Glossary of Terms

What the acronym is this?

Glossary of Terms

Don’t be left confused, check out our glossary to determine what so many drone related acronyms mean.

DroneStripe Ltd. currently only provides UAV  information specific to Canada. We are currently collecting international UAV information which will be added to the site in future updates.

AccelerometerA device that measures acceleration or fast changes in movement. The flight controller (the drone’s central processing unit) uses an accelerometer for the UAVs for flight stabilization.
AGL (Above Ground Level)In aviation, AGL refers to the height or altitude of the drone as compared to the ground surface. If a drone is flying 250 feet above a 100-foot building, the AGL is 150 feet.
AIMAeronautical Information Manual
Altitude Hold FunctionIn this flight mode, the drone maintains a consistent altitude through its onboard barometric pressure sensor. However, the pilot can still control the roll, pitch, and yaw in this setting.
AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics)A nonprofit, self-supporting organization that promotes model aviation, including drones, and drone use as a recreational activity.
A ModeAbbreviation for Atti or Attitude Mode, wherein the drone will maintain a consistent altitude.
ARCALAircraft Radio Control of Aerodrome Lighting
ARTF or ARF (Almost Ready to Fly)The standard for drone operations. Drones that are pre-built, or require minimal assembly before flying.
ASLAbove Sea Level
ATC/ATM (Air Traffic Control or Management)A service in which air traffic controllers on the ground direct traffic within controlled airspace, and advise those in non-controlled airspace. These individuals are trained and administered by the FAA.
ATFAerodrome Traffic Frequency
ATSAir Traffic Service unit (air traffic control for an airspace)
AUW (All Up Weight)The maximum weight of the drone, including batteries and other add-ons.
Autonomous AircraftThe International Civil Aviation Organization classifies autonomous aircraft as, “unmanned aircraft that does not allow pilot intervention in the management of the flight.”
Autonomous FlightIn the drone world, this is flight guided by GPS, without intervention from the pilot.
AutopilotDrone feature that allows the flight to continue without manual control by the pilot.
AxisOn a DJI drone, this is what the gimbal rotates around.
Balanced Battery ChargerSmart technology used to charge and balance Lipo batteries internally.
Barometric Pressure SensorDevice used to measure the pressure of the atmosphere. In aircraft, this, combined with barometric readings, measures the drone’s altitude.
BindThe process of enabling the controller to communicate with the selected drone.
BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight)Requiring a specific permit from the FAA, this is the ability to fly a drone beyond the pilot’s line of sight.
C2 LinkCommand & Control Link (from control unit to aircraft)
CARCanadian Aviation Regulations
CertCertified ( as in a Certified Aerodrome or Heliport)
CFSCanada Flight Supplement (listings of land based aerodromes)
CZControl Zone (for an airspace)
CG or CoG (Center of Gravity)The drone’s center of balance.
CoAs (Certificate of Authorizations)An authorization granted by the FAA that allows a public operator to perform a selected drone flight or activity. This process can take up to 60 days and undergo an operational review.
Collision/Obstacle AvoidanceA feature built-in to some drones that allow the aircraft to sense and avoid obstacles, minimizing collisions.
Commercial DronesA drone that is used for business or profit.
Controlled AirspaceA type of airspace in which air traffic control services are offered depending on the defined dimensions and classification.
DAHDesignated Airspace Manual
Daisy ChainVisual observers assisting the pilot when the drone goes beyond visual line of sight.
DJIThe largest drone manufacturer in the world, located in Shenzhen, China.
DJI Drone Flight ModesFlight modes specific to DJI drones that enable pilots to perform their duties safely and intelligently.
DNDDepartment of National Defence
S ModeAlso known as Sports Mode, the S Mode allows the DJI drone to fly and maneuver twice as fast (about 40 mph to 65 mph)
P ModeThis is the standard flight mode for most pilots. In the P Mode, all sensors on the drone are active including GPS and infrared sensors. This allows precise hovering of the drone, even if the user stops controlling it with the remote controller.
A ModeThe A Mode or Atti Mode is short for Attitude Mode, where the drone will maintain a certain altitude but not position. This allows the drone to remain at the same height but drift around.
DroneAnother term for “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs) or “remotely piloted aircraft” (RPA), covering a wide range of functions.
Electromagnetic InterferenceA disturbance in radio frequency by an external source that disrupts the operation of electronic devices.
EliosA collision-tolerant, full HD and infrared imagery UAV designed for inspection in complex indoor spaces.
ELTEmergency Locator Transmitter
ESC (Electronic Speed Control)Regulates the speed and direction of the drone’s motors.
ElevElevation (above sea level, usually in feet)
ElevatorAnother term for “pitch” – moving the drone up or down.
FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)Regulatory agency under the US Department of Transportation that enforces air safety, installs control facilities, and maintains proper air navigation.
FDUpper level wind and temperature forcast
FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum)To avoid interference and avoid eavesdropping, this method of transmitting radio signals switches carriers amongst numerous frequency channels.
FICFlight Information Centre
FIRFlight Information Region (needed for RPAS Flight Authorization Request)
FirmwareLocated in a drone’s flight controller, this is permanent software updated solely by manufacturers.
Fixed-Wing DronesSimilar to airplanes but without a human pilot on board, these are drones that have a non-detachable wing that make the aircraft capable of flight. They are typically larger and more powerful than commercial drones.
Fixed-Wing DronesSimilar to airplanes but without a human pilot on board, these are drones that have a non-detachable wing that make the aircraft capable of flight. They are typically larger and more powerful than commercial drones.
Flight ControllerDevice used to control how the drone moves, by receiving and processing information from the drone’s sensors.
Flight EnvelopeThe limits to ranges of motion to ensure that the aircraft remains stable.
FLIRAcronym for forwarding Looking Infrared, a company located in The United States. FLIR specializes in infrared technology to detect distant objects in low and zero visibility situations.
Fly AwayAccidental flight outside of the set boundaries of operation.
Fly-Away Protection SystemWhen the communication between pilot and drone is lost, this system will return the drone to the pre-selected area.
FOV (Field of View)The “drone’s-eye” view.
FPV (First Person View)Piloting a drone in real-time through the drone’s camera. Pilots often wear goggles with footage streamed inside.
FPV RacingFirst-person view (FPV), also known as remote-person view (RPV), or simply video piloting, is a method used to control a radio-controlled vehicle from the driver or pilot’s view point. Most commonly it is used to pilot a radio-controlled aircraft or other type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
FrequencyTo maintain communication with the pilot and drone through FPV, both pieces of equipment will need to be on the same radio frequency.
FSSFlight Services Specialist/Station
GeofencingThe use of GPS technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a drone enters or flies within a particular area.
GCS (Ground Control Station)This software runs on the ground on a computer. It receives telemetry information via an airborne UAV. It displays its status and progress. This frequently includes sensor and video data. It can also be used for transmitting in-flight commands up to the UAV in the air.
GFAGraphical Area Forecast
GimbleThis is a specialized mount for a camera, giving it the ability to swerve and tilt by utilizing servos. This gives the camera the capability of staying in one position, regardless of the movement of the drone. This allows for a very smooth and stabilized looking image.
GIS (Geographic Information System)A system used to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.
GLONASS/GNSSGlobalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema, or Global Navigation Satellite System is another satellite network drones use to understand where they are in space.
GNSSGlobal Navigation Satellite System
GPSGlobal positioning system is a space-based navigation system owned by the US government and operated by the US Air Force that consists of satellites, receivers and other technologies that provide accurate location and time information for civil and military use.
GyroscopeA device used to measure and maintain level orientation this sensor is connected to the flight controller to maintain stability.
Head TrackingA feature on some goggles that allows you to maneuver your camera’s angle during flight by moving your head up and down or side to side.
Headless Mode: (see IOC)regardless of the orientation of the craft or the way the front of the craft is pointed, it will follow your stick movements.
HexacopterA multi-rotor aircraft with six rotors. The advantage of a Hexacopter is that even if one engine fails, you will still be able to land the drone safely.
HIRTA (High Intensity
Radio Transmission Area)
Flying through an HIRTA can interfere with the electronics on your drone.
Hobby GradeAn upgrade from a toy drone, these quadcopters are reliable at a reasonable price and are typically equipped with a camera.
IFRInstrument Flight Rules
IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit)A controller that combines an accelerometer and a gyroscope, with the purpose of stabilizing and orienting a quadcopter.
INS (Inertial Navigation System)A system that calculates position based on the initial GPS reading while incorporating speed and motion sensor readings. Useful when a drone loses GPS signal.
IOC (Intelligent Orientation Control)This sets the forward control of the drone to equal with where ever the nose of the drone is pointing.
IP RatingA rating system used to classify the degree of protection that an electrical enclosure has against water and dust.
LAANC (Low Altitude and
Notification Capability system)
LAANC allows drones access to controlled airspace in near real-time. It is a collaboration between the FAA and private companies in support of UAS integration into national airspace.
Lithium Polymer Batter (LIPO)Battery chemistry that offers more power and less weight than NiMh and NiCad batteries. Variants include: Lithium Ion.
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)A method of detecting, measuring, and mapping using a laser. Often used in more difficult to measure situations that require a higher degree of precision.
LiPoShort for Lithium Polymer, LiPo is the type of battery favored by most drone manufacturers due to its low weight and maximized charge capacity and power. Although LiPos are safe, be aware overcharging the battery or breaking the flexible polymer case could result in fire.
Lithium Polymer BatteryLiPo or LiPoly. The Lithium Ion battery (Li Ion) is a variant. Lighter weight and more power is offered by this battery chemistry compared to NiCad and NiMh batteries.
LOS (Line Of Sight)refers to being able to see your drone from your operating position with your naked eye. Your drone should always be within your line of sight
mAh (milliampere hours)A unit of measurement that describes how much ‘power’ a battery can provide before it needs to be recharged.
Mavic 2 Enterprise DualDJI’s upgraded Mavic 2 for enterprise-grade work. The Mavic 2 Enterprise comes in two different camera configurations. The standard Mavic 2 Enterprise has the same optical zoom camera as what is on the Mavic 2 Zoom. The Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual features a standard 4k visual camera and a small thermal camera. The Mavic 2 Enterprise features an extended port that allows you to connect 3 different attachments (speaker, spotlight, strobe).
METAR (Meteorological Terminal
Aviation Routine Weather Report
Also known as a Meteorological Aerodrome Report, METAR is a format for reporting weather information. A typical METAR usually contains data for temperature, dew point, wind direction and speed, precipitation, cloud cover and heights, visibility, and barometric pressure.
MFMandatory Frequency (for an aerodrome)
Mobius CameraPopular lightweight camera model which can shoot video in HD and take intervalometer photos. It was developed mainly to be used with RC drones.
Modmodifications Drone addicts do to their machines to integrate new functions or cool features. These changes are usually called mods.
Mode 1 TransmittersHave throttle on the right stick, and are popular in the UK.
Member TypeBusiness, Freelancer, Hobbyist, Just Browsing
Media TypeDrone Aerial Video, Drone Aerial Photography, GoPro Aerial Footage, G0Pro Land Footage, GoPro Water Footage
Media ClassAdventure/Sport/Rec, Commercial, World is Beautiful, Event
Mode 2 TransmittersHave throttle on the left stick, and are more popular in the USA.
MSL (Mean Sea Level)Refers to the altitude above the average height of the ocean/sea. A UAV flying at 120 feet with a 30-foot hill below would still be at 120 Feet MSL.
NAZAIs a flight controller that is used on the DJI Phantom Drones and it contains the main control chip, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a barometric altimeter.
NMNautical Miles
No Fly ZoneAreas where flying a drone is restricted by government regulations. Areas where a drone could interfere with an airplane or record sensitive information make up most of these areas.
NOTAM (Notice to Airmen)Areas where flying a drone is restricted by government regulations. Areas where a drone could interfere with an airplane or record sensitive information make up most of these areas.
Obstacle AvoidanceA vision that allows UAVs to detect obstacles in its path and avoid collisions.
OPROperator (the operator of an aerodrome, as listed in a CFS)
OSDAbbreviation for “On Screen Display” which shows flight data in text or graphical form. Typically used to show telemetry information such as speed, battery life, heading, etc.
Part 107Required in the US when operating a drone for commercial purposes. Refers to CFR Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations for non-hobbyist unmanned aircraft operations, which covers a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds.
PayloadThe amount of additional weight a drone is able to lift in addition to its own weight and batteries. If you attach a camera and gimbal to your drone, the combined weight is the payload.
PDBStands for Power Distribution Board. Component which allows the power from the battery to be distributed to all the various components on a craft.
PhotogrammetryA method of mapping and surveying achieved by stitching photographs together to create one large image.
PICPilot in Command
PIREPPilot Report
PitchA measure which describes the flight angle along one axis, usually measured from level in case of aerial vehicles. Forward and Backwards motion.
Pre Flight PlanningThe activities conducted by the pilot and flight crew prior to takeoff to ensure that the flight will be conducted safely and in accordance with all applicable standards and regulations. The activity includes, but is not limited to, such things as checking weather, route of flight, airspace, equipment configuration, support personnel, terrain and communications requirements.
PPRPrior Permission Required (often seen in CFS listings)
Power Distrribution Boardis the PDB and is a board that is used on the multicopters to help distribute the power to each of the motors to provide proper stabilization of the unit.
RacebandA set of 5.8ghz frequencies commonly used in Drone racing when multiple pilots are flying.
RadioThis transmitter controls the drone’s movements such as pitch, yaw, and roll.
R/C or RC (Radio Controlled)Operating a drone via radio waves.
ReceiverIn FPV, this is what links the drone camera’s live stream to the goggles. Also called a “video receiver” (RX), “transmitter” (Tx) or “video transmitter” (VTX).
RegRegistered (as in registered Aerodrome)
(The) RoadmapA document released in 2013 by the FAA detailing safety guidelines for drone flight in national airspace.
RollMoving the drone side to side laterally.
RotorcraftA drone that generates lift through rotor blades instead of wings.
RPARemotely Piloted Aircraft
RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aerial/Aircraft System)A combination of a drone, pilot, and its command systems.
RPM (Revolutions Per Minute)The unit of measurement used to determine the number of times the drone’s motors turn in 1 minute.
RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator)The unit of measurement used to estimate the radio signal strength between a controller and a drone.
RTF (Ready-to-Fly)Great for beginners, this drone requires no (or minimal) assembly and can be flown right out of the box.
RTH (Return to Home)A setting that the drone operator can trigger on the remote control to tell the drone to automatically return to a set location if signal is lost or battery power is low.
RTK (Real-Time Kinetics)Satellite positioning technology that draws on GPS and GLONASS data to precisely pinpoint a drone’s location.
RudderAnother term for “yaw.” This is rotating the drone clockwise or counterclockwise.
Rx (Receiver)Component built-in to a drone that receives and interprets radio signals.
Sense and AvoidThe capability of a UAS to remain well clear from and avoid collisions with other airborne traffic. Sense and Avoid provides the functions of self-separation and collision avoidance.
ServoA shorter name for servomotor or servomechanism. Aerial vehicles use servomotors for various functions such as pan cameras and wing flaps adjustments which can be controlled from the ground.
SFOCSpecial Flight Operations Certificate
SkydioDrone manufacturer located in Redwood City, California. Compatible with Drone Deploy.
S Mode (Sport Mode)DJI drone setting that allows the pilot to fly at the fastest speed possible for that model.
Spatial AwarenessThe capability of a drone to be aware of its boundaries and positioning.
SpotterWhen flying in FPV, this person keeps the drone in their visual line of sight (VLOS).
sRPASmall Remotely Piloted Aircraft (between 250g and 25Kg)
TAFTerminal Aerodrome Forecast
TCTransport Canada
TCSTerminal Control Area (a controlled airspace)
TelemetryA two-way digital data stream that relays flight data and instructions between the UAV and ground station.
TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction)A temporary restriction of all flight that applies to a specific area due to the presence of government VIPs, natural disasters, special events, and other unusual occurrences.
ThrottleThis control gives the propellers and motor power.
ThrustThe amount of force driven by the throttle that generates lift.
TrimButtons on the controller used to control roll, pitch, yaw, and throttle.
TX (Transmitter)In FPV, this is what links the drone camera’s live stream to the goggles. Also called a “video transmitter” (VTX), “receiver” (RX), or “video receiver” (VRX).
UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System)An FAA term for unmanned aircraft, operated by a pilot on the ground. This includes drones. Also called an “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV).
UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)Unmanned aerial vehicle – (UAV) (or uncrewed aerial vehicle,commonly known as a drone) is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator or autonomously by onboard computers referred to as an autopilot.

Compared to crewed aircraft, UAVs were originally used for missions too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. While drones originated mostly in military applications, their use is rapidly finding many more applications including aerial photography, product deliveries, agriculture, policing and surveillance, infrastructure inspections, science, smuggling, and drone racing.
Ultrasonic sensorsOn a drone, these sensors calculate height and balance.
Upright LaunchThis is the ability of the drone to take off upright, as opposed to fixed wing aircraft. Also called “vertical takeoff” (VTOL).
Uncontrolled AirspaceTerm used by the FAA to indicate class F and G airspace, unregulated by air traffic control (ATC).
UNICOMUniversal Communications (radio frequency)
UTCCoordinated Universal Time (aka Greenwich Mean Time)
UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management)An air traffic management system under development by NASA, the FAA, and other government agencies that will traffic low altitude drone flights.
VFRVisual Flight Rules
Video LatencyThe lag in video streaming between a drone’s camera and pilot’s goggles or monitor.
VLOS (Visual Line of Sight)The operation of an UAV within the operator’s direct line of sight without the aid of any device other than corrective lenses.
VNCVFR Navigation Chart
VO (Visual Observer)An optional crew member whose job is to maintain visual contact with the UAV to ensure its safe operation.
VRXvideo receiver.
VTAVFR Terminal Chart
VTOL (Vertical Takeoff)This is the ability of the drone to take off upright, as opposed to fixed wing aircraft. Also called, “upright launch.”
VTXAbbreviation for video transmitter, connected to your camera and transmits the video signal from your drone back to you down on the ground in real time.
WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System)A satellite navigation system developed by the FAA that enhances GPS signals for better positioning accuracy.
WASWater Aerodrome Supplement (listings of waterbased aerodromes)
WaypointsHelpful in creating flight paths, these are GPS coordinates used to define a point in space.
Wi-Fi FPVThis type of FPV is common with more inexpensive drones. Typically, the pilot connects to a mobile app to receive the drone’s live stream.
X-WingRefers to the x design on a drone’s framework.
YawRotating the drone along its vertical access.
Zenmuse CameraDJI’s line of high-end cameras designed for enterprise/commercial grade work. These include DJI’s infrared(XT2), large sensor(X5S), and zoom cameras(Z30).
Zenmuse XT2DJI’s dual sensor infrared (thermal) and 4K gimbal camera available in different resolutions (336×256 or 640×512 pixels), different lens configurations (9mm,13mm,and 19mm), and different frame rates (9Hz or 30Hz). The DJI Zenmuse XT2 is compatible with the DJI Matrice 200, 210, and 600 Pro
Zenmuse XTDJI’s infrared (thermal) gimbal camera available in different resolutions (336×256 or 640×512 pixels), different lens configurations (7.5mm,9mm,13mm,and 19mm), different frame rates (9Hz or 30Hz), and different temperature reading options (performance or radiometric). The DJI Zenmuse XT is compatible with the DJI Matrice series and the DJI Inspire 1 series.
Zenmuse Z30 CameraDJI’s industrial grade 30x optical and 6x digital zoom camera ideal for inspection and public safety applications. The Z30 is compatible with the DJI Matrice series line of enterprise drone
ZULU (Z)Coordinated Universal Time (aka Greenwich Mean Time)

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