Aeronautical Terms beginning with P


Precipitation Static.

Parasite drag

Drag caused by the friction of air moving over the aircraft structure; its amount varies directly with the airspeed.

Pilot-in-command (PIC)

The pilot responsible for the operation and safety of an aircraft.

Pilot report (PIREP)

Report of meteorological phenomena encountered by aircraft.

Pilot’s Operating Handbook/Airplane Flight Manual (POH/AFM)

FAA-approved documents published by the airframe manufacturer that list the operating conditions for a particular model of aircraft.

Pitot pressure

Ram air pressure used to measure airspeed.

Pitot-static head

A combination pickup used to sample pitot pressure and static air pressure.

Plan view

The overhead view of an approach procedure on an instrument approach chart. The plan view depicts the routes that guide the pilot from the en route segments to the IAF.

Point-in-space approach

A type of helicopter instrument approach procedure to a missed approach point more than 2,600 feet from an associated helicopter landing area.

Position error

Error in the indication of the altimeter, ASI, and VSI caused by the air at the static system entrance not being absolutely still.

Position report

A report over a known location as transmitted by an aircraft to ATC.


The characteristic of a gyroscope that causes an applied force to be felt, not at the point of application, but 90° from that point in the direction of rotation.

Precipitation static (P-static)

A form of radio interference caused by rain, snow, or dust particles hitting the antenna and inducing a small radio-frequency voltage into it.

Precision approach

A standard instrument approach procedure in which both vertical and horizontal guidance is provided.

Precision approach path indicator (PAPI)

A system of lights similar to the VASI, but consisting of one row of lights in two- or four-light systems. A pilot on the correct glide slope will see two white lights and two red lights. See VASI.

Precision approach radar (PAR)

A type of radar used at an airport to guide an aircraft through the final stages of landing, providing horizontal and vertical guidance. The radar operator directs the pilot to change heading or adjust the descent rate to keep the aircraft on a path that allows it to touch down at the correct spot on the runway.

Precision runway monitor (PRM)

System allows simultaneous, independent Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) approaches at airports with closely spaced parallel runways.

Preferred IFR routes

Routes established in the major terminal and en route environments to increase system efficiency and capacity. IFR clearances are issued based on these routes, listed in the A/FD except when severe weather avoidance procedures or other factors dictate otherwise.

Pressure altitude

Altitude above the standard 29.92" Hg plane.

Prevailing visibility

The greatest horizontal visibility equaled or exceeded throughout at least half the horizon circle (which is not necessarily continuous).

Primary and supporting

A method of attitude instrument flying using the instrument that provides the most direct indication of attitude and performance.

Primary flight display (PFD)

A display that provides increased situational awareness to the pilot by replacing the traditional six instruments used for instrument flight with an easy-to-scan display that provides the horizon, airspeed, altitude, vertical speed, trend, trim, rate of turn among other key relevant indications.

Procedure turn

A maneuver prescribed when it is necessary to reverse direction to establish an aircraft on the intermediate approach segment or final approach course.

Profile view

Side view of an IAP chart illustrating the vertical approach path altitudes, headings, distances, and fixes.

Prohibited area

Designated airspace within which flight of aircraft is prohibited.

Propeller/rotor modulation error

Certain propeller RPM settings or helicopter rotor speeds can cause the VOR course deviation indicator (CDI) to fluctuate as much as ±6°. Slight changes to the RPM setting will normally smooth out this roughness.

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