Pilots have their own secret language. They really say that (2023)

UEIf you've ever walked through the cockpit while boarding a plane and tried to listen to snippets of its pilots' conversation, you probably haven't heard much about them. From terms like "Niner" to "Zulu", pilotspeak can sound like your own language.

While most of the phrases used by flight crews arose from the need for clear and concise communication via an occasionally garbled radio transmission, there are also more colorful phrases that pilots say were invented in the skies and widely used, according to aviation experts among employees. .

"A lot of the way we say things that mean things to other pilots is kind of mono-see, mono-do," says Ferdi Mack, senior manager of the Pilot Information Center, of the use of jargon in the job. “Part of your challenge is to understand it and understand it.” And flight crews often use the same pilot jargon in slightly different ways.

(Video) The Secret Language of Pilots

So if you've ever wondered what your flight crew is talking about, this overview of pilot jargon could save you years of flight training.

"Let's kick the tires and light the fires"

Famousvoiced by Harry Connick Jr. inindependence Day, the military term, indicates that aThe plane is about to take off.says Mark Baker, a 35-year-old commercial pilot and current president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Once the crew has completed the pre-flight equipment inspection, it's time to fire up the engine and take to the skies. Today, however, pilots are told much more often that the plane is "cleared for takeoff" in the interest of brevity, especially on commercial flights.

"wet feet"

This phrase alerts air traffic controllers when a military plane (usually a Navy carrier pilot) is flying over water, says Tom Haines, a private pilot and editor-in-chief of AOPA Pilot magazine. In the event that the aircraft encounters an emergency afloat, such as B. in a combat zone, controllers can use the appropriate rescue boats based on the aircraft's location. After a plane crosses the coast and comes back overland, they report to air traffic control that they have "dry feet," Haines adds.

"We have a Deadhead team flying to Chicago"

Whatever it is, it's not an offense: Off-duty pilots or crew who board a commercial airliner as passengers to fly back to the plane's home base are called "deadheads," Haines says. "Deadheading" is fairly common: If a flight crew lands at their destination but needs to depart from another airport for their next shift, an airline can fly the off-duty crew there as long as seats are available, he says.

On rare occasions, a dead crew may disembark paying passengers. United Airlines sparked a customer service frenzy when a viral video captured a passengerviolent removalfrom an overbooked flight to accommodate four dead United crew members. Airport security dragged a bloodied David Dao down the aisle of the plane after he refused to give up his seat. Two security officers were fired after the incident, and United already has.concludedbribe Dao.

(Video) 27 Pilots' Phrases Passengers Know Nothing About

"There's a pilot sitting in the booster seat"

If there are no seats available in the passenger cabin, they can claim an additional folding seat in the cabin.cabin, known as the "Jumpseat". Most of the jump seats are reserved for FAA inspectors or off-duty crew returning to their home base, says Ross Aimer, a retired United Airlines pilot with 40 years of experience.

"You're basically begging to get a ride on your airline or someone else's to go to work," Aimer says. Several airlines also offer free pop-up seats for pilots on other airlines.

"It's 5:00 pm Zulu time"

Frompilotsyou can cross multiple time zones in a single trip and must communicate with air traffic controllers around the world, aviators follow "Zulu Time" or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the universal time zone of the sky, says Aimer . GMT is the time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. So, for example, if it's 2am in London, it's 2am "Zulu time" for any pilot in the air.

However, to avoid confusion among passengers, pilots refer to their destination time zone when speaking to passengers over the intercom.

"George is flying the plane now"

There is a "George" on almost every plane, but he is not a member of the crew. "George," according to Aimer, is a nickname for an airplane's autopilot system, which follows a series of programmed waypoints to the flight's destination, taking into account changes in turbulence and altitude. Pilots often use George to direct the plane when it reaches cruising altitude or after they have flown more than 10 hours when they need to rest.FAA regulationsfor two-pilot aircraft.

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"We fly through an air hole"

Aviators are shy of turbulence, beware: "air pocket" is just another word for winds that push a plane from different directions. Aimer says the term "air pocket" causes lessPaniccon "turbulence' among the passengers.

"As soon as we say 'turbulence,' people freak out," says Aimer. "We use 'air bags' to calm [passengers]."

The direction and strength of the winds also tend to change the duration of a trip, depending on the direction: If the plane is flying in strong winds, it can land anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour early, depending on the duration, says Aimer Reise. If you are flying against the wind, passengers may need to plan for a longer flight.

"Tree", "Whistle" and "Nine"

Airmen often speak "pilot English" to avoid misunderstandings on the radio. For example, "tree" means three, "fife" is the number five, and "nine" means nine, says Tom Zecha, manager of AOPA. The variations arose from a desire to avoid confusion between similar-sounding numbers, he says.

"Give Juice to the Crew"

After a long day in heaventeam membersoften they need to relax, sometimes they have to get used to a whole new time zone. "Juice" refers to a cocktail that Kathy Lord-Jones, a former flight attendant and cabin safety expert for American Airlines, describes as a "[alcoholic] beverage mix" left over from a flight. Crew members are prohibited from drinking while on duty; Instead, they share the "juice" at the end of their "work day," or full shift, which begins with airport check-in and ends with hotel check-in, Lord-Jones says.

"Crime Crime"

hello airpassengersYour pilots will probably never use this reserved term for communication with air traffic controllers. When pilots notice something unusual about a plane stopping just before an impending emergency, they use "pan-pan," a signal of urgency and attention, Baker says. For example, if one of the engines on a multi-engine plane fails, pilots may say "pan-pan" to get the attention of air traffic controllers and request an emergency landing.

(Video) Top 3 Easiest Languages to Learn

When pilots use that signal, other airmen on the same radio frequency usually "shut up and let you get your message across," Baker says, allowing air traffic control to provide appropriate assistance and prevent an in-flight crisis.

"There are 155 souls on board"

The number of "souls" on a plane refers to the totality of living bodies on the plane: allPassenger, pilot, flight attendant and crew member, according to Lord-Jones. Pilots often report the number of "souls" when calling 911, she says, so first responders know the number.Peoplelook for.

Correction:The original version of this story misrepresented the meaning of some aviation phrases.Zulu time is a 24-hour system, not a 12-hour system. "Souls on board" refers to all living bodies on the plane, not just the passengers.

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