There is an interesting aspect to our fascination with acronyms, abbreviations, and technical terms. They change. They warp, mutate, merge, split apart, shorten, and re-define themselves. Nouns become verbs, and vice-versa. Acronyms become the accepted noun, and then they themselves become verbs.
Sometimes an obvious mistake becomes the accepted term. One famous example - in announcing the new reconnaissance-strategic (RS) spyplane, President Lyndon Johnson accidently called it the SR-71, not the correct RS-71. His subordinates promptly changed the name in all the documentation, manuals, press releases, and the like. Another example - the collection of avionics on an aircraft is properly called the "avionics suite" (say "sweet"), but some bosses and military leaders could not pronounce that apparently-difficult word. To this day you will hear people say "avionics suit" instead. Would you like a nice avionics tie to go with that avionics suit?
Often the terminology changes are deliberate, because somebody wants to attach a new and fancy name to what they are doing...or selling. Don't forget the effects of political correctness - what we used to call a "drone" became a "UAV" which meant "Unmanned Air Vehicle." But now we have to call it an "Uninhabited Air Vehicle." Could be worse - at least we avoided calling it a "UPAV" ("UnPersoned Air Vehicle"). So far.
But, don't try to fight it! You can't win, arguing against the latest craze in terminology. Learn it, use it, and have a good laugh. When you really can't stand it anymore, do what I do - check out to the daily Dilbert cartoon.
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A : Aspect Ratio of Wing A : Helicopter rotor disk area AAA : Anti-Aircraft Artillery ABC : Activity-Based Costing A/C : Aircraft ACC : Advanced Carbon/Carbon (used for high temp) AFRSI: Advanced Flexible Reusable Surface Insulation (TPS) ACM : Air Combat Maneuvering AEW : Airborne Early Warning AF : Air Force AFB : Air Force Base AFMC : Air Force Material Command AFRL : Air Force Research Lab AGM : Air-to-Ground Missile AH : Attack Helicopter AIM : Air Intercept Missile AIM : Airmans Information Manual ALCM : Air-Launched Cruise Missile AMPR : Airframe Manufacturers Planning Report AMRAAM: Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (now AIM-120) ANSI : American National Standards Institute AOA : Angle of Attack APU : Auxiliary Power Unit ARM : Anti-Radiation Missile ARPA : Previous/alternate name for DARPA (see below) ARPANET: Internet predecessor ASM : Air-to-Surface Missile ASPJ : Airborne Self-Protection Jammer ASRAAM: Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile ASTOVL: Advanced Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing (JSF/F-35 predecessor program) ASW : Anti-Submarine Warfare ATB : Advanced Technology Bomber (B-2 predecessor program) ATC : Air Traffic Control ATD : Advanced Technology Demonstration ATF : Advanced Tactical Fighter (F-22 predecessor program) AWACS: Airborne Warning and Control System BDA : Bomb (or Battle) Damage Assessment BFL : Balanced Field Length BINGO: Fuel state at which a pilot must begin to return to base BINGO: A game - a special version involves acronyms and buzzwords BIT : Built-In Test BL : Boundary Layer BMI : Bismaleimide (high temp composite material)
CAD : Computer Aided Design CADAM: Computer Augmented Design And Manufacturing (early Lockheed CAD system) CAIV : Cost as an Independent Variable CAM : Computer Aided Manufacturing CAP : Combat Air Patrol CAS : Close Air Support CAS : Calibrated Airspeed CATIA: Computer-Aided, Three-D Interactive Application (high-end CAD system) CAW : Carrier Air Wing CCC : Command, Control, & Communications ("C-cubed") CDRL : Contract Data Requirements List CER : Cost Estimating Relationship CFD : Computational Fluid Dynamics CG : Center of Gravity CLIN : Contract line item number CNA : Center for Naval Analysis (think-tank for USN) CO : Commanding Officer COD : Carrier On-Board Delivery COIN : Counter-Insurgency COTS : Commercial Off-The-Shelf (no development required) COTS : Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (NASA program for manned space launcher) CS : EASA Certification Specifications (like FAR's) CTOL : Conventional Take-Off and Landing CV : Aircraft Carrier, Heavier-than-Air Aircraft CVN : Aircraft Carrier, Heavier-than-Air, Nuclear Powered DAB : Defense Acquisition Board DAPCA: Development and Procurement Cost of Aircraft (RAND cost model) DARPA: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DATCOM: Data Compendium (USAF aerodynamics methodology report) DCMC : Defense Contract Management Command DCPR : Defense Contractors Planning Report DISA : Defense Information Systems Agency DMSO : Defense Modeling and Simulation Office DoD : Department of Defense DOF : Degree of Freedom DSB : Defense Science Board e : Oswald's Span Efficiency Factor EAP : Experimental Aircraft Program (Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 predecessor) EAS : Equivalent Air Speed ECCM : Electronic Counter-Countermeasures ECM : Electronic Countermeasures EFA : European Fighter Aircraft (Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 predecessor) EHP : Equivalent Horsepower ELT : Emergency Locator Transmitter EASA : European Aviation Safety Agency (like FAA) ESHP : Equivalent Shaft Horsepower (horsepower including residual thrust) ELINT: Electronic Intelligence EMP : Electromagnetic Pulse EW : Electronic Warfare
F/A : Fighter/Attack FAA : Federal Aviation Administration FAC : Forward Air Control FAR : Federal Aviation Regulations (flight & certification specs) FAR : Federal Acquisition Regulations FB : Fighter-Bomber FBW : Fly by Wire FEM : Finite Element Method (usually for structural analysis) FFRDC: Federally funded research and development center (like RAND) FLA : Future Large Airlifter (European C-130 replacement project) FLIR : Forward-Looking Infrared FOD : Foreign Object Damage FSW : Forward-Swept Wings FY : Fiscal Year GA : General Aviation GA : Genetic Algorithm (optimization method) G&A : General and administrative (overhead expenses) G&C : Guidance & Control GAO : General Accounting Office GCA : Ground Controlled Approach GCI : Ground Controlled Interception GLOW : Gross Liftoff Weight (Wo for rockets) GPS : Global Positioning System HALE : High Altitude Long Endurance HARM : High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile HE : High Explosive He : Helium Helo : Helicopter HGI : Hot Gas Ingestion HOTAS: Hands On Throttle and Stick HUD : Head-Up Display IAS : Indicated Airspeed ICAO : International Civil Aviation Organization IDA : Institute for Defense Analysis (think-tank for DoD) IFF : Identification Friend-or-Foe IFR : Instrument Flight Rules IFR : In-Flight Refueling ILS : Instrument Landing System INS : Inertial Navigation System IPPD : Integrated Product and Process Development IPT : Integrated Product Team IR : Infrared IRST : Infrared Search and Track ISO : International Standards Organization Isp : Specific Impulse (rocket propellant consumption =3600/SFC) ISR : Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (missions & equipment)
JAR : Joint Aviation Requirements (European flight & certification specs) JASSM: Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile JAST : Joint Advanced Strike Technology JATO : Jet-Assisted Take-Off JDAM : Joint Direct Attack Munition JP : Jet Propellant (kerosene-based fuel) JSF : Joint Strike Fighter (project leading to F-35) JSTARS: Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System JTIDS: Joint Tactical Information Distribution System kips : kilo pounds (=1,000 lbs, fps unit of force or weight in 1-g field) kp : kilopond=kilogram_force=9.8N (non-SI-standard unit of force in 1-g field) KISS : Keep It Simple, Stupid (attributed to Ed Heinemann, designer of A-4) KPP : Key Performance Parameter LANTIRN: Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night L/D : Lift to Drag Ratio LGB : Laser-Guided Bomb LLLTV: Low-Light-Level Television LOX : Liquid Oxygen LTA : Lighter Than Air LWF : Lightweight Fighter M : Mach Number Mcr : Critical Mach Number Mdd : Drag Divergent Mach Number MAD : Magnetic Anomaly Detection (finds submarines) MAD : Mutually Assured Destruction MAD : Magazine MECO : Main Engine Cut Off (shutdown) MDO : MultiDisciplinary Optimization or Multidisciplinary Design Optimization MDAO : Multidisciplinary Design, Analysis, & Optimization MOA : Military Operation Area MOE : Measure of Effectiveness MOP : Measure of Performance MRF : Multirole Fighter (JSF/F-35 predecessor program) MS : Milestone (on a schedule) MSL : Mean Sea Level MTOW : Maximum Takeoff Weight MZFW : Maximum Zero Fuel Weight n : Load Factor NAS : Naval Air Station NASA : National Aeronautics & Space Administration NASTRAN: NASA Structural Analysis NAV : Navigation NAVAID: Navigational Aid NAVSAT: Navigation Satellite NC : Numerically controlled NIH : Not Invented Here (unspoken reason for rejection) NOTAR: No Tail Rotor (helicopter) NPV : Net Present Value NS : Navier-Stokes (high-end CFD) NURBS: Non-Uniform Rational B-Spline (curve equation for CAD) NX : Siemens (previously Unigraphics) high-end CAD system O&S : Operations and Support OEM : Original Equipment Manufacturer OEI : One Engine Inoperative
PDT : Product Development Team PPPI : Pre-Planned Product Improvement ("P-cubed I") pre-preg: Pre-Impregnated (composite materials) ProE : Pro/Engineer (high-end CAD system) q : Dynamic Pressure (of oncoming air) QFD : Quality Function Deployment RAND : RAND Corp. -Research ANd Development (think-tank for USAF) RAND : Research And No Development (funnier version) RATO : Rocket-Assisted Take-Off RCS : Radar Cross Section RCS : Reaction Control System (small thrusters for control) RDS : Raymer's Design System (aircraft design software) RDT&E: Research, development, test, and evaluation RFI : Request for Information (usually unpaid) RFP : Request for Proposals RFQ : Request for Quotations Recce: Reconnaissance Recon: Reconnaissance RPM : Revolutions per minute RP : Rocket Propellant (kerosene-based fuel) RPV : Remote-Piloted Vehicle RWR : Radar Warning Receiver SAM : Surface-to-Air Missile SAR : Search and Rescue SAR : Synthetic Aperture Radar S&C : Stability and Control SEAD : Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses SDI : Strategic Defense Initiative SFC : Specific Fuel Consumption SHM : Structural Health Monitoring SL : Sea Level SLAM : Standoff Land Attack Missile SOP : Standard Operating Procedure SPC : Statistical process control SPI : Single Process Initiative SRAM : Short-Range Attack Missile SST : Supersonic Transport STOL : Short Take-Off and Landing STOVL: Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing T&E : Test and evaluation TAB : TAB-delimited aircraft data table from RDS TABI : Tailorable Advanced Blanket Insulation (TPS) TABBY: Cat with certain markings TABY : Nice town in Sweden TAS : True Airspeed TLA : Three Letter Acronym (not kidding, there is a 3 letter acronym for "3 letter acronym") TPM : Technical Performance Measure TRL : Technology Readiness Level TFR : Terrain-Following Radar TOGW : Takeoff Gross Weight TPS : Thermal Protection System (for reentry) TQM : Total quality management TVC : Thrust Vector Control T/W : Thrust-to-Weight Ratio
UAV : Unmanned or Uninhabited Aerial (or Air) Vehicle UCAV : Unmanned or Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicle UH : Utility Helicopter V1 : Takeoff decision speed V2 : Takeoff safety speed VFR : Visual Flight Rules VG : Variable Geometry VIFF : Vectoring in Forward Flight VNE : Never-exceed speed V/STOL: Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing VTO : Vertical Take-Off VTOL : Vertical Take-Off and Landing We : Empty Weight Wo : Takeoff Gross Weight WBS : Work Breakdown Structure WIG : Wing In Ground-Effect WMD : Weapon of Mass Destruction W/S : Wing Loading ZFW : Zero Fuel Weight
Common Aerospace Applications of Greek Letters α (alpha) : Angle of Attack β (beta) : Sideslip Angle β (beta) : Prandtl-Glauert compressibility correction δ (delta) : Change in some parameter δ (delta) : Deflection of Controls Δ (DELTA) : Wing Sweep (see also Λ) ε (epsilon): Unit Strain γ (gamma) : Flight Path Angle Γ (GAMMA) : Wing Dihedral Angle η (eta) : Efficiency λ (lambda) : Wing Taper Ratio Λ (Lambda) : Wing Sweep (see also Δ) μ (mu) : Viscosity μ (mu) : micro (one millionth = 1/10^6 ) π (pi) : 3.141592653589793... Π (PI) : Product Operator ρ (rho) : Air Density ρ (rho) : Conic Shape Parameter ρ (rho) : Radius of Gyration ς (sigma) : Unit Stress ς (sigma) : Air Density Ratio Σ (SIGMA) : Summation Operator τ (tau) : Unit Shear StressIf it isn't here, try here or here.