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Early Transatlantic Jet Navigation  
User currently offlineMarkBoston From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 74 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 9033 times:

I was reading an article on Pan Am's first 707 transatlantic flight (from New York to Paris) in 1958 and am wondering how these early jet flights navigated. Did they have inertial navigation systems?

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25311 posts, RR: 22
Reply 1, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 9019 times:

Inertial navigation systems didn't arrive until the late 1960s. Until then, all aircraft on longhaul routes had a navigator in the cockpit, and the aircraft had a port in the cockpit roof for a sextant.

[Edited 2009-08-10 13:19:15]

User currently offlineVC10 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1411 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 8998 times:

Viscount 724

I think you probably meant to say that Inertial came in during the late 1960s as the B747 came with INS fitted and by the early 1970s all of BOAC's aircraft were fitted with INS and the Navigators days were over.

Prior to INS the navigator would use a number of different means to navigate by one of which was the Loran system, however in many parts of the world he would have to go back to Astro navigation, as there were no other system available to him. On the VC-10 there was also the Doppler system to help him in that if I remember correctly it gave him the aircraft's drift and ground speed.

Littlevc10


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25311 posts, RR: 22
Reply 3, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 8924 times:



Quoting VC10 (Reply 2):
Viscount 724

I think you probably meant to say that Inertial came in during the late 1960s

Thanks. Yes I meant late 1960s. The airline I worked for (CP Air, later Canadian Airlines) was the first airline in Canada certified for use of INS (Delco Carousel IV) on longhaul flights. Reduced the number of crew in DC-8 cockpits by one. Must have been around 1969 or thereabouts.


User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6449 posts, RR: 54
Reply 4, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 8826 times:

When SAS introduced routes from Copenhagen to LA and Tokyo over the North Pole in the mid/late fifties they relied to a high degree on astro navigation. Just like the vikings a thousand years earlier.


Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineQantas744ER From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1286 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 8817 times:



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 3):
Thanks. Yes I meant late 1960s. The airline I worked for (CP Air, later Canadian Airlines) was the first airline in Canada certified for use of INS (Delco Carousel IV) on longhaul flights. Reduced the number of crew in DC-8 cockpits by one. Must have been around 1969 or thereabouts.

Pan Am was the first airline certified by the FAA to use the GM build INS in 69'. The last flight done for approval was LHR-SEA with a more northenly than usual route taking it right over the NPOLE.

Leo



Happiness is V1 in Lagos
User currently offlineMarkBoston From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 74 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8765 times:

How accurately could a skilled jet navigator plot position using astro navigation?

How does astro navigation work in daylight?


User currently offlineMoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2322 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 8767 times:



Quoting MarkBoston (Reply 6):
How accurately could a skilled jet navigator plot position using astro navigation?

How does astro navigation work in daylight?

I got to fly quite a bit using astro navigation in the KC-135 - most of our training flights consisted of a refueling mission followed by a navigation leg. This was in the mid-80s, and even though we had INS, DNS, TACAN, etc, we were practicing for what might happen if the horn went off and we were off to refuel a B-52 somewhere  Wink

The Boom Operator worked the sextant (and in the daytime, he would shoot the position of the sun) and the Navigator worked out our position and give course corrections to the pilots. The Nav was graded on most nav legs flown - the pilots would "score" the leg (which had to be a certain minimum distance and include at least one significant turn), taking TACAN fixes every few minutes, and would turn in the map at the end of the flight. I forget the exact tolerances, but he had to remain within a certain distance of the plotted course centerline (5 miles, maybe - it may have been less).

The sextant port (in the top of the fuselage near the rear of the cockpit) made an excellent launch tube for hard boiled eggs as well  Big grin



KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlineTimz From United States of America, joined exactly 15 years ago today! , 6835 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 8528 times:

I seem to recall reading Pan Am was doing their best to get away from cel nav even in their planning for the 1939 transatlantic flights. If you're down there at 5000 ft (or whatever B314s flew at) you would hate to be dependent on clear skies; probably most 1950s transatlantic airliners cruised... maybe 10000-12000 ft? So they wouldn't like to rely on a sextant either, if they had any alternative.

Aircraft sextants always used a bubble level, rather than measuring altitude above the visual horizon, like sailors do? And it was about impossible to keep the bubble centered, so their accuracy depended on some averaging device?


User currently onlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6383 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 8518 times:

When was Omega/VLF commissioned for civilian usage? I seem to recall that it was the gold standard for TATL navigation throughout the 1970's and 1980's...


Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offline411A From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1826 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (5 years 1 month 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 8486 times:



Quoting MarkBoston (Reply 6):
How accurately could a skilled jet navigator plot position using astro navigation?

How does astro navigation work in daylight?

After a 3300 NM flight in a 707, left/right 2nm...radar fix.

Sunshots....the above was done during daylight.


User currently offlineAmerican 767 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3791 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 7657 times:
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Quoting Timz (Reply 8):
probably most 1950s transatlantic airliners cruised... maybe 10000-12000 ft?

Weren't airliners already pressurized at that time? I know the DC-3 didn't have a pressurized cabin, not sure about the DC-4, but the DC-6B and L-1049 Constellation must have had a pressurized cabin. With a pressurized cabin, an airliner can be certified by the FAA to cruise above 14000ft MSL.

Ben Soriano



Ben Soriano
User currently offlineTimz From United States of America, joined exactly 15 years ago today! , 6835 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (5 years 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 7637 times:

Sure, DC-6s were certified to 20000 ft, and some or all DC-6Bs to 25000 ft. My uninformed guess is transatlantic flights spent most of their trips lower than that-- in any case, low enough they couldn't count on a view of the stars.

User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25311 posts, RR: 22
Reply 13, posted (5 years 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 7636 times:



Quoting American 767 (Reply 11):
Quoting Timz (Reply 8):
probably most 1950s transatlantic airliners cruised... maybe 10000-12000 ft?

Weren't airliners already pressurized at that time? I know the DC-3 didn't have a pressurized cabin, not sure about the DC-4, but the DC-6B and L-1049 Constellation must have had a pressurized cabin. With a pressurized cabin, an airliner can be certified by the FAA to cruise above 14000ft MSL.

In the very early 1950s there were still some unpressuried DC-4s operating transatlantic and other longhaul routes. Swissair used the DC-4 on their New York route until mid-1951 when their first pressurized DC-6Bs were delivered. By then, almost all transatlantic scheduled flights were using pressurized aircraft.

One exception was Icelandair's predecessor, Icelandic Airlihnes (Loftleidir), which was still using unpressurized DC-4s on their New York-Iceland-Europe routes as late as 1960, when most other transatlantic carriers were operating 707s and DC-8s. Icelandic "upgraded" from the DC-4 to DC-6B in late 1960. DC-4 photos at JFK (then IDL) below dated 1958 and 1959.


View Large View Medium
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Photo © John F. Ciesla
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Photo © Mel Lawrence



User currently offlineWoodreau From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1041 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (5 years 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 7137 times:



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 9):
When was Omega/VLF commissioned for civilian usage? I seem to recall that it was the gold standard for TATL navigation throughout the 1970's and 1980's...

According to wiki it started development in 1968 with IOC of 1971, decommissioned in 1997.


On another wiki page, there is something called DECCA, which was developed in WWII for the amphibious landings. It was primarily marine navigation system, but it was used in New York City, by an airline (New York Airways) in Manhattan in the 1950's. It did provide a "moving map" display in aircraft as early as 1949. There was an aviation version of DECCA in the mid-1950's that covered the North Atlantic called DECTRA, but I have no idea whether airlines actually used it or not.



Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 4007 posts, RR: 34
Reply 15, posted (5 years 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 7112 times:



Quoting Woodreau (Reply 14):
On another wiki page, there is something called DECCA,

The DECCA Navigator was widely used in Europe by aircraft and ships.
DECCA was the company that built it in the UK.
This system drove the moving map display on the dh Trident in the 1960s. It was dependent on a chain of radio transmitters. There was a chain in western Europe, and down the eastern coast of the USA.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17039 posts, RR: 66
Reply 16, posted (5 years 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 7102 times:

What was the moving map like? Was it a sheet of paper/film or something, or an actual cathode ray tube?


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 4007 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (5 years 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 7090 times:

The original ones in the Viscount were paper. But the Trident maps were a transparent film so it could be back lit. The paper was on a cassette and rolled up and down. The pointer moved left to right. When the pointer got to the edge of the map, there was a lot of whirring as the machine found the next map.
All BEA aircraft from the Viscount, Trident and BAC111 had a Decca moving map. It was quite large and in the centre of the panel between the pilots.
I am surprised that when the B737-200 was introduced around 1981, it replaced these aircraft, but had no area nav facility. No FMS, no GPS no nothing.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17039 posts, RR: 66
Reply 18, posted (5 years 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 7050 times:

That sounds awesome! To quote MEL: "Any pictures?"

Perhaps the 737 came into being in an era with more navigational aids. In any case the 737 Jurassic was very much a short range aircraft, perhaps reducing the need for sophisticated aids. And it entered service in 1968, not 1982.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 4007 posts, RR: 34
Reply 19, posted (5 years 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 7019 times:

I meant when the B732 replaced the Trident in British Airways in 1982.

Picture of the map dominating the Trident flight deck

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TridentFlightDeck.JPG


User currently offlineAverageuser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (5 years 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 7009 times:



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 3):
he airline I worked for (CP Air, later Canadian Airlines) was the first airline in Canada certified for use of INS (Delco Carousel IV) on longhaul flights. Reduced the number of crew in DC-8 cockpits by one. Must have been around 1969 or thereabouts.

My John Wegg book says the first transatlantic (North) revenue flight using INS (Carousel IV likewise) only was a Finnair DC-8 on 21 October 1969.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17039 posts, RR: 66
Reply 21, posted (5 years 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 6999 times:



Quoting TristarSteve (Reply 19):

Picture of the map dominating the Trident flight deck

That is awesome!



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineRheinwaldner From Switzerland, joined Jan 2008, 2225 posts, RR: 5
Reply 22, posted (5 years 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 6956 times:



Quoting 411A (Reply 10):
After a 3300 NM flight in a 707, left/right 2nm...radar fix.

Each fix has an absolute accuracy. The accuracy does not degrade with increasing flight length.

I found some common info:

About sextant hardware: http://www.users.bigpond.com/bgrobler/sextant/sextant.html
About Flight-Simulator simulation: http://www.swiremariners.com/sextant/index.html
More pictures: http://www.prc68.com/I/S5807.shtml

And I found THE ultimate info:

The USAF and US NAVY AFM 51-40 manual. I studied this document several years ago, but I forgot where it is on the internet (I once wanted to program a similar simulation-sextant-gauge for the Microsoft Flight-Simulator like from the above link. However I didn't find the time to do it). Today I found that manual again. It contains more than a whopping 100 pages about astro navigation with pictures for everything:
http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data...torage_01/0000019b/80/37/83/d8.pdf

B.T.W. this documents costs 129 $ here http://global.ihs.com/search_res.cfm...=W097&input_doc_number=AFM%2051-40

Other "old" navigation techniques are described too.


User currently offlineWoodreau From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1041 posts, RR: 6
Reply 23, posted (5 years 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6934 times:



Quoting Rheinwaldner (Reply 22):
The USAF and US NAVY AFM 51-40 manual. I studied this document several years ago, but I forgot where it is on the internet (I once wanted to program a similar simulation-sextant-gauge for the Microsoft Flight-Simulator like from the above link. However I didn't find the time to do it). Today I found that manual again. It contains more than a whopping 100 pages about astro navigation with pictures for everything:
http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data...8.pdf

Thanks for the link. I skimmed it real quick, and I noticed that a lot of the techniques are the same used for maritime navigation, setting up the DR plot and obtain LOPs, as well as the radar navigation.

I find it interesting that today when we obtain celestial fixes aboard ships, we're using the the celestial navigation practices that were developed for aircraft rather than going through the nautical almanac. -if it is even done at all - it's all too easy today to put the star shots into the computer and have the computer derive ownship lat/long or the celestial LOP from the data obtained from the starshots for plotting on the chart.



Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
User currently offlineKalvado From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 491 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (4 years 12 months 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 6643 times:

A sad story of a late 40s transatlantic flight:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G-AHNP_%22Star_Tiger%22
While full chain of events is not known, navigation sounds as being one of weaker links..


User currently offlineOV735 From Estonia, joined Jan 2004, 913 posts, RR: 3
Reply 25, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 6080 times:

In Soviet medium- and long-range aircraft, like the Il-18, Tu-104 and Tu-114, a Doppler radar based navigation system (DISS) was used, which provided a reasonably accurate performance. Later on, the Il-62, Tu-134 and Tu-154 all also used the same system.

Naturally some drift error occurred over longer distances, and thus a VOR or a RSBN (the Soviet more complex and advanced analogue of VOR) station was needed for corrections every one in a while.


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