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

Letter V - Aviation Glossary of Terms, Acronyms & Definitions

Vapor lock. A condition in which vapors form in the fuel lines and block the flow of fuel to the carburetor.

Vapor pressure. The pressure of the vapor above a liquid needed to prevent the liquid evaporating. Vapor pressure is always specified at a specific temperature.

Variable displacement pump. A fluid pump whose output is controlled by the demands of the system. These pumps normally have a built-in system pressure regulator. When the demands of the system are low, the pump moves very little fluid, but when the demands are high, the pump moves a lot of fluid. Most variable displacement pumps used in aircraft hydraulic systems are piston-type pumps.

Varnish (aircraft finishing material). A material used to produce an attractive and protective coating on wood or metal. Varnish is made of a resin dissolved in a solvent and thinned until it has the proper viscosity to spray or brush. The varnish is spread evenly over the surface to be coated, and when the solvents evaporate, a tough film is left.

Varsol. A petroleum product similar to naphtha used as a solvent and cleaning fluid.

Veneer. Thin sheets of wood “peeled” from a log. A wide-blade knife held against the surface of the log peels away the veneer as the log is rotated in the cutter. Veneer is used for making plywood. Several sheets of veneer are glued together, with the grain of each sheet placed at 45° or 90° to the grain of the sheets next to it.

Vertical axis. An imaginary line, passing vertically through the center of gravity of an airplane.


Vertical fin. The fixed vertical surface in the empennage of an airplane. The vertical fin acts as a weathervane to give the airplane directional stability.

VFR. Visual flight rules.

VHF. Very high frequency.

Vibrator-type voltage regulator. A type of voltage regulator used with a generator or alternator that intermittently places a resistance in the field circuit to control the voltage. A set of vibrating contacts puts the resistor in the circuit and takes it out several times a second.

Viscosity. The resistance of a fluid to flow. Viscosity refers to the “stiffness” of the fluid, or its internal friction.

Viscosity cup. A specially shaped cup with an accurately sized hole in its bottom. The cup is submerged in the liquid to completely fill it. It is then lifted from the liquid and the time in seconds is measured from the beginning of the flow through the hole until the first break in this flow. The viscosity of the liquid relates to this time.

Vixen file. A metal-cutting hand file that has curved teeth across its faces. Vixen files are used to remove large amounts of soft metal.

VNENever-exceed speed. The maximum speed the aircraft is allowed to attain in any conditions of flight.

Volatile liquid. A liquid that easily changes into a vapor.

Voltmeter multiplier. A precision resistor in series with a voltmeter mechanism used to extend the range of the basic meter or to allow a single meter to measure several ranges of voltage.

VOR. Very high frequency Omni Range navigation.

VORTAC. An electronic navigation system that contains both a VOR and a TACAN facility.

Vortex (plural vortices). A whirling motion in a fluid.

Vortex generator. Small, low-aspect-ratio airfoils installed in pairs on the upper surface of a wing, on both sides of the vertical fin just ahead of the rudder, and on the underside of the vertical stabilizers of some airplanes. Their function is to pull high-energy air down to the surface to energize the boundary layer and prevent airflow separation until the surface reaches a higher angle of attack.

V-blocks. A fixture that allows a shaft to be centered and rotated to measure any out-of-round condition.

Valence electrons. Electrons in the outer shell, or ring, around the nucleus of an atom. It is the valence electrons that give an atom its electrical characteristics and are the electrons that may be pulled loose from an atom to cause electrical current.

Valve overlap. The portion of the operating cycle of a four-stroke-cycle reciprocating engine during which both the intake and exhaust valves are off of their seats at the same time.

Vapor lock. A condition of fuel starvation that can occur in a reciprocating engine fuel system. If the fuel in the line between the tank and carburetor is heated enough for the fuel to vaporize, a bubble will form in the line. If the vapor pressure of the bubble is high enough, it will block the fuel and keep it from flowing to the engine.


Vapor pressure. The amount of pressure needed above a liquid to prevent it from evaporating.

Vaporize. The changing of a liquid into a vapor.

Vectored-thrust engine. A turbojet or turbofan engine with the fan and/or exhaust nozzles mounted in such a way that they may be rotated in flight to produce forward, vertically upward, or rearward thrust.

Velocity turbine. A turbine driven by forces produced by the velocity, rather than the pressure, of gases flowing through the vanes.

Velocity. A vector quantity that expresses both the speed an object is moving and the direction in which it is moving.

V-engine. A form of reciprocating engine in which the cylinders are arranged in two banks. The banks are separated by an angle of between 45º and 90º. Pistons in two cylinders, one in each bank, are connected to each throw of the crankshaft.

Venture. A specially shaped restrictor in a tube designed to speed up the flow of fluid passing through it. According to Bernoulli’s principal, any time the flow of fluid speeds up without losing or gaining any energy from the outside, the pressure of the fluid decreases.

Vernier coupling. A timing coupling used with base-mounted magnetos. The vernier coupling allows the timing to be adjusted in increments of considerably less than one degree.

Vertical tape instrument. A tall rectangular instrument that displays the quantity of the parameter being measured by a movable strip of colored tape. The presentation resembles a vertical bar graph.

Vibration loop. A loop in a rigid fluid line used to prevent vibration from concentrating stresses that could cause the line to break.

VIFF. Vectoring in forward flight. A method of enhancing the maneuverability of an airplane by vectoring the exhaust gases and/or fan-discharge air to produce thrust components not parallel to the longitudinal axis of the aircraft.

Viscosimeter. An instrument used to measure the viscosity of a liquid. The time required for a given volume of liquid at a specified temperature to flow through a calibrated orifice is used to indicate the viscosity of the liquid.

Viscosity index (VI). A measure of change in viscosity of an oil as it changes temperature. The higher the viscosity index, the less the viscosity changes.

Viscosity index improver. An additive used to produce a multi-viscosity lubricating oil. The polymer additive expands as temperature increases and contracts as temperature decreases. VI improvers cause viscosity to increase as oil heats and decrease as it cools.

Viscosity. The resistance of a fluid to flow. Viscosity is the stiffness of the fluid, or its internal friction.

Volatile memory. Computer memory that is lost when the power to the computer is turned off.

Volatility. The characteristic of a liquid that relates to its ability to vaporize or change into a gas.

Volumetric efficiency. The ratio of the volume of the charge of the fuel and air inside the cylinder of a reciprocating engine to the total physical volume of the cylinder.

Von Ohain, Dr. Hans Pabst. The designer and developer of the first turbojet engine to power an airplane. His HeS3b engine was built in Germany by the Heinkel Company and it flew in a Heinkel He178 airplane on August 27, 1939.


Vortex dissipater. A high-velocity stream of compressor bleed air blown from a nozzle into an area where vortices are likely to form. Vortex dissipaters destroy the vortices that would otherwise suck debris from the ground into engines mounted in pods that are low to the ground.

Vortex. A whirling mass of air that sucks everything near it toward its center.

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