Friday, September 04, 2009


Someone pointed out to me recently in e-mail that aviation people rarely say the name of the airport, but rather just say or type the code. It's true. Some of it is just because the code is shorter. Why type out Yellowknife or Saskatoon when the recipient knows perfectly well where YZF and YXE are? Why say all four syllables of Iqaluit when YFB does the job in three. (And if it's in written form, also avoids the risk of typing Iqualuit, which is something else entirely). In my experience people rarely say YYZ, because "Pearson" is shorter. But few people are going to say Kangiqsualujjuaq if they can help it. Savvy passengers for whom Kangiqsualujjuaq is a simple word in their native tongue will say "YLU" to make sure they don't get taken to Kangiqsujuaq.

Part of it is because I'm not going to Moosonee. I'm going to YMO. I'm going to land at YMO, get the passengers on board and get back to YTS. I've never actually been to many of the towns whose airports are familiar to me.

Yeah, there are a lot of Xs and other letters with no relationship to the town name in the codes, but you get used to them. Aviation likes Xs. We have a lot of abbreviations with Xs.

The other day someone from mx told me to record "oil px." I'm not sure I'd seen that one before, but I knew exactly what it was. What else can you record about oil that begins with P, other than pressure? The ambiguity of x-based abbreviations can be bad though. It hard to tell a scribbled m from a scribbled w. So if a pilot scrawl looks like "cx for wx," you might later have to go to the journey log to figure out if the flight was cancelled for weather or for maintenance.

Let's see what we've got:

  • ax - got one in locker with the emergency gear, although of course I spell it axe
  • cx - cancelled
  • ex - pilots have a few, the lifestyle isn't good for long-term relationships
  • mx - maintenance
  • ox - perhaps if you don't have a tractor you could use oxen to tow into the hangar
  • px - pressure/pax
  • rx - have to clear these with your CAME
  • sx - seen this for speed
  • tx - seen for tickets, don't know if it's widespread
  • vx - best angle of climb speed
  • wx - weather
  • xx - vertical clouds topped off the chart (weather symbol)

So there's lots of room for more. Anyone seen others in use, or have creative suggestions for bx dx fx gx hx ix jx kx lx nx qx ux yx & zx?


Dadette said...

Special FX

Dadette said...

I've also seen XPDR during my brief xp on the G1000.

XP could pretend to stand for experience.

Dadette said...

Ok, last comment, I promise:
xc - cross country
xm - satellite radio


Jeremy said...

Some others:

dx - distance (used by radio fans, often with HF radio and the like)

rx/tx - receive/transmit for radios

ex - can also be used to mean "origin" - a flight that is "ex-YYZ" originated at Pearson.

ix - nine? :-)

qx - this means something in Perl computer programming, but that's a bit esoteric for here!

Aviatrix said...

Oh yeah, I missed that. We use tx/rx all the time. TX even displays on some radio stacks when you have the PTT in.

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

dx is also a shortcut for a diagnosis on a medical report.

rx is a prescription.

dpierce said...

Not quite 2 letters, but I frequently see and use ...

xlate = translate
xfer = transfer
xport = transport (but not export)
xfeed = crossfeed
trfx = traffic
rex = recreation
xchg = exchange
hx = history
sx = schedule
sxp = strategic transport
dmx = demolition
xld = cross-load
fx = fracture

Seems 'X' is frequently used to represent "trans-" and "cross-", in general.

SwL_Wildcat said...

From the above link "Iqualuit = "people with unwiped bums"" Now WHY would you need 1 word to describe this situation? Does it come up all that often that they needed just 1 word to describe it? Brings on a whold new meaning to "hanging out in Iqualuit"...

nec Timide said...

This link may answer SwL_Wildcat's question.

Aviatrix said...

It's an agglutinative language, meaning that words are build up on the fly from parts. It's not that they had the word lying around ready to use. They just had the parts available, and the PMO assembled the wrong ones.

Here's an explanation of the parts.

Anonymous said...

HX - Heathrow Express, one of the world's most expensive train services, mile for mile.

townmouse said...

dx = wildfowl on the runway?

Ed said...

TX even displays on some radio stacks when you have the PTT in.

Many (e.g., ICOM handhelds) also display RX when the squelch opens.

Sarah said...

They just had the parts available, and the PMO assembled the wrong ones.

Thanks for that simultaneous linkage, Aviatrix & Nec Timide. I only regret he didn't use the word in a speech to the residents, their expressions would have been priceless. "Thank you, thank you, all you kind residents of big poopybutts."

It would have made "Ich bin ein berliner" look like nothing. ( Yes, I know that wasn't really the way the phrase was understood, but it's a joke. )

Unknown said...

I have a better one for OX, what about oxygen? Since that seems more aviation related than Oxen ;)

Aviatrix said...

I've not noticed OX. I use O2.

Anonymous said...

NASA uses LOX for liquid oxigen in the big tank of the space shuttle.

dpierce said...

AX ... Aerial extraction

zb said...

dpierce, yes, x is often used for cross-something or trans-something. Maybe the most common one is


as in rr-xing.

Electrical: A Transformer often is called


which looks way cool.

Electrical People also often abbreviate crystal as


I guess the etymology goes that crys- sounds a bit like cross-, and it was already common to abbreviate cross- with x-, so why bother about the difference between -y- and -o- and the extra s in the original word. Heck, it looks sooo cool on a circuit diagram with a crystal oscillator: The XTAL really stands out between all the Rs, Cs, and Qs for the resistors, capacitors and transistors.

I yet have to see somebody use


for transistor, though. Maybe that's just too many odd-sounding letters in one abbreviation.

The best part about the entire post is, however, that pax was used as an explanation for px.

Charlie said...

the origin of the "xtal" abbreviation is much more probably because cryst reminded someone of christ.
Christ has been abbreviated to x since centuries ago, eg in "xmas" for christmas and such.

That's my addition to the list by the way.
xmas = christmas

Cirrocumulus said...

X in acronyms for words that start with "ex".
Back in the 1960s our government PTT (post & telegraph) office had a project to develop a Small Electronic Exchange (SEX). They changed the acronym to PABX at the last minute before it went public.