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Are there any aeronautical terms for left and right sides of a plane, essentially equivalent to their nautical counterpart terms of port and starboard for the respective left and right sides of a seaworthy vessel?

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closed as general reference by Matt E. Эллен, Hugo, simchona, kiamlaluno, waiwai933 Nov 15 '11 at 5:15

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Sorry, purefusion, I've just realised that because the definition of each word is in a reputable online resource (see my answer) that makes this question general reference. Please see the FAQ for more details: Where can I find answers to basic and simple questions? and Why are some questions closed? – Matt E. Эллен Nov 8 '11 at 10:08
Thanks for clearing this up. I'd never heard anyone use the terms outside of nautical references, but I did look up the Wikipedia reference for port and starboard before posting this, and somehow I totally missed the word aircraft—it's right there! Either I'm blind, or I was simply distracted by all the images of cruise ships on the page! :) – purefusion Nov 8 '11 at 12:10
No worries. Glad I could help. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 8 '11 at 13:32
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Port and starboard are used in aeronautical contexts as well as plain old nautical ones.

See these definitions:


noun — the right-hand side of or direction from a vessel or aircraft, facing forward.


noun — the left-hand side of a vessel or aircraft, facing forward.

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Ah, I guess I missed that. I don't recall having ever heard anyone use either term in reference to aircraft. Thanks for clearing this up! :) – purefusion Nov 8 '11 at 12:02

I know nothing of aviation beyond the experience of a passenger, but I would assume the terms port and starboard are used in the air as on the sea. I'm prepared to be corrected by any aviators present.


The OED confirms both Dictionary.com and my intuition. Definition A of the noun port is

The left side of a ship or aircraft, looking forward

Definition A of starboard is:

The right-hand side of a ship . . . Also used with reference to aircraft

My emphasis in both.

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Also confirmed here – Unreason Nov 8 '11 at 10:46

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