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Port & Starboard versus Left and Right

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Port & Starboard versus Left and Right

Old 5th Dec 2022, 03:07
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Port & Starboard versus Left and Right

In reading aviation safety reports, I have noticed it is common for the reports to refer to "left" or "right" when describing manoeuvres but also when describing the side of an aircraft on which damage occurred etc. For example, https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/...ts/AIR2210.pdf identified the "upper left" attachment bolt being missing in that accident. The problem when referring to "left" and "right" is that it assumes everyone consistently takes this to mean "left when looking forward" or "right when looking forward". The use of "port" and "starboard" is still common in the maritime world but doesn't appear to be so in aviation, even though I thought it previously was?
In searching about this topic on PPRuNe, I did find the thread "Clear Left(side)" for which Chris Scott had remarked (#15) on "Port" and "Starboard" having been used in the past for clarity.
Has there been a change in normal terminology and if so, why did "Port" and "Starboard" fall out of regular use?
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 04:54
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It gets worse, the left/port engine used to be number one. 😒
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 10:23
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Today's training is becoming generally more truncated - CBT at home instead of 'chalk and talk' in a classroom setting, for example. I would imagine that some instructors nowadays have forgotten - or never knew - why Port and Starboard are less ambiguous than Left and Right.

No time to check this, but I think 'Starboard' comes from the steering board, fitted on the right of ships, that was used before a central rudder became possible.

Any vessel's orientation is based on it travelling forwards, so not too much chance of confusion. ATC use 'left' and 'right', but of course, pilots seated at the front of an aircraft will be in the correct orientation for those instructions to be unambiguous.
If observing a vessel though, or in accident reports, as the OP points out; 'Port' and 'Starboard' is more precise.
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 15:35
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Hi Helispotter
Your question reminds me of one of my old navigation instructors who announced that he had always struggled with port and starboard. From an early stage of his childhood, his father had endlessly repeated "always remember son, port is right and starboard is left, knowing that saved my life on many occasions and one day it could save you, so remember son, port is right and starboard is left."

His father was a rear gunner on Lancasters.

Cheers
TeeS
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 16:23
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I used to fly in East Asia. One particular crew member (a winch operator) tended to say “Reft” and “Ligh”. So you could never anticipate what he was beginning to say.

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Old 5th Dec 2022, 19:21
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When flying for an Asian airline if a member of the cabin crew reported something as being on the left or right of the aircraft I used to ask 'is that Captains side or co-pilots side?' Helped remove the ambiguity.
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 19:55
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Red Right Return.

Apologies for nautical content.

- Ed
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 20:21
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Whats left

Originally Posted by cavuman1
Red Right Return.

Apologies for nautical content.

- Ed
There is no, RED PORT LEFT, in the bottle. QED.
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 21:16
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Nav lights - Red is where your thumb is on the right.
Could never remember the port- starboard.
Big proponent of Left and Right and this is obviously from the pilot position as we’re the center of the Universe.
Pretty much.
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 22:22
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On US ships, right and left are used for helm orders only. This avoids confusion when someone says, "what is that 20 degrees to starboard" followed by the helm responding "20 degrees starboard, aye." followed by the conn saying something nautical but not repeatable.

"The port goes down the throat" is how I was taught to find the throat and peak halyards on a gaff-rigged vessel. The throat halyard is attached to the end of the gaff by the mast, and is hauled on the port side.
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 22:26
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Left is port, as in "airPORT"; its the side where you and your passengers come up the gangplank.
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 23:27
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I learnt as a sailor that port was the side that traditional ships were designed to bring to dock. So I guess that the "steering board" would have been on the other side makes sense. Port has the same number of letters as left. I also learnt the port (wine) / red colour association for the lights. I understand that the channel markers are the other way around in the US, but either way it depends whether you are going upstream or downstream as to which you hold to your left.

I've only been a pilot for a couple of years but have never heard the use of port/starboard in an aviation context or textbook. I must admit I did wonder, but left/right seems to work OK. I haven't seen it mentioned in any of the old flying books I've read either, such as Stick and Rudder or Sagittarius Rising.

In sailing we called "Starboard" to announce our intent to exercise right of way due to the tack we were on. (Pissed off a couple of bigger and considerably more expensive boats a couple of times who were apparently working on the assumption that size and wealth were the deciding factor).
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 23:29
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My memory reminder:
Left, same number of letters as in Port and by default Red.
Right, same number of letters as in Green and by default, Starboard

I worked on military vehicle design - we tried Streetside and Curbside, but then the Brits made that unreliable for foreign military sales. Sigh.
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Old 5th Dec 2022, 23:43
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Originally Posted by helispotter
Has there been a change in normal terminology and if so, why did "Port" and "Starboard" fall out of regular use?
I've been a pilot for well over 40 years and have been involved in aircraft systems development for longer than that. I don't recall ever hearing any part of an aircraft, or any part of an aircraft system, being designated as port or starboard.
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Old 6th Dec 2022, 00:27
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Originally Posted by HOVIS
It gets worse, the left/port engine used to be number one. 😒
It still is as far as I know.
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Old 6th Dec 2022, 02:40
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Originally Posted by EXDAC
I've been a pilot for well over 40 years and have been involved in aircraft systems development for longer than that. I don't recall ever hearing any part of an aircraft, or any part of an aircraft system, being designated as port or starboard.

Agree, Port and Starboard are nautical references, not sure why a minority of people use them in aviation but they do
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Old 6th Dec 2022, 04:57
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It used to be Starboard and Larboard iirc.
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Old 6th Dec 2022, 05:30
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It originates from steuerbord and backbord when the ships direction was controlled by a steering oar on the side of the vessel ..the helmsman had his back to the other side..the vessels had to dock on the side that did not have the steering oar for obvious reasons and backbord became port…”wisdom from an old sailor!”
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Old 6th Dec 2022, 07:28
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Originally Posted by EXDAC
I've been a pilot for well over 40 years and have been involved in aircraft systems development for longer than that. I don't recall ever hearing any part of an aircraft, or any part of an aircraft system, being designated as port or starboard.
Then you never have been in a cockpit of the famous BN2. Look what it says on the starter switch on the overhead panel.

I am not allowed to post URLs, but google it up and you will see, what I mean ;-)
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Old 6th Dec 2022, 08:22
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During my RAF QHI course I was teamed up with a Royal Navy pilot.

When spot turning the helicopter I’d been trained to announce “TAIL GOING LEFT”, “TAIL GOING RIGHT” or “MOVING BACK” etc as required for the benefit of crew cooperation.

My RN colleague used to instead say stuff like “TURNING TO PORT”, “TURNING TO STARB’D” and “GOING ABAFT!”

I think he just did it to confuse me, but I did get used to it and sometimes imitated him with a pirate accent.
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