Dictionnaire & vocabulaire aéronautique


I am Eliot, the French private pilot who likes to fly abroad.
To help fellow pilots practice their English and pass the FCL055 exam, I write a monthly article entitled « In English, please » for Info-pilote, the French Aeronautical Federation magazine.

This page also is dedicated to aeronautical English practice. The goal is to help pilots work on their listening comprehension skills, expand their vocabulary, review the phraseology, and also – why not? – improve their knowledge of grammar. The practice papers will consist of short exercises, in the form of audio clips, quizzes, word games, and short texts and will be posted regularly.

The answers, and explanations if needed, will be available by clicking on … the « Answers » button.



Practice 16/11/2018

1 – vocabulary

Review the vocabulary on medical emergencies with this extract  from L’Anglais pour voler.


2 – crossword

For a little more fun, find the typo in one of the clues!


3 – listening comprehension

First listen to two recordings from www.liveatc.net:


Then find the missing words in the transcript.


4 – reading comprehension

Read this « In English, please » article published in the October 2010 issue of Info-pilote, entitled « In-flight medical emergencies », then answer these questions:

– What is a rpk?

– Why is there a 24-hour waiting period between scuba diving and flying?

– How can you reduce the risk of blood clot occurence?


5 – general English corner

Get ready for the Holiday season, and prepare for an all aviation-themed party with « Ho, Ho, Ho! « , an article published in Info-pilote some years ago. Apart from the site offering personalized caricature drawings, it has not aged a bit. You might just add « drones » to the list of possible gifts!

No questions here, just try to memorize the vocabulary.




Practice 19/10/2018

1 – vocabulary

Review the vocabulary on maintenance with this extract  from the « aircraft » chapter of L’Anglais pour voler.


2 – vocabulary review crossword

aircraft maintenance


3 – reading comprehension

Read this January 2017 « In English, please » article on aircraft maintenance  and answer these questions:

1 – how long does it take on average to complete the 50-hour check?

2 – what can increase the delay in completing the maintenance tasks?

3 – why are the majority of aircraft owners happy not to assist during the scheduled maintenance?

4 – what can temporarily suspend work on an aircraft undergoing an Annual?


4 – listening comprehension

Listen to this former Tip of the Week  from the Pilot Workshop, preferably without looking at the transcript, and answer these questions:

1 – when inspecting a propeller, which nicks and dents are okay, and which are not?

2 – why?

3 – What can a growing crack result in?


5 – general English corner

Go to this Connexion article  and answer these questions:

1 – what is fly tipping?

2 – what new tools are being used to catch offenders?



Practice 14/09/2018

1 – vocabulary

With the help of a 2008 « In English, please » article, review the control and instrument panel vocabulary, along with its pronunciation.


2 – listening comprehension

Make a full transcript of this Hong Kong airport’s ATIS recorded  last year during the typhoon season.


3 – reading comprehension

Take this quiz on airport markings from www.boldmethod.com .

Will you ace it?


4 – general English corner

Play a slideshow at  www.dictionary.com to learn a few facts about texting acronyms. Then answer these questions:

– Which one is in French?

– What answer might you get if you become verbose?

– What does this one mean?


 5 – wordsearch

we’ll end this session with a wordsearch  yielding an inspiring hidden message.



Practice 03/08/2018

Eliot is on vacation!



Sign up for his newsletter at


to be the first to know when he is back.


Enjoy your summer and see you soon.

Practice 06/07/2018

1 – reading comprehension

Go to www.boldmethod.com to get 8 tips for circumnavigating thunderstorms. Then answer these questions:

– What can you expect to find below a thunderstorm?

– How far away from a thunderstorm is it recommended to stay?

– How do you fly around a thunderstorm ahead of you?


2 – listening comprehension

Watch this fun Top Gear BBC video on what happens when a car is struck by lightning, then answer these questions:

– Where is the Siemens High Voltage Lab located?

– How much voltage can the tranformers generate?

– How many volts will hit the car?

– What is a Faraday cage?


BTW, read myth #5 on this interesting post . Would you be safe in your car or would you be fried to a crisp?


3 – vocabulary review wordsearch



4 – further reading

For further reading go to  www.metoffice.gov.uk , the UK equivalent of Meteo France, to learn more about thunderstorms, thunder and lightning.


5 – grammar

Let’s finish this session with a short exercise on prepositions here.



Practice 01/06/2018

1 – listening comprehension

Brush up your knowledge on turbulence and work on your listening comprehension skills with this previous « In English, please » article:   Riding the tiger



2 – reading comprehension 

Go to www.skybrary.aero

In the category « wake vortex turbulence », find – and read – the article on … wake vortex turbulence.

a – when does an aircraft generate wake turbulence?

b – how long do wake vortices persist?


Scroll down the page to the UK CAA Safety Sense Leaflet 15c:

c – when is the vortex strongest?

d – what is the diameter of a B747’s wingtip vortex?


3 – vocabulary

If you have read the « In English, please » article in Infopilote’s June issue – entitled « Words are the basic building blocks of language » – then you are now convinced of the importance of learning new vocabulary.

Nothing forbids a bit of fun while doing it, and here is a way:  create your own high-frequency vocabulary lists.

Go to www.tocloud.com. Paste a URL in the field « Page », or a text in the field « Text ». In the « Display » menu, select « By Frequency » and tick the « Display Frequencies » box. Finally, click on « Create tag cloud ». The result is a list of the words that appear in the text, ranked in order of frequency.

Let’s try it! Go back to www.skybrary.aero . In the category « weather », open the article on « turbulence » (https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Turbulence) . Copy the article URL address, and follow the instructions described in the previous paragraph.

Cool, isn’it?

You can also add a second page to the search. Keep the same URL in the first « Page » field, then add the URL of the « Clear Air Turbulence » article (https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Clear_Air_Turbulence) in the « Page 2 » field. Below are the 19 more relevant words extracted from the first 8 lines of the word cloud:


turbulence, severe, occur, light, extreme, moderate, altitude, structural damage, attitude, injured, terrain, wind shear, vicinity, category, mountain waves, accidents, vortex, clear air turbulence, strong.


 4 – wordsearch

Find these 19 words  in the grid here.


5 – general English corner

Emojis are the little smileys that originated in Japan around 2000 and have conquered our smartphones since. In their ever-shifting world, some of them see their meaning change quickly. Check the latest evolution at www.dictionary.com and look for the goat emoji. What does it stand for?


Practice 06/04/2018

1 – vocabulary

Go back to Practice Paper #5 to review some vocabulary on piston engines and watch the funny video explaining how they work.

Learn more vocabulary on the subject with this extract  from L’Anglais pour voler.


2 – quiz

Then practice at www.boldmethod.com with this « do you know these 6 aircraft engines parts »  quiz.


3 – listening comprehension

Listen to the audio from www.pilotworkshop.com on what to do in case of an alternator failure at night: continue to your home Airport if it’s not too far away or  land at a closer Airport?

Then answer these questions:

– What is the consequence, at night,  of turning off non-essential electrical loads?

–  What is  a « stealth arrival »?

–  What is Wally Moran’s final advice?


The transcript is available  here .


4 – reading comprehension

In the audio above, Wally Moran says: « proceeding to our destination is a strong pull since we pilots always like to complete the mission ». This state of mind has a name: get-there-itis. Read this December 2012 « In English, please » article  to learn more about it, then answer a few questions.

–  What is the technical term for get-there-itis?

–  What are the three cases analysed in the article?

–  What is the ultimate barrier?


5 – general English corner

So, here we are, back to the old days in junior school, ready for a phonetics lesson. But don’t fret, it has been upgraded for the 21st century.

First go to  www.onestopenglish.com   to work on an interactive phonetic chart.

The phonetics addict could even download Adrian Hunderhill’s Sounds: The Pronunciation App   to be able to practice from anywhere, anytime.


Then practice with these exercises:

– 1 – listen and circle the word you hear in each sentence.


1.I can’t fill/feel that.

2.Where are the bins/beans?

3.Can you hit/heat this for me?

4.She always seems to be slipping/sleeping.

5.You can pick/peek now.

6.Where do you want me to sit/seat?

7.I’m not sure if I could live/leave here.

8.Is the pitch/peach ok?


– 2 – listen to the recording below, as many times as necessary, until you hear the difference between cheeky/chick, green/grin, feet/fit


Jilly’s a cheeky chick,

I love her green eyes and her grin.

Jim’s feet still fit his shoes.





Practice 23/03/2018

1 – vocabulary

Review the vocabulary that can be found in weather-related messages with this extract  from L’Anglais pour voler « phraseology » chapter.


2 – reading comprehension

Go to the Wikipedia article on ATIS, then answer these questions:

– What does ATIS stand for?

– What is the main benefit of the ATIS system?

– What is a D-ATIS


3 – listening comprehension

Learn more about VOLMETs  and train your ear with this July 2016 Info-pilote « In English, please » article.


Listen to the audio below and find the missing words.


4 – quiz

Let’s finish on a lighter note with 16 multiple-choice questions  on the vast subject of meterology


5 – general English corner

Easter is looming large on the horizon and is one of the most important Christian holy days. But do you know:

– How is the date of Easter chosen every year?

– What is Lent?

– What is Shrove Tuesday?

– How long does the whole Easter festival last?

Check your answers in the « answers » section below or at www.whyeaster.com , where you can also learn (a lot) more about it.



Practice 08/03/2018

1 – vocabulary

The « Incidents » chapter in L’Anglais pour voler has 13 sections. Review the vocabulary on engine and systems emergencies with this extract  from the book.


2 – crossword

Thirty words that spell trouble


3 – reading comprehension

Read this « In English, please » article- published in Info-pilote in October 2010 – on in-flight medical emergencies, then answer the questions below:

1 – How many in-flight medical emergencies are likely to happen?

2 – What is an rpk?

3 – What are the contributing factors to the occurrence of unexpected medical problems?

4 – What problems can arise because of low pressure in the cabin?

5 – What is a pinch hitter course?


4 – listening comprehension

The support for the listening comprehension practice will be found this time at www.pilotworkshop.com. Scroll down the page to « Picking the best place to make the emergency landing » and listen to the video. No subtitles are available this time, so prick up your ears to catch the answers to these questions:

1 – What are roads?

2 – What do crop duster pilots know about powerlines?

3 – How should you land on a plowed (GB: ploughed) field?

4 – What do crops do?

5 – Where do you land between the trees?

6 – What are the two final pieces of advice that apply to all landings?


5 – grammar

Go to www.dictionary.com to check the difference between whose and who’s. Watch the short video, then make sure you read the attached text to the end to also learn about its and it’s. Practice here.



Practice 16/02/2018

1 – vocabulary

Review the vocabulary on flight information  with this extract from L’Anglais pour voler « Phraseology » chapter.


2 – reading comprehension

The latest tip from the pilot’s workshop is about finding traffic. Go to www.pilotworkshop.com/tips/finding-traffic and listen to the recording, at first without looking at the script. For practice, you can try to note down as many numbers as you can. Then listen again, this time with the text as reference and answer these questions:

– at 1000 feet, how many degrees below level is the horizon?

– how many degrees is a finger width?

– where do you look to spot approaching traffic that matters for your flight?


3 – listening comprehension

Read this former « In English, please » article: Traffic information – to help you see and avoid

Then listen to the recording below and find the missing words.


4 – general English corner

 As everybody knows, homophones, are words that sound the same but have different meanings. This exercise  will help you review vocabulary and pronunciation at the same time.


5 – riddle

Some words can be read forward and backwards. They are palindromes if it’s the exact same word both ways (noon, civic, racecar …), and semi-palindromes or semordnilap (“palindromes” spelled backwards) if the two words are different. Find a semi-palindrome that can fit the following definition:

If you are the first, enjoy the second, it might help if you have a sweet tooth!



Practice 02/02/2018

1 – vocabulary

Review the vocabulary on radio operations with this section from L’Anglais pour volerRadio – ATS .

If you want the two pages from the section to be displayed side-by-side like in the book, download the document, then select « View > Page Display > Two Page View » in your PDF reader.


2 – crossword

Radio operations


3 – reading comprehension

Read this February 2013 Info-pilote article: icing, a winter delicacy , and answer the following questions:

– What are the two types of structural icing?

– What does rime ice look like?

– What is the other name for clear ice?

– What are the four categories of icing intensity?

– What does FIKI means?


4 – listening comprehension

Using the second part of the same article as support, listen to the recording below and find the missing words.


5 – The General English corner

Check what a contranym is here.

Now, let’s transform the General English corner into a French corner. Do you know the French translation for contranym? Try to find some examples.


Practice 19/01/2018


Let’s start with a riddle, to get back in the game after this rather long interruption:

you grow them when you learn to fly,

then spread them further and further with time.

What are they?

Wings, of course.


And wings are what this practice paper will be all about.




1 – vocabulary

Review the vocabulary on the subject with this  section from L’Anglais pour voler: wings and tail unit .

If you want the two pages from the section to be displayed side-by-side like in the book, select « View > Page Display > Two Page View » in your PDF reader.


2 – Then test your knowledge with this crossword .


3 – reading comprehension

Read the article « This is how winglets work » on www.boldmethod.com, then answer these questions:

– what do winglets do?

– how do they do it?

– when are wingtip vortices the strongest?

– why are the winglets even more efficient now?


4 – listening comprehension

Watch this video on Concorde‘s first landing in New York, and find the discrepency between the comment and the subtitles.



5 – grammar

« Then » or « than »? That is the question.

Learn more about it and practice here.


Practice 24/11/2017

1 – reading comprehension

Read this article from The Connexion, about an aircraft which almost took off from a taxiway.

– Where did it happen?

– What type of aircraft was it?

– What was its destination?

– How could the pilot mistake the taxiway for a runway?


2 – listening comprehension

Read this « In English, please » article published in the May 2014 issue of Info-pilote, entitled « Taxiing around an airport, an orienteering exercise ».

The second half of the article is a listening comprehension exercise. Listen to the recording below and find the missing words in the text.


3 – vocabulary

Visual landing charts


4 – general English corner

Listen to this shortened version of a 6-minute recording on « How quickly can you learn English? »

Then answer these questions:

– What is the real thing?

– In the 21st century, what seems to be the main method of learning?

– How much time do Rob and Finn advocate you commit to their course every day?

– What are the two tips given by Richard Hallows?


The full recording and the script, if needed, are available here.

www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/ is quite helpful to English learners and while at it, why not take the opportunity to browse through the site and check out their various courses on vocabulary and grammar.


5 – wordgames

Try different word games at www.dictionary.com/fun.  You might find them challenging at first, but if you choose the « regular » level, the computer will help you avoid making mistakes and also give hints if you ask for them.



Practice 10/11/2017

1 – vocabulary

Review the classification of aircraft with the help of an old book, published in 1963. In this diagram place the following words in the right boxes:

single engine A/C; multi engine aircraft; biplanes; monoplanes; rotary wings; seaplanes; gliders; turbojet A/C; lighter than air A/C; power driven A/C; non power driven A/C.


Learn more vocabulary on the subject with these  two sections from L’Anglais pour voler: aircraft types (1) and aircraft types (2)

If you want the two pages from each section to be displayed side-by-side like in the book, select « View > Page Display > Two Page View » in your PDF reader.


2 – crossword

Things that fly …


3 – reading comprehension

Read a wikipedia article to find more information on this type of aircraft. You’ll find the answer to the following questions in the introduction and  the first paragraph, entitled « principle of operation »:

– What is it called, who invented it, and when?

– What are its characteristics?

– In which configurations can the propeller be placed?


4 – listening comprehension

All numbers and letters have been erased from this script . Listen to the original recordings below and fill in the gaps. One dash corresponds to a number or a letter.


5 – general English corner

Practice Paper #7 ends on a light note with a riddle from www.dictionary.com at: www.dictionary.com/e/s/haveincommon_6_15/#baobab



Practice 27/10/2017

1 – Vocabulary

Let’s start with a review of some helpful vocabulary used to describe your environment as seen from above : in-flight landmarks. You can click on each word to hear its pronunciation.


2 – Crossword

In-flight landmarks


3 – listening comprehension

Listen to this recording from www.pilotworkshop.com explaining the meaning of the code UP. Listen the first time without the help of the text, then answer these questions:

– What does UP stand for?

– Where is it found?

– What would be needed to make a proper determination?


4 – Grammar

The ‘s in English serves 2 main purposes: to show possession or to make contractions. It is alo used to form plurals such as in « the 90’s », but this aspect won’t be discussed today.

In this exercise, you’ll have to decide if the ‘s stands for the verbs « have » or « be » in the third person singular (it’s Monday, she’s got the flu), the personal pronoun « us » (let’s go to the movies), or if it’s the mark of possession (Eliot’s newsletter).

If you are longing for more, read this article from www.chompchomp.com on the different uses of the apostrophe  (not only the ‘s) in English.


5 – Reading comprehension

Typoglycemia is the name given to our ability to understand a sentence even if the words have been scrambled such as in: « yuo’re Albe to Raed Tihs ».

Discover why, and what the limits are at: www.dictionary.com/e/typoglycemia/

Then answer these questions:

– What has the email got right?

– In the following examples, why is the first version of the scrambled words easier to read than the second: « porbelm » vs. « pelborm », « toattl » vs. « talot », « aoccdrnig” vs  “aocdircng »?



Practice 06/10/2017

1 – Vocabulary

Following the Air France A380’s spectacular incident early this week, there has been a lot of talk about aircraft engines, and  this seems as good a time as any to check your knowledge on the subject.

Start with a review of vocabulary on piston engines.

And see how they work with this You Tube video (caution, British humour!)


2 – Reading comprehension

Then read this article on jet engines and answer a few questions:

– What is the other name for jet engines?

– What is the core of a gas turbine engine?

– In a turbofan, what is the bypass air used for?

– Why do turboprop engines need a reduction gearbox?

And see how they work with another You Tube video.


3 – Word search


4 – Listening comprehension

The listening comprehension exercise is going to take you where pilots are not too keen on going: engine failure.

Watch this AOPA’s Air Safety Institute video: Engine Out! From Trouble to Touchdown, at first preferably without turning on the subtitles, then listen again to check your comprehension and find the missing words in the transcript of the first half of the video here .


5 – General English corner

If you sign up at www.dictionary.com for their « Word of the Day », you’ll receive a new word each day with its definition, audio pronunciation, origin and more! Most of the time, the words are not the kind you’ll be able to use on a regular basis, but the emails are a daily reminder of the importance of regular practice and they can also be fun to read.

One of last week’s words was « pangram ».

Let’s finish Practice Paper #5 with a game: try to find a pangram on an aviation theme and send your result(s) to d_defossez@orange.fr . They will all be published in a newsletter to come!


Have fun and I hope I’ll be hearing from you soon!



Practice 22/09/2017

1 – Vocabulary

From Typhoon Hato, in Hong Kong and South China at the end of August, to hurricanes Harley, Irma, Jose, and Maria in the Carribean Sea in September, there has been a lot of talk these past few weeks about severe – even extreme – weather.

But do you know the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon? Do you know the definition of a tornado, a waterspout, or a gustnado?

Let’s find out here: severe weather


2 – Wordsearch

Find the following words:

blizzard, cyclone, funnel cloud, gustnado, haboob, hail, hurricane, lightning, microburst, monsoon, sandstorm, squall line, thunderstorm, tornado, typhoon, waterspout, windshear,

in this grid: severe weather wordsearch.

Pick out the words from left to right, top line to bottom line. Words can go horizontally, vertically and diagonally in all eight directions.

When you are done, the unused letters in the grid will spell out a hidden message.


Read more about these phenomena on Eurocontrol’s Skybrary Weather Portal.


3 – Listening comprehension

Watch the You Tube video  « Anatomy of a Hurricane », preferably without turning on the subtitles, and answer these questions:

– When do hurricanes that impact the US develop?

– In the Northern Hemisphere, how do cloud masses rotate? Why?

– What immediately surrounds the eye of a hurricane?

– When does a hurricane die?

– Name some of the by-products of a hurricane


4 – Grammar: How

Let’s delve into the mystery of asking questions with “How”, a very useful three-letter word!

– Use How to introduce questions: How was your flight? How do you do that?

– Use How to get information about numbers and quantities, for example to find out about age, size, length, … : how old, how long, how big, how often?

– Use How much to ask about cost. Also use How much with uncountable nouns.

– Use How many to ask about countable nouns.

– Use How in exclamations before adjectives, adverbs and verb phrases: How nice! How odd! How funny!

– Use How about + noun phrase and How about + -ing form in informal speech to make suggestions: how about going to the movies?

Let’s check your understanding with this short exercise.


5 – Further reading

A hundred years ago this month, on September 11th 1917, the WWI flying ace Georges Guynemer disappeared during a mission over Belgium. His death was officially announced on September 25th.



Read more about Georges Guynemer at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Guynemer and answer these questions:

– How old was he when he died?

– How many victories did he achieve over enemy planes?

– How was his aircraft called?

– Where is it kept now?

– What mottos is he famous for?



Practice 08/09/2017


1 – Vocabulary

Check your knowledge of airport-related vocabulary, along with each word’s pronunciation.


2 – Airport crossword


3 – Listening comprehension

Listen to the recording and find the missing words in the text here:  Airport shutdowns. One dash is a word.


4 – Grammar: There, their, and they’re

Those three words sound exectly the same but are used completely differently. Here are some tips and tricks, from  http://deceptivelyeducational.blogspot.fr/

There: within this word is another word: here. There usually represents a place. Very often, if you can substitute here in place of there, you’ve used it correctly.

Their: this is a possessive pronoun. If you can replace their with our and the sentence still makes sense, you’ve used it correctly.

They’re: among these three words (there, their, and they’re), this is the only one that is a contraction. It’s an abbreviation for they are. If you can put they are in place of they’re, you used the right word.

Let’s put your knowledge to the test:  There, their and they’re .


5 – Further reading

To finish on a light note, read  two humorous posts and answer a few questions:

Questions post #1

1 – What are the usual answers to the border guard question?

2 – What is an open-ended question?

3 – What is the opposite of an open-ended question?

4 – What is the meaning of “deadpan”?

Questions post #2

5 – Why is the traveler who is posting the story delayed?

6 – How long is the flight from Edmonton delayed?

7 – What does “get tasered” mean?



Practice 18/08/2017


1 – Word game

Find the anagram for the following five words : seat, thorn, sore, stew, shout. Then find the odd one out.


2 – Vocabulary

Practice your weather-related vocabulary  with this crossword on  Clouds, winds and more  :

Find 31 weather-related words, then transfer the letters to the crypted line at the bottom according to matching numbers to discover a very well-known English idiom.


3 – Listening comprehension

Today, the listening comprehension exercise will take you to Ogden, near Salt Lake City (Utah) to listen to the ATIS:

Then answer these questions:

– What is frequency 125.55 for?

– What is frequency 118.7 for?

– Why is runway 7/25 closed?

– How are the PAPIs on runway 21 functioning?


4 – Grammar

Let’s start a review of the different prepositions, starting with « at » and « to », here.


5 – Further reading

At, http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/binaries/content/assets/mohippo/pdf/9/k/getmet_2015_final.pdf you’ll access a leaflet published by the British equivalent of Meteo France, where you can find, in English, everything you need to know about the weather.

The telephone numbers of the UK’s main airports ATIS are also available towards the end of the leaflet. Very useful for practice!

What is the phone number for Southampton ATIS?



Practice 03/08/2017



1 – Start with this word game to warm up your brain and switch it into English mode.


2 – It will be followed by a review of aircraft-related vocabulary as well as its pronunciation.


What are these?


3 – Next  train your ear with this listening comprehension exercise:


4 – Then, keep up the good work with some easy grammar.


5 – Last, but not least, this reading comprehension exercise, in the form of an article from The Connexion, will take you to Roissy and Orly. Read the article here: www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/Border-delays-at-Paris-airports-critical and answer these few questions:

  • How long can passengers have to wait at border checkpoints?
  • What has exacerbated the problem?
  • According to the head of the border police, what is just not possible?