is to know all of the above information, preparing for EALTS using online preparation courses is the best route to approach your examinations. For example, there are aviation language and preparation courses available online through OI Digital Institute. Our preparation courses will equip you with the knowledge, language and techniques to confidently take your EALTS tests. 

OI Digital Institute is a trusted service that provides the best quality education and outcomes for students and partners. We are also the only institution working directly with LTAS to develop and deliver online Aviation English preparation courses. We also offer in person testing at Greenwich school in London and will make sure students have the necessary resources to take their EALTS test. 


The EALTS is the language proficiency testing system developed and administered by Language Testing & Assessment Services (LTAS). LTAS has been approved and certified by UK CAA as complying in all respects with the Test Service Provider requirements contained in ICAO Doc 9835 Manual on implementation of the ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements. 

Oxford International is recognised by the UK CAA as an EALTS Local Test Centre and is the only institution working directly with LTAS to develop and deliver online preparation courses and testing at all levels of language proficiency.  

To discover our English for Aviation Preparation course, click here

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