Aviation english terminology for pilots: the usage of abbreviations and acronyms

A considerable part of aviation lexis is comprised by professional vocabulary and professional terms. Their structure and semantics, the aspects of term classification, problems of translation. The usage of abbreviations and acronyms in Aviation English.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 05.03.2019
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O.I. Moskalenko


A considerable part of aviation lexis is comprised by professional vocabulary and professional terms. Therefore linguists specializing in Aviation English attach great importance to the main features of term-formation, their structure and semantics, the aspects of term classification, problems of translation; they consider terminology as an important part of Aviation English. Proper translation of professional terms is the basis of professional aviation documents; it is an important means of intercultural communication in aviation environment.

The important aspects of aviation terminology are viewed in the article: term-formation by abbreviating, structural types of abbreviations and ways of aviation terms translation.

Key words: Aviation English, term, aviation vocabulary, abbreviation, shortening, professional text.

Значну частину авіаційного лінгвістичного фонду складає фахова лексика та професійні терміни. Тому лінгвісти авіаційної галузі надають великого значення вивченню закономірностей утворення термінів, їх структури та семантики, аспектам упорядкування, питанням перекладу, розглядають термінологію як важливу складову авіаційної англійської мови. Переклад фахової лексики становить основу перекладу професійних авіаційних документів, є важливим засобом міжкультурної комунікації у авіаційній галузі. У статті з'ясовано актуальні питання авіаційної термінології: термінотворення за допомогою абревіації, структурні типи абревіатур, способи перекладу авіаційних термінів.

Ключові слова: авіаційна англійська мова, термін, авіаційна лексика, абревіатура, скорочення, фаховий текст.

Значительную часть авиационного лингвистического фонда составляют профессиональная лексика и профессиональные термины. Поэтому лингвисты авиационной сферы придают большое значение изучению закономерностей образования терминов, их структуры и семантики, аспектам упорядочивания, проблемам перевода, рассматривают терминологию как важную составляющую авиационного английского языка. Перевод профессиональной лексики составляет основу профессиональных авиационных документов, является важным средством межкультурной коммуникации в авиационной среде. В статье освещены актуальные вопросы авиационной терминологии: образование терминов с помощью аббревиатур, структурные типы аббревиатур, способы перевода авиационных терминов.

Ключевые слова: авиационный английский язык, термин, авиационная лексика, аббревиатура, сокращение, профессиональный текст.

Research actuality. As global aviation grows, concerns are rising about English-language proficiency among foreign pilots and air traffic controllers. The statistics of aviation growth during last years, growing number of airlines and passengers capacity, confirm the necessity of high level of Aviation English proficiency. ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) must react swiftly to decrease of the amount of catastrophes. English was mandated as the language of international flying in the years after World War II, as commercial aviation expanded worldwide. Since then ICAO periodically releases language proficiency requirements resulting in higher English-language standards.

The formulation of the problem. The list of aviation catastrophes around the world that were caused primarily by language misunderstandings between air and ground is long and tragic. Different companies offer English- language to bring international pilots up to the Level 4 standard set for English by ICAO. Level 4 is defined as the level of English, where vocabulary and grammar are good, but also where "pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation" are adequate to communicate clearly and quickly in professional situations. English can be very tricky, not just in sound and meaning but in idiomatic forms that native English speakers take for granted. That's why specific software is being created to assess pilot's English in terms of their speech, word stress, fluency, grammar, pronunciation and comprehension. Professional terminology is an important part of Aviation English. Proper translation of professional terms is the basis of professional aviation documents; it is an important means of intercultural communication in aviation environment.

There is no doubt in the practical value of translation of English aviation terminology in safety of flights. According to the report of the Interstate Aviation committee, the appearance of airlines of CIS states on international airways has resulted in the considerable increase of aviation events and catastrophes due to lack of English language proficiency. One of the main reasons of aviation catastrophes is the insufficient understanding in the process of radio communication between pilots and controllers, improper translation of aviation terms and their transmission through radio communication channels. Different aspects of linguistic problems of term translation (etymology of term-formation; terminology antinomies; terminology synonymy and homonymy; term standardization; translation transformations and others) have been researched in scientific papers of B. Golovina, T. Kiyaka, In. Karabana, D. Lotte, Z. Kudel'ko, F. Citkinoy and other scientists.

The purpose of the article is the research of ways of translation of aviation terms, acronyms and abbreviations as an effective way of communication between pilots and controllers in professional aviation environment.

Main material. The research, which has been conducted on the basis of selection of aviation terms, the analysis of professional documents and dictionaries shows, that one of the most widespread ways of term-formation in aviation is abbreviation. An abbreviation is a short way of writing a word or group of words. Sometimes it is just a part of a full word. An acronym is a kind of abbreviation. It is a word formed from the initial or first letters of a group of other words.

Commonly used abbreviations in aviation are listed below and normally spoken using the constituent letters, rather than the spelling alphabet, except that those indicated by normally spoken as complete words. For example, ACC - Area control centre; ADF - Automatic direction-finding equipment; DME - Distance measuring equipment; ETA - Estimated time of arrival, LORAN - long-range air navigation system; MNPS - Minimum navigation performance specifications [1].

The ICAO Document 8400 "Procedures for Air Navigation Services. ICAO abbreviations and codes" contains abbreviations and codes approved by the Council of ICAO for worldwide use in the international aeronautical telecommunication service and in aeronautical information documents, as appropriate, uniform abbreviated phraseology for use in pre-flight information bulletins and data link communications, with the status of Procedures for Air Navigation Services. The principles applied in the formulation of ICAO abbreviations are [2: 7]:

• allocation of more than one signification to a single abbreviation should be avoided except where it can be reasonably determined that no instances of misinterpretation would arise;

• allocation of more than one abbreviation to the same signification should be avoided even though a different use is prescribed;

• abbreviations should make use of the root word or words and should be derived from words common to the working languages except that where it is impracticable to apply this principle to best advantage, the abbreviation should follow the English text;

• the use of a singular or plural form for the signification of an abbreviation should be selected on the basis of the more common use;

• an abbreviation may represent grammatical variants of the basic signification where such application can be made without risk of confusion and the desired grammatical form can be determined from the context of the message.

The construction and use of abbreviations is various. Letters' abbreviations are widely used in aviation terminology as text coding and technical terms [3]. Text abbreviations are used at frequent repetition of the term with the purpose of creating of the more compressed and logical text. In this case abbreviations are created by the initial letters of the term: act of unlawful interference - AUI - акт незаконного втручання; screeening checkpoint - SCP - контрольно-пропускний пункт; component test memo - CTM - перевірка знань льотного екіпажу [4]. abbreviation acronym aviation term

Another way of abbreviations in aviation is coding of the information. Such abbreviations either keep initial letters or consonants of a certain term, for example: A1 - відділ авіаційного штабу, начальник відділу or A1 - перший клас; B - Боїнг (літак); AN - Антонов (літак); Arr - arrival - прибуття; clb - climb - набирати висоту.

By the usage the abbreviations can be differentiated into several directions of aviation, such as: names of organizations, departments, commissions: ICAO - International Civil Aviation Organization - Міжнародна Організація цивільної авіації; NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration - Національна адміністрація з повітряної навігації та простору; CAA - Civil Aviation Authority - Повноважний орган цивільної авіації. Some international English abbreviations are often pronounced in the same phonetic form as in English pronunciation. For example, ICAO is pronounced as [ai'keo] in Ukrainian as well as in English.

Also, there are well-known aviation abbreviations, which are widely used at flight operations and air traffic control: RVSM - Reduced vertical separation minimum - скорочений мінімум вертикального ешелонування; AIP - Aeronautical information publication - збірник аеронавігаційної інформації.

Technical acronyms are the most difficult part of aviation abbreviations, which takes a considerable part of professional texts. Aeronautical fixed telecommunications network (AFTN) - Мережа для координації з питань виконання польотів і обслуговування повітряного руху - uses internationally recognized aviation acronyms, especially in reports about aircraft movement. For example, FPL - flight plan - план польоту; ARR - Arrival - прибуття; DEP - Departure - відправлення; SID - Standard Instrument Departure - стандартна схема вильоту. Besides, some general English phrases are used in aviation context, such as: ISO - instead - замість; ADZ - advise - порада; TKS - thanks - дякую.

The acronyms and abbreviations of commercial sphere of aviatin has its specific features. Mainly they concern commercial aspects of flight: transportation of passengers and cargo. The examples of the usage of such terms are: ALL IN - all inclusive - все враховано; C - cargo - вантаж; AWB - Airway Bill - авіаційна вантажна накладна; DGR - Dangerous Goods - небезпечний вантаж; HEA - Heavy Cargo - важкий вантаж; ALI - Live Animals - живі тварини [5: 86].

It is known that the translation of ICAO documents and other professional organizations is connected with considerable difficulties, taking into account the correspondanse of the aviation terminology and the therminology of the language of translation. It is necessary to point out the main ways of translation of aviation abbriviations and acronyms, namely [6]:

1) the translation by the corresponding acronym, which can be found in the language of the translation as its equivalent, for example, FL - ЕП (flight level - ешелон польоту);

2) the translation by the corresponding professional expression, for example, GA - general aviation - авіація загального призначення;

3) the translation by the way of transcoding: AFIL - air-filed flight plan - АФІЛ - план польоту, переданий з борту літака; INSERFA - uncertainty phase - ІНСЕРФА - стадія непевності (при аварійній ситуації);

4) the translation by the description if there is no corresponding equivalent in the language of the translation: INAD - особа, якій відмовлено у в'їзді до держави відповідними повноважними органами;

5) the translation by the creation of a new abbreviation: RWY - runway - ЗПС - злітно-посадочна смуга;

6) the direct translation of the abbreviation: the aircraft types - B737-- 200; engine types - RTM322.


So, due to the increasing of air traffic the necessity of high safety standards is taking place in the world aviation. The research of the professional aviation English terminology is based on the studying of the appropriate ways of term-formation, usage of abbreviations and acronyms. Aviation terminology is still developing; that is why it is more effective to apply all ways of professional translation for full and adequate understanding in the process of pilot-controller's communication.

Therefore, we think that further researches can be conducted in the aspect of standardization of English and Ukrainian aviation terminology and the development of aviation term system.


1. Мурашевич A.M., Владимиров О.H. Англо-русский словарь сокращений по авиационной и ракетно-космической технике (English-Russion aviation and space abbreviations dictionary) / A.M. Мурашевич. - M. : Воениздат, 1981. - 344 с.

2. Procedures for Air Navigation Services. ICAO abbreviations and codes: ICAO Doc 8400. - Eighth Edition. - ICAO, 2010. - 109 p.

3. Д'яков A.C. Основи термінотворення: Семантичний та соціолінгвістичний аспект / А.С. Д'яков, Т.Р. Кияк, З.Б. Куделько. - К.: Вид. дім "KM Academia", 2000. - 218 с.

4. Марасанов В.П. Англо-русский словарь по гражданской авиации (English-Russion dictionary of civil aviation) / В.П. Марасанов. - 2-е изд. - M.: Скорпион-Россия, 1996. - 560 с.

5. Авіаційна англійська мова для льотного складу (на основі документу 9835 і рекомендацій Mіжнародної авіаційної транспортної асоціації (IV рівень)) / під редакцією A.M. Вітряка. - Кіровоград, 2007. - 242 с.

6. Mельниченко С.С. Перевод английских авиационных терминов / С.С. Mельниченко // Новости аэронавигации. - 2003. - № 1. - С. 24-26.

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