modesto2
Posts: 2681
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2000 3:44 am

Track Vs. Heading

Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:05 am

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?
 
flyf15
Posts: 6633
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 11:10 am

RE: Track Vs. Heading

Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:24 am

Always do headings unless otherwise told differently. Usually instructions even include the word heading... ie: "Turn left heading 070"
 
Mir
Posts: 19108
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 3:55 am

RE: Track Vs. Heading

Sun Feb 19, 2006 2:03 pm

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
 
Fly2HMO
Posts: 7207
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 12:14 pm

RE: Track Vs. Heading

Sun Feb 19, 2006 4:53 pm

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
 
nudelhirsch
Posts: 1371
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2003 6:20 am

RE: Track Vs. Heading

Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:34 pm

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!
 
bri2k1
Posts: 952
Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2004 4:13 am

RE: Track Vs. Heading

Sun Feb 19, 2006 6:00 pm

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
 
IAHFLYR
Posts: 3944
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:56 am

RE: Track Vs. Heading

Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:14 pm

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.
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