Provide Written Technical Specifications In A Clear And Unambiguous Fashion Is an Aircraft an Aeroplane Or the Other Way Round? The Importance of Proper Terminology

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Is an Aircraft an Aeroplane Or the Other Way Round? The Importance of Proper Terminology

Word game

A lot of material related to air traffic management goes through our hands, often to check the quality of content and consistency of terminology. There is a disturbing trend that is becoming more and more evident with the passage of time. The document shows a worse level of quality in terms of the use of terminology.

Why is this a problem? Unless they are sensitive about the subject, the authors of those documents may be particularly uncomfortable with the fact that they use the terms aircraft, aircraft or aircraft interchangeably in their text, they may also feel that the use of different words shows better. the way But in technical documents, the terms used must all have their correct definition and it is not enough to look up a certain word in a Webster’s Dictionary.

Let’s look at these three words, plane, plane and plane. They are all English words and all mean something that flies. Very true. But there are many things that “fly,” from hot air balloons to helicopters and, depending on how you define “flying,” even hovercraft. So how do we know that a text is actually quoted if it is not clear from the context?

If you see a piece of text that says “a flashing white light will be displayed on all aircraft” and then another text that says “a flashing white light will be displayed on all aircraft” and you have a helicopter, glider and heat Friday. air balloon, which one will you need to install based on the first requirement? And the second?

Although I assume you know the answer without the explanation below, it is still interesting to look at these terms in detail.

First of all, we should say good about the word “aircraft”, at least in an international context. Only aircraft and aircraft are designated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

An aircraft is any machine capable of receiving support in the atmosphere from the reaction of the air in addition to the reaction of the air against the earth’s surface.

An airplane is a powered heavier-than-air aircraft that derives its lift in flight mainly from aerodynamic reactions on surfaces that remain fixed under certain flight conditions.

So what do these definitions tell us? A hovercraft is not an airplane (reactions of the air against the surface of the earth) and a glider is not an airplane (driven by power) but it is an airplane. A balloon is an airplane but not an airplane… and so on.

As you can see, expressing the needs, the suitability of the infrastructure and the desired services requires the use of the right terminology, otherwise things quickly become unclear, leading to misunderstandings and endless debates.

We used the terms airplane and aircraft (the subject of the most common mistakes) as examples, but there are many other terms that can cause serious comprehension problems if used incorrectly or inconsistently.

A few simple rules can help

Using the correct terminology is not rocket science. It requires good knowledge of the subject and a bit of discipline. Here are some simple rules that can help.

If there is an ICAO designation for something, use it. ICAO has developed definitions for terms that are used in aviation regulations worldwide. The use of terms defined by ICAO provides immediate benefits in terms of compatibility with ICAO documents and documents derived from them. Those definitions are also in agreement.

If there is no ICAO definition but there is a definition from another major organization, use it. In some cases ICAO may lag behind developments and may not (yet) have a definition for a term or the term may not be used in ICAO provisions. However, some other organization may have developed a commonly accepted or standardized definition. In such cases, this familiar definition should be used and the source should be clearly identified. There may be several definitions from different sources… use the one that seems most appropriate but use it consistently everywhere.

Create your own definition. In some cases you may find that a concept that no one has yet defined needs to be understood in a specific way and only in that way. Create your own definition and use it consistently throughout your documents. It’s also a good idea to test and develop your new definition. If you needed it, others probably did. The more widely it will be used, the better for overall consistency.

When a term has many meanings. A great example of this is airside and ground, two terms that divide an airport into two, one that you can call the general area and one that is restricted to passengers and staff only. The problem is, there are at least two schools of thought on where the dividing line is between air and ground forces. Although the dividing line is always artificial and arbitrary, its exact position makes a difference to the processes that extend across the division. In such cases feel free to decide which position of the dividing line is best for you, however, always clearly define where the boundary between air-side and land-side (or other side of which requires the specified term). A clear sign minimizes the negative effects of this type of multiple use.

Be consistent. Perhaps the most important rule is to be consistent. There’s only one thing worse than using undefined or ill-defined terms and that’s using words on an inconsistent document. Inconsistent use of technical terms is the surest way to confuse the reader.

What about abbreviations?

Few disciplines in the world are as adept at creating acronyms as aviation. When we talk, the uninitiated might think that we use some kind of secret code language… Worse, we assume that each of us knows all the acronyms from every part of the business but in fact CUTE (Common User Terminal Tools ) might mean nothing to an air traffic controller while ATIS (Automated Terminal Information Service) might look like a four letter word to a control agent. To senior executives, who may come from the financial world, neither CUTE nor ATIS can say much except that they have a price tag against them… So what to do with the acronyms?

Here again the main rules are: Always use approved abbreviations and always be consistent. Include a list of abbreviations in all technical documents and write words in full (following the abbreviation) the first time they are used in the text.

Avoid creating new abbreviations. Of course this is not always possible, if nothing else, there are new workgroups, new processes, new equipment and they all have their own easy-to-remember names. So, go ahead and come up with new acronyms but try to avoid reusing acronyms that are already well established. You may feel that your field is stronger and you will eventually take out the other guy, but trust me, ignoring this will only confuse everyone.

What if you write in your national language?

The guidelines are the same whether you are writing in English or your national language. However, they may not be as easy to implement if the terminology is not yet established in your language with the same level of detail as it is in English. There may be opportunities to be a leader in enriching the local language with necessary new terms… In some cases the constant effort and new terms on the professional writing scene may not be easy and not appreciated by your peers. Use good arguments and examples like the ones above to convince them of the importance of using the correct terminology.

Responsible for SESAR, NextGen and SWIM

Experts in Europe and the United States are busy writing the blue prints for the next-generation SESAR and NextGen air traffic management systems. Those systems will introduce new concepts, new technologies and new processes, each with its own terms and abbreviations.

Systems Wide Information Management (SWIM) is something that focuses on ideas first introduced in the field of public information technology, with SWIM applying these things in an aviation context.

All of the above activities will create tons of new documents that must be consistent throughout, both in terms of old and new definitions and abbreviations that they will introduce. Their responsibility is enormous if we consider that the SESAR and NextGen documents will define what it is called and what we mean for decades to come.

Get it wrong or inconsistent and future generations will long struggle with conflicting, disparate terminology.

The new documents we see today are cause for concern and show signs that people are ignoring the simplest rules of using terminology. They need to remember that at the end of the day, we’re all going to need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether we should put that flashing white light on the particular flying machine we own. Only consistent, correct terminology can help in decision making…

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