tbar220
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"Old Fashioned" Navigation

Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:16 pm

Hi everybody. With the use of GPS navigation becoming so widespread, how much is the following navigation still used?

- Pilotage
- NDBs
- VORs

Nowadays, you can just enter your flight plan into your GPS system, have it plot the path for you from waypoint to waypoint, and take it from there. Is NDB and VOR use still used regularly? Are they being kept in service or decomissioned? Are pilots still trained to fly by landmark and visual cues? Thanks.
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Mir
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:26 pm

Quoting Tbar220 (Thread starter):
Is NDB and VOR use still used regularly? Are they being kept in service or decomissioned?

Yes. Many older planes still don't have GPS or INS systems (I heard that NWs DC9s don't), but they still need to get where they're going.

Quoting Tbar220 (Thread starter):
Are they being kept in service or decomissioned?

VORs will be around for a while to come. Some NDBs are being phased out, but many are still there.

Quoting Tbar220 (Thread starter):
Are pilots still trained to fly by landmark and visual cues? Thanks.

VFR pilots are. About half the cross-countries that I've flown have been pilotage and dead reckoning only (some have been IFR - I Follow Roads  Wink ). Once you move on into instrument training, visual cues are pretty much useless, and it's all about the instruments.

There is, however, some concern that the presence of GPS is starting to make even VFR students keep their head inside the plane too much.

-Mir
7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
 
Buzz
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:41 pm

Hi Tbar220, Buzz here. I prefer to fly Classic / Tailwheel airplanes. So i normally draw a line on the Sectional, call the FSS to find out weather/Notams/TFR's and pretty much follow the line. But then i'm flying in Aeronca Champs and Cubs with the windows open. I don't use the VOR much, have used an NDB twice.

GPS is handy, i've got a hand held version but don't use it. I think too many private pilots fly around "heads down", they never see low and slow yellow airplanes. When i see somebody close by, i rock my wings vigorously. If they rock back then i feel safe.

And i'm not flying IFR. In modern airplanes (with transponder and more than one radio) i'll sometimes ask Portland Approach for flight following, then i can cross over that busy city instead of skirting the edges. If you get used to "flying the map" then you look for landmarks - and places to land if your engine fails.

When i was learning to fly, my CFI prohibited me from using a GPS - learn to FLY , because you can learn electronics anytime.

g'day
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:49 pm

Quoting Buzz (Reply 2):
Hi Tbar220, Buzz here. I prefer to fly Classic / Tailwheel airplanes



Quoting Buzz (Reply 2):
they never see low and slow yellow airplanes

Now you're talking!! I first soloed in a J-3 and owned one for a few yrs. That's flying. I'd love to get back in a Champ or J-3. CC
 
pilotaydin
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:01 am

hey bro, well i can say that most low budget flight schools dont have gps as official parts of their aircraft, just handhelds that the odd pilot brings, so it's actually good for the kids, they use ndbs, dme and vor navigation, i know that riddle is using gps more and more since i graduated from there, my current school that i teach at now we use only ndb and vor  Smile

which is good for the kids bc they know all forms of nav before the airline

thank god for pts  Smile
The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!
 
Woodreau
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 1:09 am

Quoting Buzz (Reply 2):
When i see somebody close by, i rock my wings vigorously. If they rock back then i feel safe.

Someone else I know just sticks his hand out and waves..   If the other guy waves back then you really know they've seen you.

Quoting Tbar220 (Thread starter):
Is NDB and VOR use still used regularly? Are they being kept in service or decomissioned? Are pilots still trained to fly by landmark and visual cues?

I'd say they still are, and airliners still need VORs and DMEs (in addition to GPS) to update the aircraft's position in their FMS boxes. Still sometimes we get an airplane with the FMS inoperative ... then we have to go back and fly using just VORs on green and yellow needles.

I still use landmarks as we get into the lower altitudes to help me find the airport faster. So soon as we can get visual, we'll get cleared for the visual approach, especially if we're #1 in line for the airport/runway. It's much faster than getting vectors to final for the ILS, and it helps out the guys following behind us.

At night time, I'll use landmarks to help me find the airport beacon. I've been able to pick out the airport beacon from 120nm away sometimes as I'm just starting my descent from the FLs.

edit: as far as NDBs, NDB approaches are being phased out, but I did get an NDB hold a few months ago. I can turn any VOR into an NDB when I turn on the bearing pointers on the nav/EHSI display and apply all the concepts you'd use to fly to an NDB to fly to that VOR that I've tuned in. You're flying the needle just like you would using an ADF.

[Edited 2005-12-26 17:13:55]
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
DeltaGuy
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 3:35 am

On older commerical a/c like the 737-200, 727, DC-9, etc, it's just pure VOR nav- no INS, no FMS, no GPS- nothing fancy. Just pretty much tuning in and following to each station. Seems like everything else these days has 3 IRU's and can find it's way to a gopher hole if need be  Wink

DeltaGuy
"The cockpit, what is it?" "It's the little room in the front of the plane where the pilot sits, but that's not importan
 
pilotaydin
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 4:13 am

those damn gopher holes.....
The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!
 
jspitfire
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 4:33 am

I did my Commercial Training last year, and I have just finished my Multi rating. Throughout the training we have used NDBs and VORs quite a bit. It has been all VFR so far, but on probably about half of my training flights we would be either tracking an airway, shooting an NDB approach, or practicing holds. We do have a VFR GPS in all of the 172s we fly, and we do use that a lot as well.

In January I will be starting my Multi-IFR, and we will be using the NDBs and VORs a lot there. But again, we also have an IFR GPS, so I imagine that will always be on, which makes things a lot easier.

If you're talking about "old fashioned" navigation, in my groundschool class I have also learned such useless things as finding the sun's true bearing, and a brief look at how the astro compass and grid navigation work. These would all be used up North, where the magnetic compass is unreliable, but with GPS, I don't think anyone uses them anymore. It's amazing to think that pilots were able to find there way by reference to the stars and the sun. It seems so complicated compared to pressing a few buttons on the GPS.  Smile

Jason
 
tbar220
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 7:23 am

Quoting Jspitfire (Reply 8):
It's amazing to think that pilots were able to find there way by reference to the stars and the sun.

Very cool. It wouldn't really be necessary with today's technology, but that is some knowledge that would just be cool to have.
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Stoicescu
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:12 am

In the airliners world if they are not able to use INS/GPS they will use VOR/DME and if that doesn't work they will use VORs only. At the flight school I go we use GPS (Garmin) but we always use a second navigation way because sometimes we loose satellite signal.
 
pilotpip
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 11:43 am

You have to know how to use all three mentioned in order to get your private and commercial license as well as the instrument and instructor ratings in the US. Even if you don't have NDB (as is becomming the norm in GA) you still have to know how to do computations based on the navaid.

PS: If you're on of my students and you can't find you way with pilotage and dead rec I'm not letting you use the GPS  taekwondo 
DMI
 
turnit56N
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:56 pm

I didn't let my students use VORs until they could do a cross-country by pilotage and dead reckoning alone. I didn't let them use GPS until they could intercept and track VORs and NDBs in their sleep. And then I taught them enough so that they could enter a flight plan, fly it, and make an approach on GPS alone.

In today's airspace with today's aircraft, new instrument pilots should be familiar with all of the above. I wouldn't feel comfortable eliminating any of the above from my training syllabus, and not just because they're required by the FAA. In the past students could pretty much plan on doing a VOR, ILS, and NDB approach on an instrument checkride. Now that there's the requirement to demonstrate a GPS approach if your aircraft is equipped, many of my students weren't being asked to demonstrate an NDB approach. I still make sure that they are very comfortable flying off the NDB. They may be phasing them out in the continental US, but you never know where your flying career will take you. You also never know when you might get asked to do an NDB hold, or have to get in to some out-of-the-way airport that can only afford an NDB.
Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.
 
tbar220
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 6:28 pm

Excellent responses so far, thanks.

Why would the NDB's be phased out? It would seem to me more practical to have them remain in service, even if it is a sort of "backup" navigational tool.
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pilotpip
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 7:28 pm

NDBs are a backup to a backup of sorts. They're old, not used as often as the others and haven't been a primary in most of the country since Victor Airways wer created. They're also getting expensive to maintain especially when you consider they aren't used. Of the three most common navigational systems, they have the most flaws. The low frequency is susceptable to interference from all kinds of good stuff like lightning, and since it isn't line-of-sight and to be quite honest, they aren't that accurate. The system is basically 20s technology, then again, VORs are from around the 40s but they're much more accurate. Also, with the advent of WAAS and LAAS augmented GPS which will be much more accurate than anything we've seen before.

Interestingly though, NDBs were originally going to be phased out because it was believed that LORAN would replace them, then the system was only going to be around until the 90s. I did a report in 2000 on WAAS and LAAS approaches and at the time the FAA was saying that there wouldn't be an NDB left by 2005, which was then revised to 2008 and now I think its up to 2012 or later.
DMI
 
Mir
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:06 pm

Quoting Tbar220 (Reply 13):
It would seem to me more practical to have them remain in service, even if it is a sort of "backup" navigational tool.

With the widespread GPS use in GA, many planes rolling off the assembly line don't have ADFs in them, and thus NDBs are useless. As more and more planes have GPS in them, more and more planes will be able to use the GPS to navigate to an NDB instead of the ADF (which is a bitch to have to deal with - though I know some  old  guy will come after me and say "when I was your age..." for saying that  Smile ). Thus, NDBs that are costing the FAA money to maintain won't be used anymore, and thus it isn't worth keeping them around anymore. With the current rate of technology advancement, I'd be surprised if many NDBs were around at the end of the decade.

-Mir
7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
 
turnit56N
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 11:14 pm

NDBs are also a lot cheaper to install and maintain than VORs. ADFs are a lot cheaper than a Garmin 430 or similar GPS. Hence the reason that they're still very much in use in parts of the world. They may be phasing them out in the continental US, Europe, and other wealthy parts of the world, but they're going to be around for a while in certain parts of the world.
Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.
 
mandala499
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Tue Dec 27, 2005 11:19 pm

Err...
Visual cues ? Yes, in VFR flights... and on visual circuits/approaches even on an IFR flight when they're coming to land...

VORs and NDBs are still used... even with GPS, I know many pilots that still tune their VORs and NDBs... NDBs will still remain as locator beacons as they are cheap... Besides, not all aircraft navigate by GPS... FMS on IRS source prefers to update positions with VORs and NDBs.

Why keep up your VOR and NDB nav "skills" when there's GPS? Ever did a descent in IMC following your GPS only to find you're GPS is in error? it happens! Happened to a friend, 40NM off! It turns out to be an error in the signal processing. And in older aircraft, they slap on a standalone GPS... so when that's not working right, you don't have anything else but your VOR/DME and NDB.

That's why it's still a requirement for your Instrument Ratings!


Mandala499
When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
 
pilotpip
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Wed Dec 28, 2005 9:31 am

Mandala,

They're eliminating marker beacons in the US as well. A number of middle markers at STL have been decomissioned recently.
DMI
 
tbar220
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:36 pm

Is it true that NDB's can follow the curvature of the earth? I've heard that's one of their advantages over VORs.
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pilotpip
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:38 pm

Yes, NDBs are low frequency transmitters and follow the contour of the earth much like AM radio stations.
DMI
 
Yikes!
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Thu Dec 29, 2005 6:40 am

Yo, Jason: In response to your post:

Quoting Jspitfire (Reply 8):
I did my Commercial Training last year, and I have just finished my Multi rating. Throughout the training we have used NDBs and VORs quite a bit. It has been all VFR so far, but on probably about half of my training flights we would be either tracking an airway, shooting an NDB approach, or practicing holds. We do have a VFR GPS in all of the 172s we fly, and we do use that a lot as well.

In January I will be starting my Multi-IFR, and we will be using the NDBs and VORs a lot there. But again, we also have an IFR GPS, so I imagine that will always be on, which makes things a lot easier.

If you're talking about "old fashioned" navigation, in my groundschool class I have also learned such useless things as finding the sun's true bearing, and a brief look at how the astro compass and grid navigation work. These would all be used up North, where the magnetic compass is unreliable, but with GPS, I don't think anyone uses them anymore. It's amazing to think that pilots were able to find there way by reference to the stars and the sun. It seems so complicated compared to pressing a few buttons on the GPS.

Jason

I used to think like that until I had to use it for real. Mind you, that was 20 years ago. But nevertheless, without a sound understanding of the basics, why risk your life, your family's future, your livelihood on information YOU perceive to be outdated?

If you know the basics, you'll know when the technology is lying to you.

Time, Speed, Distance: They never, ever lie to you.
 
DeltaGuy
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Thu Dec 29, 2005 7:28 am

Hope they don't eliminate the ADF completely from aircraft, because then how am I going to pick up some country music enroute? Big grin

DeltaGuy
"The cockpit, what is it?" "It's the little room in the front of the plane where the pilot sits, but that's not importan
 
jspitfire
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RE: "Old Fashioned" Navigation

Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:51 am

Quoting Yikes! (Reply 21):

I agree with you that an understanding of the basics is essential. I still use dead reckoning for every cross country flight, and even when we do IFR planning, we still have a nav log with all of our headings, distances, times, etc.

From what I hear from my instructors, most of the old technology's that were used up north have been replaced by GPS, but I understand why they still teach them to us. If I was flying up there, I would certainly make sure I understood all the different methods of navigation, should my GPS fail.

I have leaned through my training that you should never rely on just one instrument. I am always cross checking, backing up my assumptions with other instruments and my knowledge. You should never just accept what an instrument or something says, you should always be asking questions to yourself, and making sure that it is in fact the right information.

Jason

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