Clear the A-pillar?
January 23, 2009 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Is the phrase "clear the A-pillar" commonly used by pilots and truckers?

This phrase came up in a conversation the other day, along with the claim that it's fairly commonly used by pilots and truckers. The phrase meaning, as I understand it, to look around and make sure that the A-pillar isn't blocking traffic or other danger from one's line of sight.

I did a google search for that exact phrase, and found only a few hits mostly to do with car modification and construction.

Anyone know if this is indeed a common phrase? I'd be especially interested in people who are pilots or truckers or frequently work with them.
posted by aerotive to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
Not a common pilot phrase (that I've heard). Usually you just stick to "CLEAR!!" which is taken to mean that the prop is about to start spinning at 1000 RPM and you don't want to be near it.

No idea about the trucking reference but it would make more sense in that context.
posted by meinvt at 7:50 PM on January 23, 2009

Yeah, I've never heard it before. 7 years as a pilot, 3+ years working at the airport, 3 years working in industry.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:21 PM on January 23, 2009

My parents both worked for Mack Trucks and I grew up around trucking. I've never heard it.
posted by 26.2 at 9:23 PM on January 23, 2009

My father-in-law and husband have both driven trucks part-time. My father-in-law did local routes and my husband did long-haul, and neither of them have ever heard of that phrase.
posted by amyms at 10:24 PM on January 23, 2009

Do you know what the A-pillar is? If not, it's a vertical-ish structural part on the sides of the windshield.
posted by rhizome at 10:37 PM on January 23, 2009

It's almost always an automotive term from vehicle design vernacular - A pillar (windscreen support and front of the roof), B pillar (between the front and rear doors), C pillar (after the rear doors). I've never heard of it used in an aeronautical context, but it is possible that it has transferred. However, I've never once heard it used in any context as you describe - in trucking or in planes.
posted by Brockles at 7:42 AM on January 25, 2009

Brockles is correct.

I suspect the usage you heard (...look around and make sure that the A-pillar isn't blocking traffic ...) was from someone actually referring to the C-pillar, but was merely repeating a term they had heard (in reference to the roof supports) and was unaware that the other supports had their own names (B-pillar, C-pillar) In other words, they probably assumed that all roof supports are A-pillars.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:50 AM on January 25, 2009

I can't speak for common usage, but as a practical matter I always make sure to move my head a little to the side when in dense traffic or populations. In my car the A-pillar is fairly wide and can block my view of another vehicle or pedestrian. I learned this after a couple of close calls with pedestrians.

So the phrase makes sense, even if I've never heard it before.
posted by schrodycat at 9:27 AM on January 25, 2009

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