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Track Vs. Heading  
User currently offlineModesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2819 posts, RR: 5
Posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5378 times:

Before the advances of RNAV, it seems that air traffic controllers vectored aircraft with headings. However, the use of headings also involves wind corrections. Now that GPS (RNAV) has track information, should pilots refer to track instead of heading to "help" controllers eliminate the need for wind correction adjustments?

My understanding of a controller's radar screen is that controllers see an aircraft's track. So depending upon winds, a controller may have to give several "trys" to get the desired track. If RNAV-equipped flights refer to track instead of heading, would this help the controllers? Do controllers expect RNAV-equipped flights to use track despite the traditional phraseology (i.e. turn left heading 360)...instead of changing it to turn left track 360...?

So, what do controllers want pilots to do? If I using track instead of heading, would this adversely affect the controller's work because he/she is expecting me to use heading?

6 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineFlyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5373 times:

Always do headings unless otherwise told differently. Usually instructions even include the word heading... ie: "Turn left heading 070"

User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21875 posts, RR: 55
Reply 2, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 5343 times:

Quoting Modesto2 (Thread starter):
So, what do controllers want pilots to do? If I using track instead of heading, would this adversely affect the controller's work because he/she is expecting me to use heading?

Not every aircraft has GPS or RNAV. And if aircraft are using different methods (track vs. heading), it would certainly create problems. So headings remain in use. Good controllers can pick up on the wind, determine what it will do, and make adjustments accordingly.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineFLY2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 5332 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 2):
So headings remain in use. Good controllers can pick up on the wind, determine what it will do, and make adjustments accordingly.

That's when the 'ole E6B comes in handy Big grin

For vectors over short distances, I think compensating for (average) wind shouldn't be necessary, but If you are being vectored for one heading say for 30 or more miles, then winds would become a factor.

Or at least that's my guesstimation....  Wink


User currently offlineNudelhirsch From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 1438 posts, RR: 18
Reply 4, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5321 times:

Winds can vary from altitutde to altitude. It would be too much for the controller to compute the compensation angle for each airliner.


Putana da Seatbeltz!
User currently offlineBri2k1 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 988 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 5314 times:

The winds in a general area are going to affect all planes the same, too. There was a recent thread about this, where there might be a tailwind in the descent, switching to a headwind near the terminal area. The approach controller is going to see a bunch of planes in the descent racing along at a high groundspeed, then entering the Class B airspace and slowing to 200 knots, plus a headwind, resulting in a slow groundspeed. Instead of freaking out, the controller is going to realize that all the planes in the descent will be affected by the same headwind, and they're not going to overtake the planes in the terminal area.


Position and hold
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 6, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 5174 times:

Quoting Bri2k1 (Reply 5):
entering the Class B airspace and slowing to 200 knots

But don't confuse us here now.....the speed of 200KIAS is if you are operating below the floor of Class B airpsace not inside of Class B airspace.

Track is much preferred especially on a downwind flying the arrival into a large terminal area, thus why you see some STARS no with a waypoint on downwind for the RNAV airplanes to track to rather than fly the old heading.....and not necessarily an RNAV STAR either even though it is frowned upon at some offices in the world, it sure works. For example, there will be instructions for RNAV aircraft at the downwind turn point to fly direct to the waypoint while a conventional aircraft fly a heading on the chart, if the controller doesn't like that heading they will correct for wind. Few years ago you would hear creative controllers tell an RNAV airplane crew to depart XXXXX intersection on a ground track of whatever, boy that got some wild replies on the radio but sure was effective until the charts got changed to depict the desired track in all wind conditions. Great topic.



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
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