Monday, June 30, 2008

Abridgement Too FAR

In Canada, flying activities are governed by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, generally called the CARs, pronounced just like the things people use to drive around on the ground in. As a pilot for a Canadian operation, in the United States I'm subject to the CARs and also the FARs, the Fed eral Aviation Regulations governing air operations in the United States. And for ten years I've rhymed the names for the two sets of regs.

Recently I received e-mail from an American B777 pilot in which he mentioned being asked for his interpretation of "an FAR." He's a native speaker of English, and not someone I'd expect to make an error in his choice of indefinite article. From this evidence, the way he pronounces FAR clearly begins with a vowel. I know which one, and e-mail him to confirm. Yep. Americans pronounce FAR "Eff-Ay-Arr" spelled out, not pronounced as if it were a word. And officially, it seems, they are "the FAR" not "the FARs." Even more officially, when referred to by number, an FAR transforms into a CFR. I'm not quite sure how that happens.

I've heard Canadians say "air regs" or "the Canadian Air Regs" but never "the See-Ay-Arrs." And it's not that Americans are averse to pronouncing their aviation abbreviations. About the same time it finally dawned on me that there's another abbreviation I've been pronouncing incorrectly all this time: MOA. What I would formerly have called "an MOA" but now know to be "a MOA" is a Military Operations Area: a chunk of airspace where people are flying really pointy airplanes really fast, or firing rockets, or conducting other activities that are either hazardous to general aviation, or hazardous to national security for others to know about. I have often called up Flight Services to ask about the status of "the Whatchamacallit MOA" without being corrected. But then "Em-Oh-Ay" versus moa to rhyme with boa is not such a big difference. Maybe they thought I was a hesitant Canadian, asking about the "um...moa, eh?" At any rate, no one at the FSS was bothered by my pronunciation.

Hey you guys do say "the Eff-Ess-Ess" and not the "Ffsssss," right? I thought I was joking when I started to type that, but an American referring to a Flight Standards District Office by its abbreviation sounds like he is saying Fizz-Dough, so maybe it's worth asking.


Buzzoff said...

Hmmm...I hate to muddy the water, but I DO say 'M-O-A'...

And I know for a fact I'm not that unusual in that...

Tina Marie said...

I say eff-aye-are. MOAs are 'mow-ah's. And my airplane is old enough to have been certificated under the old US CARs - which I pronounce 'car'.

FSS: for some reason, I never use the acronym - they're either "flight watch" or "the weather". But if I did, it would be eff-ess-ess.

Anonymous said...

As with many things - it depends...

-FAR (like CAR), as in FAR/AIM

-M-O-A when on the radio. But I do think Mow-ah when reading it...

-Fiz-dohs are always Fiz-dohs

As above, I never say F-S-S, but that's how I'd say it if I did.

Of course, I've been told I'm the only guy anybody has ever heard say E-Double A, vice E-A-A...

How about aye-ohh-pah vice A-O-P-A? Surely for you fairer skinned ilk you say "coh-pah" vice C-O-P-A, right?

Anonymous said...

I say "MOA" like "boa", but may also say "emm oh eh" (sorry, bad Canadian joke pun!. I use them interchangeably and have observed many other American pilots doing the same.

I saw "FAR" like "car", but occasionally will say "eff ay arr". I use them interchangeably and also observe other American pilots doing the same.

When an American says "CFR" -- and that's a trend I've only noticed the past few years, I think it simply formalizes the reference to which chapter of US code (law) they're referring to. For example, FAR "part 61" talks about pilot certification. I could talk to another pilot and say "FAR (like car) 61.something" and they'd know what I meant. However, were my instructor to give me a flight review, the official nomenclature they're supposed to write out is "14 CFR 61.something"; apparently all american FARs are a part of "14 CFR".

Hopefully that wasn't too confusing of an explanation.

Anonymous said...

Mow-a not M-O-A,
FAR like car or FARs like cars. (Of course in some circles, FAR are Federal Acquisition Regulations to complicate things)
Sue-a for SUA.
F-S-S of course!
And Fizz-dough for FSDO.
AIM not A-I-M.

My oddity: VOR for V-O-R
But ILS is always I-L-S and ADB is always A-D-B.

Anonymous said...

CFR stands for code of federal regulations, which are where US government regulations are codified (as compared to USC, or United States code, which are where US laws are codified).

Title 14 (which is what the 14 before the CFR acronym is referencing) relates to aeronautics and space. Since all FARs are in title 14, this reference therefore becomes redundant.

Anonymous said...

FSS = Flight Service
M-O-As don't rhyme with boas.
We don't fly in T-F-Rs.
Helicopters land in L-Zs
My Luscombe was certified under the C-A-Rs
FSDOs are always Fizz-Doughs.

And I'm D-A

John Schlosser said...

I've heard both FAR and ef-Ay-arrrrr. I had a whole class just studying those in A&P school, ugh.

chris said...

Adding to the confusion:

The whole book is the "far" "aim".

An individual rule or regulation from the FAR/AIM is an F-A-R.

M-O-A, not boa.

F-S-S, not FFfssss (the latter makes me chuckle).

Fiz-doh, not F-S-D-O.

V-O-R, not "vor", but a VOR colocated with TACAN is always a "vortac". :-)

Very little of it makes any sense at all.

Anonymous said...

when refering to Federal Aviation Regulations i say eff aye are. When refering to Federal Aquisition Regulations (I'm a civil servant) I say FAR.
Just adding some more confusion :)

Anonymous said...

I recently participated in a conversation relating to this on a pilot forum. The conversation went on for over a month. The general consensus at the end of that period was that no one knew anything and damn the rules anyway! That said, it turns out that a VAST majority of us simply apply "the three letter rule". That is, anything less then three letters gets pronounced as individual letters and anything more than three letters gets pronounced as a word. The notable exception to this was that the entire set of of regulations are pronounced as the Far's as in FAR/AIM and individual regulations get the individual letters.

oh, and no... no one says Fsssss no matter how appropriate the sound of static might be for them. ;)

Anonymous said...

Were I once again required to pronounce acronyms using phonetic alphabet (as in "Mike-Oscar Alpha") I might start calling them the name of a large flightless bird. If I FLEW in a Mike-Oscar-Alph though I might find out what an "Alpha India Mike" is...also known affectionately and euphonically as "Fox One" and Fox Two" (aka Phoenix and Sidewinder, some of those sharp fast pointy things you want to avoid in the MOA).
I'm so confuuused...(:(>>>

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

And back at the airport you have

TSO- plain old grunt
LTSO- grunt with more power
STSO- grunt who yells at you and gets paid at least 3x above normal
PM- person who decides if you get the time off
TM-person who looks busy because they have no clue what they are doing
BDO- Observation --for sketchy pax
LEO- They can help when they want to
FSD- Ostrich like person who hasn't a clue
TDC- Like ultraviolet man
Exit Monitor: Don't you see that sign? It says no entrance without clearance, and you have crossed the magic red line so move along, these aren't the droids you are looking for.

Life in the terminal is almost as confusing as life in the air.