Aviation Data Codes & Abbreviations

Aviation Data Codes & Abbreviations

SEE ALSO myAviationHUB’s’ Dictionary

Aircraft Manufacturers Codes can be found here

Aircraft Listings

First shown is an aircraft’s model name/number, then the year of its appearance or first manufacture. ATC or Group-2 certifications, if any, follow in parentheses, after which its specifications begin. Descriptions will be clear once logical initials are recognized. An aircraft might be shown, as an example: 2pOlwMFb, which translates into accommodations and physical description (in this example a two-place open low-wing monoplane flying boat):
p = place or passenger (the number for multi-place aircraft may or may not include crew); O = open cockpit; C = cabin or canopied cockpit; O/C = open or closed cockpit; O-C = optional or convertible open/closed cockpit; lw = low-wing; mw = mid-wing; hw = high-wing; sw = sesqui-wing; B = biplane; M = monoplane; T = triplane; Ag = autogyro; Am = amphibian; F = pontoon floatplane; Fb = flying boat; H = helicopter.
Next are incidental codes: rg = retracting gear; hp = horsepower; load: = useful load (gross minus empty weight); v: = speed (max/cruise/landing or stall—mph unless otherwise noted, single entry is max unless otherwise noted; kts = knots, nm = nautical miles); ff: = first flight; wt: = weight (pounds); underline = principal designer(s); p: = pilot; $ = unit cost, usually at first release; POP: = population, the number built of a specific entry; [0000] = registration(s), sometimes limited to a representative or notable few in large civil productions; ? = unknown data; x = missing or questionable data; (>) = conflicting data from an authoritative source.

All information is based on found data, nothing has been “guesstimated.” Performance figures can differ greatly in horsepower and speed between sea-level and altitude; useful loads might represent either design gross or maximum service loads; ranges can differ with empty or loaded readings and vary greatly with special equipment. Prices ($) are generally those advertised by the manufacturer.

We bow to the American Library System as the most logical. Using Curtiss as an example: numerals come first (Curtiss 1), initial letters alone are next (Curtiss A), followed by initial letters with a dash (Curtiss A-1), then the alphabet takes over (Curtiss Autoplane), accepting numbers, hyphens, and spaces as part of the first letter (B-2, Carrier Pigeon, CT, F6C, and so on). Indented sub-models follow this pattern, eg: JN-4HB under JN-4H under JN-4.

Military are shown in their original designations; e.g.: F-80 appears under the P-80 entry. In subclassifications, generally these are chronological or logic-sequential and not always in alphabetical order; e.g.: XF-84D, as a prototype, precedes F-84D, while RF-84D, as a variant, follows.

In the case of similarly-named entries, these are arranged by the earliest date.


All registrations, military and civil, are shown in [brackets].

It is common for pre-war “Identified” (non-CAA approved) civil aircraft to be seen in print with the prefix “N.” However, in AeroFiles, to visually differentiate between those and the post-war approved “N” licenses, early Identified aircraft are shown with numbers only, except for racers (R, NR) or experimentals (X, NX). This way [N12345] is recognizable as an aircraft of 1948 or later registry, and [NC12345] or [C12345] as earlier registered and [12345] as unregistered aircraft.

An equals sign (=) shows a re-registration [NC12345=N567H], or a change from civil to military [NX12345=40-012], or US registry to foreign [NC12345=GABCD]. Within brackets, an equals sign should be interpreted as “became”. A virgule (/) is used as a tie to indicate a change of license prefix for a specific plane, as from Experimental to Standard category [X/NC12345].

The virgule also indicates a span of numbers in registrations and military numbers and, within brackets, should be interpreted as “to and including”. Thus does [A1234/2345] signify a USN batch from A-1234 to A-2345 and [41-001/023] an AAF batch from 41-001 to 41-023. In this group the equals sign indicates a transfer of registration for one specific plane, as in [123=V456], where a Navy plane “became” a USCG plane, or [35-123=A4567], where an Army plane was transferred to the Navy. It will get cloudy here for those unfamiliar with military registrations, particularly those of USN, for it requires knowledgeable assumption to separate a pre-WW2 civil unregistered [34567] from the USN’s [34567], a Vultee SNV-1. As with any arcana, study and experience are the only keys.

For Army airplanes, an “Air Service” serial as [AS1234] is used to visually identify those Army and Signal Corps numbers of 1909-1921—specifically Wright Flyer #1 to Dayton-Wright TA-5 #68583—before they switched to the Fiscal Year numbers, which are then shown in hyphenated form [41-2345]. Navy aircraft used a prefix “A” in their BuAero numbers from [A51] to [A9204], then dropped it and went from [9205] to [9999]. Then, rather than clutter up the sides of their planes with more numbers, they started over at [0001]. The Coast Guard used their own system, from a Loening OL-5 [1] to Lockheed R3O-1 [383]. At that point they brought in a “V” and took some giant steps back to renumber everything after [55] starting with [V101]. Confusing? Damn right it is.

General Abbreviations


3LMB = Three Light Marker Beacon

A & P = Airframe and Powerplant

AAA = Antique Airplane Association

AAHS = American Aviation Historical Society

AC, A/C = Air Conditioning

ADF = Automatic Direction Finder

ADs = Airworthiness Directives (Maintenance or Modification ordered by FAA)

AETC = USAF Air Education & Training Cmd, Randolph Field TX

AF = Air Force

AFB = Air Force base (generic use)

AFIS = Airborne Flight Information System

AI = Attitude Indicator

aka = also known as

Annual = Mandatory inspection of airframe and power plant that occurs every 12 months

AP = Autopilot

AP/FD = Autopilot/Flight Director

ARM = Anti-Radiation Missile

AS = [in brackets] Air Service, generically denoting Army and Signal Corps serial numbers
prior to 1922

ASM = Air-To-Surface Missile

Assn = Association

ASW = Anti-Submarine Warfare

ATC = Approved Type Certificate

Aux Fuel = Auxiliary Fuel Tanks

Boots = Inflatable device on leading edge of wing and tail used to remove ice

  1. = circa, approximately

c/g = center of gravity

c/n = contractor’s number (manufacturer-assigned number, now universally used in place of
“factory serial number,” while s/n is specifically a “military serial number”)

C/R = Counter-rotating propellers

CAA = Civil Aeronautics Authority/Administration

CAMP = Computerized Aircraft Maintenance Program

CAP = Civil Air Patrol

CHT = Cylinder Head Temperature

ci = cubic inches (engine displacement)

Co = Company (County in AIRFIELDS listings)

COIN = Counter-Insurgency

COM = Communication Radio

Conventional Gear = Two main wheels with one tail wheel

Corp = Corporation

CPTP = Civilian Pilot Training Program

CTOL = Conventional Take-off and Landing

Cycles = Turbine engine cycle begins with engine start up, continues through full-power and ends with shutdown

De-ice = Complete de-ice equipment installed on wings, tail, prop, and windshield

DF = Direction Finder

DG = Direction Gyro

DME = Distance Measuring Equipment

DoC = Department of Commerce (includes the subsidiary Bureau and is used generically in
references to published government and commercial registers)

EAA = Experimental Aircraft Association

EFIS = Electronic Flight Instrument System

EGT = Exhaust Gas Temperature Indicator

ENC = Encoder

engr = engineer (-ing)

est = estimated

FAA = Federal Aviation Administration/Agency/Authority

FD = Flight Director

fdr: = founder

FLIR = Forward-Looking Infra-red Radar

ft2 = square feet

Full De-Ice = Complete de-ice/anti-ice equipment installed on wings, tail, props, and windshield

Full Panel = All gyros necessary for instrument flight

FWF = Firewall Forward (referencing overhaul)

GNS = Global Navigation System

Gold Crown = A set avionics package by King Radio Corp

GPS = Global Positioning System

GS = Glide Slope

HF = High Frequency Radio Equipment

Hisso = Hispano-Suiza (engines)

Hot Prop = De-ice equipped propeller

HP = Horsepower

HSI = Horizontal Situation Indicator

ID = identification

IFR = Instrument Flight Rules

ILS = Instrument Landing System

IMA = Identification Mark Assignment (CAA/DoC)

Inc = Incorporated

IRAN = Inspection Repair As Necessary

JATO = Jet-Assisted Take-Off

JPATS = Joint Primary Training Aircraft System

JSF = Joint Strike Fighter

K-Ice = FAA certified for flight into icing conditions

Known Ice, Known Icing = FAA certified for flight into icing conditions

LE = Left Engine

LOC = Localizer Receiver and Indicator

Loran = Long Range Navigation

LR Fuel = Long Range Fuel

LRT = Long Range Fuel Tanks

MAD = Motion Anomaly Detector

MATS = Military Air Transport Service

Microline = A set avionics package by Collins Radio Corp

Mid-Time = The middle third of recommended engine TBO

MLS = Microwave Landing System

MOF = Museum of Flight (Boeing Seattle)

MSP = Maintenance Service Program

NACA = National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics

NAR = National Air Races

NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASM = National Air & Space Museum, Washington DC

NAV = Navigation Radio

Nav/Com = Navigation & Communication Radios

NDH = No Damage History

NG = National Guard, generaally prefaced with state initials

NOTAR = No Tail Rotor; SEE Piasecki PV-1 for definition

OXY = Oxygen system for passengers and crew

P&I = Paint and Interior

P&W = Pratt & Whitney (engines)

P.O.R. = Price On Request

p: = pilot, pilot in command

PAVE = SEE Sidebar

PBH = Power by the hour maintenance program

PMA = Parts Manufacturer Approval

pres: = company president

Proline = A set avionics package by Collins Radio Corp

RAAF = Royal Australian Air Force

RAF = Royal Air Force (and precursor Royal Flying Corps)

RCAF = Royal Canadian Air Force

RDF = Radio Direction Finder

RDR / Radar = On-board weather radar

RE = Right Engine

reg = registration (CAA/FAA) number

RG = Retractable Landing Gear

RMI = Radio Magnetic Indicator

RNAS = Royal Navy Air Service

RNAV = Area Navigation Device

RNZAF = Royal New Zealand Air Force

S/N = Serial Number (military-assigned unit number)

SAM = Surface-to-Air Missile

SAR = Search and Rescue

SBs = Service Bulletin (Maintenance or modification ordered by the Manufacturer)

SCMOH = Since Chrome Major Overhaul

SCORE = Since Core Inspection (Turbine engine reference)

SFRM = Since Factory Remanufactured (reference to engines)

SFRMN = Since Factory Remanufactured (reference to engines)

SHOT = Since Hot Section Inspection (Turbine engine reference)

SHP = Shaft Horsepower (Turbine engine reference)

SHSI = Since Hot Section Inspection (Turbine engine reference)

Silver Crown = A set avionics package by King Radio Corp

SLAR = Side-Looking Aerial Radar-photo

Slaved Compass = North-seeking gyro-stabilized compass system

SMOH = Since Major Overhaul (engine time reference)

SMPI = Since Major Periodic Inspection (Turbine engine reference)

SOH = Since Overhaul

SPOH = Since Prop Overhaul (prop time reference)

STC = Supplemental Type Certificate

STOL = Short Takeoff and Landing Ability

STOP = Since Top Overhaul (reference to engines)

TBO = Time Between Overhaul

TCAS = Traffic Alert & Collision System

TIFS = Total In-Flight Simulator

Tri Gear = Tricycle style landing gear with nose wheel

TRIM = Trails & Roads Interdiction Multi-sensor

TRs = Thrust Reversers

TT = Total Time (airframe reference)

TTA&E = Total Time Airframe and Engine(s)

TTAE = Total Time Airframe and Engine(s)

TTAF = Total Time Airframe

TTSN = Total Time Since New (airframe time reference)

Turboprop = A turbine engine driven propeller aircraft

TXP = Transponder

UHF = Ultra High Frequency

UK = United Kingdom, Great Britain, England

USAAC = US Army Air Corps (might also include Air Service)

USAAF = US Army Air Force

USAF = US Air Force

USAS = US Air Service (and Signal Corps)

USCG = US Coast Guard

USFS = US Forestry Service

USMC = US Marine Corps

USN = US Navy

USPO/USPS = US Post Office/Service

VFR = Visual Flight Rules

VHF = Very High Frequency

VLF = Very Low Frequency

VOR = Visual Omni Range (navigation radio)

VTOL = Vertical Takeoff and Landing

WAAF = Women’s Army Air Force

Wet Wings = Method for containing fuel in the wings without using rubber fuel cells

XPDR = Transponder


• States are shown by their current two-letter ZIP codes (OH = Ohio, etc).

• Civil airlines often appear by their popular abbreviations (TWA, UAL, etc).

Army & Air Force Designations

A = Ambulance 1919-24
A = Attack 1924-48
A = Motorized target 1940-41
A = Amphibian 1948-55
AC = Fixed-wing Cargo (Army)
AG = Assault Glider 1944
AO = Artillery Observation 1919-24
AO = Fixed-wing Observation (Army)
AT = Advanced Trainer 1924-48
B = Bomber
B = Unmanned missile
BC = Basic Combat trainer
BG = Bomb Glider
BLR = Bomber, Long-Range
BQ = Ground-launched controllable bomb
BT = Basic Trainer
C = Cargo and transport
CG = Cargo Glider
CO = Corps Observation
CO = Controlled target
COA = Corps Observation Amphibian
DB = Day Bombardment
F = Photo-reconnaissance c.1944-48
F = Fighter 1948–>
FG = Fuel Glider
FM = Fighter Multi-place
G = Autogyro 1930-48
G = Glider 1948-55
GA = Ground Attack
H = Helicopter 1962–>
HB = Heavy Bombardment
HC = Helicopter, Cargo (Army)
HO = Helicopter, Observation (Army)
HU = Helicopter, Utility (Army)
IL = Infantry Liaison 1922
L = Liaison
M = Messenger
NBL = Night Bombardment, Long-distance
NBS = Night Bombardment, Short-distance
NO = Night Observation
O = Observation
OA = Observation Amphibian
P = Pursuit
PA = Pursuit, Air-cooled
PB = Pursuit, Bi-place
PG = Pursuit, Ground attack
PG = Powered Glider
PN = Pursuit, Night
PQ = Target vehicle
PS = Pursuit, Special
PT = Primary Trainer
PW = Pursuit, Water-cooled
R = Racer 1921-22
R = Rotary-wing
R = Reconnaissance 1948
RB = Photo-reconnaissance Bomber 1948
RF = Photo-reconnaissance
S = Sonic testing
T = Transport
T = Trainer
TA = Trainer, Air-cooled
TG = Training Glider
TP = Two-place Pursuit
TW = Trainer, Water-cooled
U = Utility
UC = Utility and Cargo
V = Convertoplane 1952-62
V = VTOL/STOL, 1962–>
VZ = Vertical lift (Army) 1958-62
Y,Y1 = Provisional field testing
X = Experimental 19??-1948
X = Special research 1948–>

USN, USCG, USMC Designations

First letter(s) defines the primary role:
B = Bomber 1931–>
BF = Bomber-Fighter 1934-37
G = Transport, single-engine 1939-19??
GS = Gnôme Scout (one-time use by Curtiss Co) 1918
H = Hospital ambulance 1929-31
J = Transport 1923-31
J = Utility 1931-??
JR = Utility-Transport 1937-??
M = USMC Expeditionary 1922-25
N = Trainer 1923-19?
O = Observation 1922(?)
OS = Observation-Scout 1934-?
P = Patrol, 1922–>
PB = Patrol-Bomber 1934-??
PT = Patrol-Torpedo 1922 only
PTB = Patrol-Torpedo-Bomber 1937-38
R = Racer 1923-28
R = Transport 1931-??
S = Scout 1922-??
SB = Scout-Bomber 1934-??
SN = Scout-Trainer 1939-??
SO = Scout-Observation 1936-??
T = Transport 1927-30
T = Torpedo 1922–>
TB = Torpedo-Bomber 1934-??

Letter following a number or primary role denotes manufacturer (prior to 1923 it was first, followed by the class designation):

A = Aeromarine; Atlantic; Brewster
B = Beech; Boeing
C = Curtiss; Cessna 1943-51; Culver 19??-46; de Havilland (Canada) 1955-62
D = Douglas; McDonnell 1942-46
DH = de Havilland (England) 1927-31
DW = Dayton-Wright 1923
E = Bellanca; Detroit; Elias; Piper 1941-45; Cessna 1951-62; Hiller 1948-62
F = Fokker; Grumman; Fairchild-Canada 1942-45
G = Eberhart; Great Lakes; Gallaudet 1929-35; Goodyear 1942-62
H = Hall-Aluminum; Howard; Huff-Daland; Stearman-Hammond 1937-39; McDonnell 1946-62
J = Berliner-Joyce; General; North American
K = Fairchild; Keystone; Kinner; Kreider-Reisner; Kaman 1950-62
L = Bell; Loening
M = Martin; General Motors (Eastern A/C) 1942-45; Naval Air Development 1948-62
N = Naval Aircraft Factory; Gyrodyne 1955-62
O = Lockheed; Viking
P = Pitcairn; Spartan; Piasecki 1946-55; Vertol 1955-62
Q = Fairchild; Hall; Stinson
R = Ford; Maxon; Ryan; Interstate 1942-62
S = Stearman; Sikorsky; Stout
T = New Standard; Northrop; Taylorcraft 1942-46; TEMCO 1955-62; Timm 1943-45
U = Vought-Sikorsky
V = Vultee/Consolidated-Vultee; Lockheed 1942-62; Willys-Overland 1948-62
W = Waco; Wright; Canadian Car & Foundry 1942-45
X = Cox-Klemin
Y = Consolidated
Z = Pennsylvania

Multiservice Helicopter Role Designations

CH = Cargo
EH = Electronics warfare
HH = Rescue
MH = Multipurpose
RH = Minesweeping
SH = Anti-sub warfare
VH = VIP transport
YH = Developmental