The ABCs of Charter

A glossary of terms and verbiage common in the industry.


Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast – is an advanced surveillance technology that combines an aircraft’s positioning source, avionics, and ground infrastructure to create an accurate surveillance interface between aircraft and air traffic control.

Airport to Door

Service by which the shipper or customer is responsible for bringing the freight to the airport and Revolution X is responsible for ground transportation from the destination airport to the consignee.

Air Cargo Manifest

An administrative document listing the goods on a ship or aircraft.

Aircraft Contour

The curvature of an aircraft's fuselage as it pertains to its ability to carry cargo (think literally putting square freight in round tubes).

Air Operator

Any person, organization, or enterprise that undertakes to engage in domestic commercial air transport or international commercial air transport, whether directly or indirectly or by lease or any other arrangement.

Airport to Airport

Services by which the customer is responsible for the origin ground transportation and destination ground transportation. Revolution X provides service from the origin airport to the destination airport.

Air Traffic Control

The ground-based personnel and equipment concerned with monitoring and controlling air traffic within a particular area.

Air Waybill

A document that accompanies goods shipped by an international air courier to provide detailed information about the shipment and allow it to be tracked.

All-Cargo Aircraft

A fixed-wing aircraft designed/converted for the carriage of cargo rather than passengers.

Alternate Airport

An airport at which an aircraft would land should a diversion become necessary.


Automated Manifest System, containing three subsystems for air, sea, and rail. This system provides paperwork to US Customs.

AOG (Aircraft on Ground)

Aircraft on Ground – refers to an aircraft failure to operate due to a mechanical failure. AOGs can occur at any time.

Automated Export System (AES)

A computer system that collects Electronic Export Information (EEI) and is usually required to be filed for goods exported from the United States.


The electronic equipment in an aircraft, usually used for navigation and communication.

Basic Operating Weight (Aircraft)

The total weight of the aircraft including aircraft and crew. This weight does not include payload or fuel.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

A document describing commodities, the name of the consignor, payment terms, and contains other terms. There are many types of bills of lading.

Block Time

The time between releasing the parking brake and engaging the parking brake. Block time includes time for all phases of the flight, including taxiing and parking.

Bonded Goods

Goods moving within US Boundaries but has not been processed by U.S customs.

Bonded Warehouse

A warehouse providing temporary storage for goods before customs processing and the payment of duties and taxes.

Braking Action

A description of how easily an aircraft can stop after landing on a runway.

CCP (Consolidation and Containerization Point)

Mexican Tax Authority uses this to certify ownership/type, origin/destination, and mode of transportation of goods being transported.


The right to operate an aircraft within a particular territory. No foreign operator may operate a domestic trip in another country. For example, a United States “N” registered aircraft would not be able to operate a flight from Mexico City to Queretaro.

Ceiling (Pertaining to Weather)

The height above the ground or water of the base of the lowest layer of clouds covering more than half the sky.

Center of Gravity

The point of which an aircraft would balance if suspended from that point. It is the theoretical point where the entire weight of the aircraft is assumed to be concentrated.

Certificate (Air Carrier)

Permission from the US Department of Transportation to operate aircraft for hire, and the verification an air carrier is capable of operating at the highest degree of safety within a given statute of regulations (Part 135, 121, and 125).

Certificate of Origin (Freight)

An international trade document, certifying that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured, or processed in a particular country.

Commercial Invoice

An international trade document intended to keep shipments moving through customs quickly and efficiently by identifying what taxes need to be applied. It functions as both a binding contract and a bill of sale. In air charter, a commercial invoice is obtained and used to generate an Air Waybill and Air Cargo Manifest.


The entity responsible for the receipt of a shipment.


Any wind that has a perpendicular component relative to the direction of travel. Aircraft land into the wind and attempt to avoid crosswind components when possible.

Cruising Speed

The average speed at which the aircraft travels through the air when it is not actively climbing or descending.

Customs Broker

Customs brokers play a crucial role in the importation and exportation of cargo. They ensure all necessary documentation is in order, calculate duties and taxes, and coordinate with government agencies.

Customs Clearance

The process of declaring goods to customs authorities when leaving or entering a country. The customs clearance is normally coordinated by a customs broker.


An industry-specific term that refers to page 85, Section D of a charter operator's federally mandated manual. It lists all aircraft the operator may legally offer to clients for charters.

Dangerous Goods Declaration

A form confirming that any dangerous goods being shipped have been packed, labeled, declared, and signed by all consignors according to IATA dangerous goods regulations.

Declared Value

What the shipper says the goods are worth. Declared value ensures a speedy customs clearance and is assigned to imported goods by the importer of record.


De-icing is the process of removing frozen precipitations from aircraft using special types of fluid. There are four types of de-icing fluids, each made of a different chemical mixture. Type 1 and Type 4 are the most common types of fluid in North America.


A charge payable to a carrier in respect to failure to load the aircraft on time.

Density Altitude

Pressure altitude corrected for temperature. It defines the flight characteristics based on atmospheric conditions and where the aircraft “thinks” it is. Density altitude is highly affected by temperature, elevation, and humidity.

Door to Door

The movement of goods from the shipper to the consignee, including origin ground transportation, loading, flight, offloading, and ground transportation to the consignee.

Duty Time (Flight Crew)

The amount of time a crew is allowed to be made available. Different carriers have different crew duty time requirements based on a variety of factors. NOTE: Flight Time is not the same as Duty Time.

Empty Leg

A flight without a payload. Air Carriers try to avoid empty legs.

Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA)

The time at which an aircraft is expected to arrive at its destination.

Estimated Time of Departure (ETD)

The time at which an aircraft is expected to depart its origin.

Federal Aviation Administration

The organization within the Department of Transportation that oversees all United States flight operations.

Final Approach

The last leg of an aircraft's approach to landing, when the aircraft is lined up with the runway and descending for landing.

Fixed Base Operator (FBO)

The business at the airport that facilitates aircraft fueling, loading, offloading and other services. At smaller airports, the FBO may be operated by a local municipality.

Federal Excise Tax

The tax levied on the commercial carriage of goods and cargo. FET for air cargo operations is 6.25% and 7.5% for passenger operations. All quotes from Revolution X include Federal Excise Tax.

Flight Number

A 1- to 4-digit number used as a designator code for aircraft. It helps air traffic control organize and track flights.

Ground Handler

The company responsible for loading the freight onto an aircraft. Airports can have multiple ground handlers and ground handler equipment and capability varies widely.

Gross Weight

The total aircraft weight (including fuel, crew, and payload) at any point during flight or ground operation. The aircraft's gross weight in flight decreases as it burns fuel.


International Air Transport Association – The Global trade association of both passenger and cargo airlines that regulates the aviation industry by developing standards, procedures, and practices.


Three-letter (3) code specific to individual airports. This is the code more commonly recognized by passengers and the general public. Codes are typically derived from the name of the airport or city serviced, with no geographical reference to the actual location.


Four-letter (4) code specific to individual airports. IACO codes provide a geographical reference, with the first one or two letters indicating the country or region and the remaining letters identifying the airport.

Initial Approach

The phase of flight between the cruise and the final approach. The initial approach often includes maneuvering throughout a descent to be sequenced onto the final approach.

Instrument Landing System (ILS)

The system that allows for both vertical and lateral guidance to be provided to the flight crew to ensure the aircraft is guided safely to the runway during low visibility.

Instrument Flight Rules

Rules and regulations to govern flight conditions under which, navigation by outside visual reference, is not safe.

Live Leg

The flight time from the origin airport to the destination airport with the freight on board the aircraft. This term is used almost exclusively in on-demand air charter.


Meteorological Terminal Aviation Routine Weather Report – A weather report generated by an airport-based weather station, usually once per hour.

Nautical Mile

Unit of measure for distance at sea, equivalent to 1.1508 statute miles. Nautical miles are based on the earth’s longitude and latitude coordinates with one nautical mile equivalent to one minute of latitude.

Net Weight

Net weight refers to the weight of the cargo only and excludes packaging and any additional resources used for shipping.


Next Flight Out – NFO shipments involved the “next flight out” on commercial air service. In most cases, charters are faster than NFO shipments because they are not beholden to airline schedules.


Notice to Airmen – A published notification to flight crews advising them of circumstances related to flight. These notifications can include everything from runway and taxiway closures to weather advisories to airport closures due to events such as air shows.

On Board Courier (OBC)

A person responsible for accompanying freight onto commercial airline service.

Packing List

A list that itemizes the contents of each package and usually includes weights, measurements, and a list of the goods.

Part 121 (Regulatory)

Part 121 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations. This chapter covers scheduled airlines and larger aircraft, generally aircraft capable of carrying over 7,500 LBS of cargo.

Part 135 (Regulatory)

Part 135 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations. This chapter is required for an operator to act as a non-scheduled air charter carrier.

Phonetic Alphabet

Set of words assigned to the 26 letters of the English alphabet as a clear means of communication. Used by the US Military and also adopted by the FAA and other worldwide aviation organizations.


Proof of Delivery – A proof of delivery, quite simply put, consists of two things: a person and a time. Hard Copy Proof of Deliveries is a POD written on a paper receipt or signed form.

Position Time

An on-demand air cargo time notated in hours and minutes.


The non-movement area of an airport's taxiway and tarmac area. The ramp is used exclusively for aircraft staging and the loading and offloading of aircraft.


An airport pairing of origin and destination.


A Standard Carrier Alpha Code – a unique two to four-letter code used to identify transportation companies.


A specific airport routing within a longer trip. For example, Detroit to Laredo with a fuel stop in Little Rock, would have two flight segments. One from Detroit to Little Rock and a second segment from Little Rock to Laredo.

Service Ceiling

The maximum altitude of an aircraft during normal operations.

Slot (Landing)

A Landing slot is a time window by which an aircraft can arrive or depart. Slots are required at certain airports at certain times (sometimes all the time).

Statute Mile

Unit of measure for distance/length, equivalent to 5,280 feet.


The Terminal Aerodrome Forecast is a meteorological condition forecast covering expected weather for a 24- or 30-hour timeframe. TAFs include information about wind speed and direction, visibility, present weather, cloud heights and, low-level wind shear.


Temporary Flight Restriction – Defined as restricted airspace due to a hazardous condition, special event, or security purposes.


Visual Flight Rules – A set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. These rules differ from Instrument Flight Rules.

Widebody Aircraft

An airliner with a fuselage wide enough to accommodate two passenger aisles with seven or more seats abreast. A typical widebody diameter is 16-20 feet.