Confused by all of the aviation phrases and data terms used in our database? We have created this quick guide to explain some of the terminology found on our airport pages.
Every country in the world has a 2-letter abbreviation code (ISO 3166) which is defined by ISO (International Organisation for Standardization). The reason that codes are used to identify countries and regions is that these will stay the same, no matter what language is used, as names of locations can sometimes become lost in translation.
Further reading: iso.org
World Area Codes (WAC)
Numeric codes used to identify geopolitical areas such as countries, states, provinces, and territories or possessions of certain countries. The codes are used within the various data banks maintained by the Office of Airline Information (OAI) and are created by OAI.
Further reading: transtats.bts.gov
The IACO code is an alphanumeric, 4 character code designating airports, weather domes, International Flight Service Stations and Area Control Centres around the world. The codes are designated by the International Civil Aviation Organization and are primarily used by Air Traffic Controllers.
Further reading: icao.int
IATA Airport Codes
IATA (the International Air Transport Association) set the standards that are required to be met by those in aviation industry. These 3 digit codes act as a location identifier for each airport around the world.
Further reading: iata.org
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) designate an alphanumeric, 3-5 digit code to all aviation related bases in the USA. These are again used as location identifiers.
Further reading: faa.gov/airports/
GMT & UTC
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the time set by the Royal Observatory in London, it’s a fixed time all year and does not switch to daylight savings time. Although replaced as a time standard by atomic time (UTC), GMT is still widely regarded as the standard time zone in many countries, including some in Africa and Western Europe.
Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC) is measured using atomic clocks and is regarded as a time standard, rather than a time zone. This means that it is the basis for civil time across the world today and no one country uses it as their local time.
Further reading: greenwichmeantime.com and timeanddate.com
The length of the longest runway measured in feet.
Important note for pilots: We cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the runway lengths.
The elevation in feet measured from Mean Sea Level (MSL). Used to calculate the air density for takeoff and landing. The less dense the air, the more speed (or less weight) you need for takeoff, to create enough lift.
Latitude and Longitude data
Measured in GPS (Global Positioning System) data values. GPS is a system that was developed by the US Armed Forces for positioning and time purposes. On a map, the globe is divided into rectangles, like you may have seen in an atlas or on a map. As our planet is nearly spherical, the lines make it possible to determine any point on the surface of the earth, and describe it in degrees, minutes and seconds.