phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Souls on board

Posted by R. Berg on August 16, 2007

In Reply to: Souls on board posted by Probe on August 16, 2007

: : : "Souls on board" is the common term used by pilots and air traffic controllers to identify the people on board an aircraft. In response to the previous question, it does not have any "dark" implications. For example the pilot might say "I have 10 souls on board" meaning that 10 people are on board the aircraft. As a pilot it is a commonly heard term on the radio.

: : The air transport community derived this from seafaring usage; "X souls on board" was a nautical phrase long before powered flight. I think the point is that ships required a term that comprehensively covered everyone who could possibly be on board, in whatever capacity: the officers, the crew, the crew's families, the supercargo, the passengers, the local pilot, native bumboatwomen, etc. etc. (VSD)

: Is this in use in transport sector only or, for example, "There remain 10 souls only in the village"?

: Thank you.

"Souls" can be used, and will be understood, outside transport. Your "village" example is fine. Using "soul" to mean "person," however, makes writing seem a bit dramatic, as opposed to straightforward. "Not a soul" is fairly common, meaning "no one." "When the club president asked for volunteers, not a soul spoke up." ~rb