Aviation Dictionary

On this page you will find a searchable and comprehensive alphabetical list of aviation terms. You can help us make it the most comprehensive list in the world. If we have missed anything, click on the ‘send us your word’ button to send us your word, acronym or definition and we will consider adding it to our dictionary.

Aviation Dictionary: P

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PAL Pilot-activated lighting
Pan-Pan An emergency distress call that is urgent, but for the time being does not pose any life threatening danger. A  pan-pan can be upgraded to a mayday
PAPI Precision approach path indicator
Parachute Landing Area An area established to want pilots of potential parachutists falling in a particular area. Extreme care is needed when operating near any parachuting activity as they can be hard to spot, and may also land at the incorrect designated spot, may drift over a runway or may be in the general flight path of an aircraft on landing or take-off.
PBN Performance based navigation. For aircraft operating along an ATS route, instrument approach procedure or in designated airspace for area navigation based on performance requirements
PCN Pavement classification number
PEC Pressure error correction
PF Pilot flying
PIF Private instrument flight
PIFR Private IFR rating
PIO Pilot induced oscillation
PIC Pilot In Command is the pilot who is responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft.
Pitch The rotational movement of the aircraft across the lateral axis and is controlled by the elevator.
Pitot tatic System - A system that provides the pressure instruments with the required pressure to operate.
Pitot Tube A pipe-like object that is forward facing and has a small inlet where air can pass through and can be brought to rest. This creates total pressure and is sent to the ASI
PL Ice Pellets
PM Pilot monitoring
PNR Point of no return
PO Dust/Sand whirls
POH Pilot operating handbook
Power Lever Also referred to as a Thrust lever or Throttle lever and is the primary way a pilot controls the amount of fuel that is supplied to the engine.
Power Sandwich This occurs during a turn when load factor is being introduced. As the load factor increases, there is an increase in stall speed. While in a turn, drag is increased, which effectively decreases airspeed. The power sandwich occurs between the decrease in airspeed and increase in stall speed, because power needs to be added to combat the increased drag to maintain a margin over the stall speed. To calculate a new stall speed with an increased load factor, we can use √g x stall speed = new stall speed with increased load factor.
PPL Private Pilot Licence
PR Partial (covering part of the aerodrome)
PRD Prohibited, Restricted, Danger area
Precipitation Any form of moisture that is released from the atmosphere. Examples are: dew, frost, hail, rain , snow and other similar variants and they form by condensation and fall under gravity.
Pre-flight Briefing A period of time before a flight that the pilot spends preparing for the flight. This can be looking at weather reports and NOTAMS, calculating weight and balance, submitting flight plans and anything else required on the day.
Pre-flight Inspection An inspection of the aircraft that is done before flight, to make sure that the aircraft is airworthy and has enough fuel and oil for the flight.
Pressure In aviation, pressure is the atmospheric pressure which is measured in Hectopascals (Hpa). Pressure can have a major effect on aircraft performance and is directly related to temperature.
Pressure Altitude The altitude displayed on the altimeter when it is set to the standard ISA pressure of 1013 Hpa or 29.92 in mg. This setting is only used above the transition altitude.
Pressure Instruments There are three primary pressure instruments,VSI, ASI and altimeter
Primary Controls These are the main controls that are used to manoeuvre the aircraft. They are the Ailerons, Elevator and Rudder.
Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Allows you to fly for fun and for your own business anywhere in Australia in an aircraft up to 5400kg
Prohibited Area An area of airspace which you may not enter
Propeller A device that is fitted to the front of a piston aircraft and is turned by the engine to create a propulsive force which creates either a pulling or pushing force, which enables the forward movement of an aircraft. Propellers can be either Fixed Pitch or Variable Pitch and have a minimum of 2 blades but could have as many as 14!
Propeller Clearance The distance from the tip of the propeller to the ground. 
PUS Permissible unserviceability

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