Aeronautical Terms beginning with M

Mach number

The ratio of the true airspeed of the aircraft to the speed of sound in the same atmospheric conditions, named in honor of Ernst Mach, late 19th century physicist.


Mach meter

The instrument that displays the ratio of the speed of sound to the true airspeed an aircraft is flying.


Magnetic bearing (MB)

The direction to or from a radio transmitting station measured relative to magnetic north.


Magnetic heading (MH)

The direction an aircraft is pointed with respect to magnetic north.


Mandatory altitude

An altitude depicted on an instrument approach chart with the altitude value both underscored and overscored. Aircraft are required to maintain altitude at the depicted value.


Mandatory block altitude

An altitude depicted on an instrument approach chart with two underscored and overscored altitude values between which aircraft are required to maintain altitude.


Margin identification

The top and bottom areas on an instrument approach chart that depict information about the procedure, including airport location and procedure identification.


Marker beacon

A low-powered transmitter that directs its signal upward in a small, fan-shaped pattern. Used along the flight path when approaching an airport for landing, marker beacons indicate both aurally and visually when the aircraft is directly over the facility.


Maximum altitude

An altitude depicted on an instrument approach chart with overscored altitude value at which or below aircraft are required to maintain altitude.


Maximum authorized altitude (MAA)

A published altitude representing the maximum usable altitude or flight level for an airspace structure or route segment.


Mean sea level

The average height of the surface of the sea at a particular location for all stages of the tide over a 19-year period.


Microwave landing system (MLS)

A precision instrument approach system operating in the microwave spectrum which normally consists of an azimuth station, elevation station, and precision distance measuring equipment.


Mileage breakdown

A fix indicating a course change that appears on the chart as an x at a break between two segments of a federal airway.


Military operations area (MOA)

Airspace established for the purpose of separating certain military training activities from IFR traffic.


Military training route (MTR)

Airspace of defined vertical and lateral dimensions established for the conduct of military training at airspeeds in excess of 250 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS).


Minimum altitude

An altitude depicted on an instrument approach chart with the altitude value underscored. Aircraft are required to maintain altitude at or above the depicted value.


Minimum crossing altitude (MCA)

The lowest allowed altitude at certain fixes an aircraft must cross when proceeding in the direction of a higher minimum en route altitude (MEA).


Minimum descent altitude (MDA)

The lowest altitude (in feet MSL) to which descent is authorized on final approach, or during circle-to-land maneuvering in execution of a nonprecision approach.


Minimum en route altitude (MEA)

The lowest published altitude between radio fixes that ensures acceptable navigational signal coverage and meets obstacle clearance requirements between those fixes.


Minimum obstruction clearance altitude (MOCA)

The lowest published altitude in effect between radio fixes on VOR airways, off-airway routes, or route segments, which meets obstacle clearance requirements for the entire route segment and which ensures acceptable navigational signal coverage only within 25 statute (22 nautical) miles of a VOR.


Minimum reception altitude (MRA)

The lowest altitude at which an airway intersection can be determined.


Minimum safe altitude (MSA)

The minimum altitude depicted on approach charts which provides at least 1,000 feet of obstacle clearance for emergency use within a specified distance from the listed navigation facility.


Minimum vectoring altitude (MVA)

An IFR altitude lower than the minimum en route altitude (MEA) that provides terrain and obstacle clearance.


Minimums section

The area on an IAP chart that displays the lowest altitude and visibility requirements for the approach.


Missed approach

A maneuver conducted by a pilot when an instrument approach cannot be completed to a landing.


Missed approach point (MAP)

A point prescribed in each instrument approach at which a missed approach procedure shall be executed if the required visual reference has not been established.


Mixed ice

A mixture of clear ice and rime ice.


Mode C

Altitude Reporting Transponder Mode.


Multi-function display (MFD)

Small screen (CRT or LCD) in an aircraft that can be used to display information to the pilot in numerous configurable ways. Often an MFD will be used in concert with a Primary Flight Display.


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