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NDB/ADF Use In Commercial Aviation  
User currently offlinejetblueguy22 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 2649 posts, RR: 4
Posted (5 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3516 times:
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I'm preparing for an exam on Navaids and we have been doing a lot of work with ADF/NDB and through all my flight training I can't think of a single time where they were used. Plenty of GPS and VOR stuff, but nothing but tuning into radio stations with the ADF on long cross countries. Are NDB's commonly used in Commercial Aviation or are they a thing of the past?
Pat


You push down on that yoke, the houses get bigger, you pull back on the yoke, the houses get bigger- Ken Foltz
28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLimaFoxTango From Antigua and Barbuda, joined Jun 2004, 771 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (5 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3491 times:

Outside the US, their use is still quite common, though slowly being replaced by RNAV approaches. Before someone says they're only in "3rd world" countries, they're still found in many "1st world" countries such as Canada and Europe. NDB's are still commonly used as ILS LOM's. Not used much for enroute navigation although some airways are defined by NDB's. Although not commonly used today, they're not quite "a thing of the past",


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User currently offlinetb727 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1548 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (5 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3419 times:

It's how we keep up on the latest sports, through AM radio! We were talking about them a couple weeks ago as we were flying along, it's been a long time since I have shot a real life NDB approach. We do them in the sim just to dust our brains off on doing them. Normally they are just tuned in for LOM's on ILS approaches when required, that's about it. The only one I've used enroute is the Carolina Beach NDB coming up the coast from FL on an AR route. It's a strong beacon!


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User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2238 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (5 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 3357 times:
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I believe NDBs are still heavily used in Alaska.

User currently offlinezeke From Hong Kong, joined Dec 2006, 8643 posts, RR: 75
Reply 4, posted (5 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 3333 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Thread starter):

NDBs are a "cheap" navaid to install and maintain. They are still used at a lot of airports, however airports with high frequency, and multiple runways tend not to have them these days as the approach uses up a lot of airspace as it is less accurate.

A lot of the aircraft we get delivered today do not have ADFs installed, and we are prohibited from doing NDBs under our SOPs.



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User currently offlinejetblueguy22 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 2649 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (5 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3185 times:
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Quoting LimaFoxTango (Reply 1):
Before someone says they're only in "3rd world" countries, they're still found in many "1st world" countries such as Canada and Europe.

My university trains a lot of pilots for the Chinese airlines and I know they do a lot of NDB training as apparently they are still pretty common in China. Hardly a third world country!

Quoting tb727 (Reply 2):
It's how we keep up on the latest sports, through AM radio!

Isn't that the truth! When I was getting ready for my private pilot check ride I was doing a flight with a different CFI to get a different perspective. He told me to simulate an engine fire to an emergency decent. Started my turn and all of a sudden I hear "Sweet Child O Mine" by Guns N Roses. I don't think I've laughed that hard in an airplane. Was my best work though!

Quoting tb727 (Reply 2):
We do them in the sim just to dust our brains off on doing them.

My professor said when he was getting his type rating in the Hawker he sat in the right seat and the guy in the left seat did the approach and the examiner looked at my prof and said "You see what he did? Good" and they moved onto the next thing! I thought it was pretty funny.

Quoting zeke (Reply 4):
A lot of the aircraft we get delivered today do not have ADFs installed, and we are prohibited from doing NDBs under our SOPs.

Do you know of any airlines that do allow NDB approaches? I would think with how common VORs and ILS's are that they wouldn't be widely accepted by many airlines.

Thanks for the responses everybody. Always great to hear from people who have real world experience with this type of stuff!
Pat



You push down on that yoke, the houses get bigger, you pull back on the yoke, the houses get bigger- Ken Foltz
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6265 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (5 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3155 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Thread starter):
I'm preparing for an exam on Navaids and we have been doing a lot of work with ADF/NDB and through all my flight training I can't think of a single time where they were used.

Your instrument instructor never made you do a left hand hold at an NDB while partial panel? In an aircraft with a simple NDB needle? Then you haven't FLOWN, my friend  (and had the sweatiest few minutes of your life!).



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 7, posted (5 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3146 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 5):
China. Hardly a third world country!

Actually the PRC is still third world in many ways. While the news often shows the country as a whole lot of new and shiny cities of glass, much of it is still very much developing. For example, around 40% of the population lived on less than US$2.5 per day in 2008.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2757 posts, RR: 45
Reply 8, posted (5 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3139 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 5):
Do you know of any airlines that do allow NDB approaches?

I don't discuss my place of employment here, but suffice it to say that NDB approaches are still taught, flown, and checked at at least one major airline; I have personally flown one this year. Would I like them to be gone? Yes. Are they still legal approaches? As long as they are still on your Ops Specs, yes. Many aircraft still fly without GPS, including some modern EFIS aircraft.


User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7345 posts, RR: 32
Reply 9, posted (5 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3124 times:

Many of the Pacific islands on the only Air Mike routes had only an NDB for a local NAVAID. While I'm sure that GPS is now used for the island to island flying - I would think the new United/Continental has to have some planes with NDB and pilots trained on NDB approaches.

User currently offlinewilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 8906 posts, RR: 76
Reply 10, posted (5 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3053 times:
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Quoting jetblueguy22 (Thread starter):
Are NDB's commonly used in Commercial Aviation or are they a thing of the past?

There are still many NDB's out there and some NDB approaches. But introducing a GPS (RNAV) approach is easy to build at most airports, so the NDB is getting redundant.

The Boeing 747-8i doesn't have an ADF anymore, so no more NDB approaches for me on the 747-8i. But we prefer GPS (RNAV) approaches anyway.

wilco737
  



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21103 posts, RR: 56
Reply 11, posted (5 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3042 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 6):
Your instrument instructor never made you do a left hand hold at an NDB while partial panel? In an aircraft with a simple NDB needle?

The only real way to do an NDB approach is partial panel - it stops you overcorrecting.   

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlinefrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3613 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (5 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2986 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 6):
(and had the sweatiest few minutes of your life!).

Found memories of flight school...

Which was just about the last time I seriously used NDBs.

There was that NDB approach that we routinely flew at my first airline but we just used the GPS and crosschecked with the instrument, which is how I realized how impossibly unprecise an NDB approach is...

Historically, Russia has always been a heavy NDB user. It was just about the only way to put navigation beacons in the middle of these vast expanses of nothing and at the remote airports that connected them.
Until fairly recently, the ADF was the most prominent navigation instrument on any Russian or Soviet built aircraft.



Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlinewoodreau From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 978 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (5 months 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2946 times:

You'll find that airlines that fly aircraft without an FMS or GPS onboard will most likely still have the requirement to demonstrate an NDB approach on their checkrides.

That is becoming rarer and rarer these days though. In the US it will most likely be turboprop equipment that might not have an FMS or GPS. You can fly without the FMS/GPS. You'd typically carry a handheld GPS punch in direct, see what course you need and then ask ATC "Request (insert course from handheld GPS) heading, direct destination". 99% of the time it was approved. Tune in an onfield DME or NDB and get there.

At my first airline (mid to late 2000's), we had one airport where the only way in if it was IMC was the NDB-F approach. We had 250hr new hires with wet ink on their commercial multi instruments that didn't or couldn't or weren't taught to fly NDB approaches saying "they (Embry-Riddle / ATP Flight School / insert favorite aviation college) said we'd never see NDBs at an airline".



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User currently offlineLHRjc From Netherlands, joined Apr 2006, 1964 posts, RR: 20
Reply 14, posted (5 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 2858 times:

Quoting LimaFoxTango (Reply 1):
Before someone says they're only in "3rd world" countries, they're still found in many "1st world" countries such as Canada and Europe.

We still go to loads of places where there are NDB approaches. Not all as the primary instrument approach but plenty where they are still published and where we do sometimes have to do them. BHX, LTN, LBA, EMA for example in the UK all have NDB approaches and I suppose it just about counts as 1st world  



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User currently offlinejetblueguy22 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 2649 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (5 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 2854 times:
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Quoting wilco737 (Reply 10):
The Boeing 747-8i doesn't have an ADF anymore, so no more NDB approaches for me on the 747-8i. But we prefer GPS (RNAV) approaches anyway.

Interesting to hear the 748 doesn't have an ADF. Though I suppose 99.9% of flights are going into larger airports with ILS.

Quoting francoflier (Reply 12):
Historically, Russia has always been a heavy NDB user. It was just about the only way to put navigation beacons in the middle of these vast expanses of nothing and at the remote airports that connected them.

Besides cost what makes an NDB easier to put in than a VOR? Just upkeep?

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 6):
Your instrument instructor never made you do a left hand hold at an NDB while partial panel? In an aircraft with a simple NDB needle? Then you haven't FLOWN, my friend  (and had the sweatiest few minutes of your life!).

Well I haven't actually gotten to the instrument flying portion. It's more just making sure you can fly using VOR, GPS, ILS, standard rate turns etc. Next course is actual instrument flying. Though my buddy who has already completed the course says he never even used the NDB.

Quoting woodreau (Reply 13):
At my first airline (mid to late 2000's), we had one airport where the only way in if it was IMC was the NDB-F approach. We had 250hr new hires with wet ink on their commercial multi instruments that didn't or couldn't or weren't taught to fly NDB approaches saying "they (Embry-Riddle / ATP Flight School / insert favorite aviation college) said we'd never see NDBs at an airline".

This is kind of what I'm afraid will end up happening. Never dealing with an NDB and get to an airline and end up having to use one.
Pat



You push down on that yoke, the houses get bigger, you pull back on the yoke, the houses get bigger- Ken Foltz
User currently offlineapodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4124 posts, RR: 6
Reply 16, posted (5 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 2795 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Thread starter):
I'm preparing for an exam on Navaids and we have been doing a lot of work with ADF/NDB and through all my flight training I can't think of a single time where they were used. Plenty of GPS and VOR stuff, but nothing but tuning into radio stations with the ADF on long cross countries. Are NDB's commonly used in Commercial Aviation or are they a thing of the past?
Pat

ZW still uses NDB approaches quite a bit in YQB as not all of their crews are trained on GPS approaches yet.

DL has deactivated the ADF's on their 738's, and B6 has deactivated the ADF's on their airbus fleet.


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6265 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (5 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2743 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 15):
Well I haven't actually gotten to the instrument flying portion. It's more just making sure you can fly using VOR, GPS, ILS, standard rate turns etc. Next course is actual instrument flying. Though my buddy who has already completed the course says he never even used the NDB.

My instructor sure made me use it. He had some made up approaches that we shot off of an AM broadcast station. We also had an ILS at a little-used airport nearby, with a LOM (Locator Outer Marker) and an overlay NDB approach to boot. I actually had to hold at that NDB (the LOM at the little used airport) in actual IMC on my instrument checkride   We were #2 for the approach...



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlinefrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3613 posts, RR: 11
Reply 18, posted (5 months 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2721 times:

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 15):
Besides cost what makes an NDB easier to put in than a VOR? Just upkeep?

Not sure of the technical details, so someone might correct me, but an NDB is not much more than a simple radio emitter like the one on top of radio broadcasting stations. In any case, it is much simpler than a VOR and consumes less power.
Their reception range is also greater than that of a VOR, which would help in remote areas.



Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlinewilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 8906 posts, RR: 76
Reply 19, posted (5 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 2693 times:
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Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 15):
Interesting to hear the 748 doesn't have an ADF. Though I suppose 99.9% of flights are going into larger airports with ILS.

We still train NDB approaches in the simulator, but in real life I haven't flown one in years. Usually it is ILS. If no ILS, then there are RNAV approaches available these days which are far more accurate than NDB approaches. And I still prefer VOR approach over NDB approach  
Quoting francoflier (Reply 18):
Not sure of the technical details, so someone might correct me, but an NDB is not much more than a simple radio emitter like the one on top of radio broadcasting stations. In any case, it is much simpler than a VOR and consumes less power.
Their reception range is also greater than that of a VOR, which would help in remote areas.

An NDB is a lot simpler. It only basically says 'I am here' and the ADF receiver in the cockpit points the needle towards the NDB. A VOR sends out 360 radials which are steady. The NDB is fluctuating a lot and is not 100% steady. So the VOR is a lot more accurate.
NDB has a higher range, so in remote areas you can get an idea where you are (back in the old days, today with INS, GPS you don't need them anymore for area navigation).

In Russia you still have many NDB's and they must have a high intensity because their needles are pretty steady and can be received quite far away.

In Greenland there are still many NDB's and NDB approaches. Sometimes with marginal weather. Kudos to their pilots there. Difficult conditions there.

wilco737
  



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 5845 posts, RR: 15
Reply 20, posted (5 months 22 hours ago) and read 2663 times:

A few US airports that my airline flies to still have NDB approaches, with the NDB being the only ground-based approach at one of them.


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User currently onlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4158 posts, RR: 76
Reply 21, posted (5 months 18 hours ago) and read 2628 times:
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The end of the NDB approaches were written quite clearly at the avent of the A320 . In order to use the system to the full, these approaches were flown ( either *managed* or *selected* ) as RNav let-downs, continuous descent and all.
Then with GPS equipping most newer aircraft, NDBs were only used as *portals* to the final approach.

Quoting francoflier (Reply 18):
an NDB is not much more than a simple radio emitter

Basically, yes;
A VOR station, on the other hand necessitates quite a set-up as it s radiation needs tweaking according to the implantation surface, its environment...etc... and it is a lot more expensive to maintain and to re-callibrate, all that with a precision of around 5°, which is very low compared to a GPS-based approach.



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User currently offlineBravoOne From United States of America, joined Apr 2013, 177 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (5 months 18 hours ago) and read 2617 times:
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The 787 has the ADF as an option. You can fly an ADF approach with an overlay and do a much better job assuming you have Ops Specs approval.

User currently offlineBoeing77w From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 200 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (4 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 2429 times:

A major European operator has approved them. Done in one of two ways, either traditionally with heading and timings or with an LNAV/VNAV overlay from the FMC (still required to monitor ADF signals). Not done one in over 3 years.

User currently offlinerendezvous From New Zealand, joined May 2001, 515 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (4 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2275 times:

We still use NDB approaches in New Zealand, if we have to. They are right at the bottom of the preferred approaches list. They really aren't much fun on a stormy night! Most places here have an RNAV approach now, but they aren't much good if you have a GPS RAIM issue.

User currently offlineiFlyLOTs From United States of America, joined Apr 2012, 433 posts, RR: 0
Reply 25, posted (4 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2287 times:

Quoting woodreau (Reply 13):
"they (Embry-Riddle / ATP Flight School / insert favorite aviation college) said we'd never see NDBs at an airline".

They clearly didn't get that message at my school... I have to write a paper on NDBs this weekend because I thought that they were obsolete and would never use them... My instructor didn't like me thinking like that.. So yesterday we shot an actual NDB approach and now I have to write a paper on them...



"...stay hungry, stay foolish" -Steve Jobs
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7345 posts, RR: 32
Reply 26, posted (4 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2277 times:

Quoting iFlyLOTs (Reply 25):
would never use them

Never is really a bad word to use in any school situation.


User currently offlinesccutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5393 posts, RR: 26
Reply 27, posted (4 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1693 times:

Quoting francoflier (Reply 12):
Historically, Russia has always been a heavy NDB user. It was just about the only way to put navigation beacons in the middle of these vast expanses of nothing and at the remote airports that connected them.
Until fairly recently, the ADF was the most prominent navigation instrument on any Russian or Soviet built aircraft.

Many Russian airfields have dual-NDB approaches (and the aircraft flown there have dual ADF receivers with a single two-needel indicator), and they are a very bone-simple, easily-maintained system.

Flying an approach, keep both needles lined-up, and you're in line with the runway. Stupid simple, and much easier to set up and maintain.

Here's one (and yes, it's not in Russia, but you can get the point from the plate; elegantly simple).

http://www.caa.co.za/resource%20cent...MM_MAFIKENG/NDB_01/FAMM_NDB-01.pdf



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlinemandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 6590 posts, RR: 75
Reply 28, posted (4 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1672 times:

Quoting zeke (Reply 4):
we are prohibited from doing NDBs under our SOPs.

You guys are in trouble whenever our ILS is down in CGK... no VOR approaches... it's straight from ILS down to NDB... *puke*

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 5):
Do you know of any airlines that do allow NDB approaches? I would think with how common VORs and ILS's are that they wouldn't be widely accepted by many airlines.

All the airlines where I live still have NDB approaches in their ops-spec...



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