Airport, port, rail, and military terminology.

If you’re involved in aeronautics or have even simply visited a large airport, you’re likely to have heard particular terminology that might be difficult to understand at times. Knowing what these terms mean can give you greater confidence when you travel or when you’re working with transport systems. In this publication, we present a guide to airport, port, rail, and military terminology.


Airport terminology


There are a lot of technical terms in use in airports that can be unclear for some people. Below is a list of common terminology you might see or hear in connection with airports.


  • Air traffic management – this refers to all of the systems in place to manage air traffic to and from an airport, including planes taking off and landing. It includes systems like air traffic control and airspace management and is vital for ensuring aviation safety.


  • Remote control tower – this is a concept where air traffic control is performed remotely rather than at an airport’s local control tower.


  • Electronic flight strip – this is an efficient way of providing air traffic controllers with all of the vital information they need about a particular aircraft. This includes where the aircraft is travelling to.


Port terminology


Ports are similar to airports but concern boats and ships as opposed to aircraft. Again, specific terminology is used in these environments that can sometimes be unclear if you’re not familiar with a port’s setting and operations.


  • Backhaul – this refers to moving cargo back over part of a route that it has already travelled. This is usually the opposite direction to the cargo’s final destination.


  • Controlled atmosphere – this refers to a sophisticated computer-controlled system that manages the gases within a container during a shipment. It’s vitally important to prevent the decay of the items inside the container.


  • Plimsoll mark – also known as load lines, these are specific markings on the hull of a vessel that marks the level that must remain above water to ensure that the ship is stable.


Rail terminology


Railways and rail networks also use a variety of technical terminology. Below are some common terms used within the rail industry.


  • Overhead line equipment – this term is often abbreviated to OLE. It refers to the wires and support structures that deliver a traction supply current to traction units.


  • AC systems – a line with overhead line equipment that supplies an alternating current to electric trains.


  • Failed to calls – this term refers to incidents when a train has failed to make a scheduled stop at a train station. Failed to calls can happen for a variety of different reasons.


Military terminology


A lot of specific terminologies are used within a military context. Sometimes using technical terminology in this context is important for security purposes.


  • Airship – a type of aircraft that is lighter than air and navigates through the air under its own power. Since the 1960s most airships use helium to lift themselves but some use hot air.


  • Electronic intelligence – also known as signals intelligence, this is an approach that uses electronic sensors to gather intelligence, focusing on non-communications signals.