Letter N - Aviation Glossary of Terms, Acronyms & Definitions | Aircraft Systems

Letter N - Aviation Glossary of Terms, Acronyms & Definitions

N1. A symbol representing the rotational speed of the low-pressure compressor in a dual-spool gas turbine engine.

N2. A symbol representing the rotational speed of the high-pressure compressor in a dual-spool gas turbine engine.

NACA cowling. A long-chord cowling used over a radial engine. The forward portion of this cowling has an aerodynamic shape that produces a forward pull, and the rear portion extends back to fair in with the fuselage. There is a narrow peripheral gap between the rear of the cowling and the fuselage for the cooling air to escape. Some NACA cowlings have controllable flaps over this opening to control the amount of cooling air that flows through the engine.

NACA. National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. This organization, dedicated to the technical development of aviation, has been superseded by NASA.

Nacelle. An enclosed compartment, normally in the leading edge of the wing, in which an aircraft engine is mounted.

Nailing strip. A method of applying pressure to the glue in a scarf joint repair in a plywood skin. A strip of thin plywood is nailed over the glued scarf joint with the nails extending into a supporting structure beneath the skin. The strip is installed over vinyl sheeting to prevent it sticking to the skin. When the glue is thoroughly dry, the nailing strip is broken away and the nails removed.

Nap of the fabric. The ends of the fibers in a fabric. The first coat of dope on cotton or linen fabric raises the nap, and the fiber ends stick up. These ends must be carefully removed by sanding to get a smooth finish.


Naphtha. A volatile and flammable hydrocarbon liquid used chiefly as a solvent or as a cleaning fluid.

NASA. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Naturally aspirated engine. A reciprocating engine that depends upon atmospheric pressure to force the fuel-air mixture into the cylinders. Naturally aspirated engines are neither supercharged nor turbocharged.

NDB. Non-directional beacons.

Negative pressure relief valve (pressurization component). A valve that opens anytime the outside air pressure is greater than the cabin pressure. It prevents the cabin altitude from ever becoming greater than the aircraft flight altitude.

Net thrust. The thrust produced by a turbojet or turbofan engine in which the acceleration factor is the difference between the velocity of the incoming air and the velocity of the exhaust gases leaving the engine.

Neutral axis (neutral plane). A line through a piece of material that is bent. The material in the outside of the bend is stretched and that on the inside of the bend is shrunk. The material along the neutral plane is neither shrunk nor stretched.

Neutral flame. An oxyacetylene flame produced when the ratio of oxygen and acetylene is chemically correct and there is no excess of oxygen or carbon. A neutral flame has a rounded inner cone and no feather around it.

Neutral position. The position of the magnet in a magneto when its poles are between the pole shoes and no lines of flux are flowing through the magnetic circuit.

Newton. The unit of force needed to accelerate a mass of one kilogram one meter per second per second. One newton is equal to 1000,000 dynes, or 2.248 × 10-1 pound.

Nichrome. The registered trade name for an alloy of nickel and chromium. Nichrome wire is used for making electrical heater elements and precision wire-wound resistors. Nichrome’s resistance is approximately 65 times that of copper.

Nitriding. A method of case hardening steel. Steel is placed in a retort (a sealed, high-temperature furnace), and heated to a specified temperature while surrounded by ammonia gas (NH3). The ammonia breaks down into nitrogen and hydrogen, and the nitrogen unites with some of the alloying elements in the steel to form an extremely hard surface. Nitriding hardens crankshaft bearing surfaces and cylinder walls in reciprocating engines. It takes place at a lower temperature than other forms of case hardening, and does not cause warping.


Noise (electrical). An unwanted electrical signal within a piece of electronic equipment.

Nomex. A patented nylon material used to make the honeycomb core for certain types of sandwich materials.

Nonenergizing brake. A brake that does not use the momentum of the aircraft to increase the friction.

Nonvolatile memory. Memory in a computer that is not lost when power to the computer is lost.

Normal category airplane. An aircraft that is certificated under 14 CFR part 23 that is not certificated under the acrobatic, utility, or commuter category.

Normal heptane. A hydrocarbon, C7H16, with a very low critical pressure and temperature. Normal heptane is used as the low reference in measuring the anti-detonation characteristics of a fuel.

Normal shock wave. A type of pressure wave that forms at right angles to a surface when air moves at the speed of sound.

Normalizing. A process of strain-relieving steel that has been welded and left in a strained condition. The steel is heated to a specified temperature, usually red hot, and allowed to cool in still air to room temperature.

Nose-gear centering cam. A cam in the nose-gear shock strut that causes the piston to center when the strut fully extends. When the aircraft takes off and the strut extends, the wheel is straightened in its fore-and-aft position so it can be retracted into the wheel well.

Notch sensitivity. A measure of the loss of strength of a material caused by the presence of a notch, or a V-shaped cut.

Nozzle guide vanes. See turbine inlet guide vanes.


NPN transistor. A bipolar transistor made of a thin base of P-type silicon or geranium sandwiched between a collector and an emitter, both of which are made of N-type material.

Null position. The position of an ADF loop antenna when the signal being received is canceled in the two sides of the loop and the signal strength is the weakest.