Aeronautical Terms beginning with L

Lateral Axis

An imaginary line passing through the center of gravity of an airplane and extending across the airplane from wingtip to wingtip.

Lateral Stability (Rolling)

The stability about the longitudinal axis of an aircraft. Rolling stability or the ability of an airplane to return to level flight due to a disturbance that causes one of the wings to drop.

Lead-Acid Battery

A commonly used secondary cell having lead as its negative plate and lead peroxide as its positive plate. Sulfuric acid and water serve as the electrolyte.

Leading Edge

The part of an airfoil that meets the airflow first.

Leading Edge Devices

High lift devices which are found on the leading edge of the airfoil. The most common types are fixed slots, movable slats, and leading edge flaps.

Leading Edge Flap

A portion of the leading edge of an airplane wing that folds downward to increase the camber, lift, and drag of the wing. The leading-edge flaps are extended for takeoffs and landings to increase the amount of aerodynamic lift that is produced at any given airspeed.

Licensed Empty Weight

The empty weight that consists of the airframe, engine(s), unusable fuel, and undrainable oil plus standard and optional equipment as specified in the equipment list. Some manufacturers used this term prior to GAMA standardization.


One of the four main forces acting on an aircraft. On a fixed-wing aircraft, an upward force created by the effect of airflow as it passes over and under the wing.

Lift Coefficient

A coefficient representing the lift of a given airfoil. Lift coefficient is obtained by dividing the lift by the free-stream dynamic pressure and the representative area under consideration.


The act of becoming airborne as a result of the wings lifting the airplane off the ground, or the pilot rotating the nose up, increasing the angle of attack to start a climb.

Lift/Drag Ratio

The efficiency of an airfoil section. It is the ratio of the coefficient of lift to the coefficient of drag for any given angle of attack.

Limit Load Factor

Amount of stress, or load factor, that an aircraft can withstand before structural damage or failure occurs.

Load Factor

The ratio of the load supported by the airplane’s wings to the actual weight of the aircraft and its contents. Also referred to as G-loading.

Longitudinal Axis

An imaginary line through an aircraft from nose to tail, passing through its center of gravity. The longitudinal axis is also called the roll axis of the aircraft. Movement of the ailerons rotates an airplane about its longitudinal axis.

Longitudinal Stability (Pitching)

Stability about the lateral axis. A desirable characteristic of an airplane whereby it tends to return to its trimmed angle of attack after displacement.

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