Are the runway directions given in the table relative to magnetic north or true north? (True or Magnetic?) How can I understand this? Is there a specific case for charts? enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Actually no, what I want to ask is are the degrees in the DIRECTION section marked with yellow color magnetic or true? But I guess from your answer these degrees are magnetic, right? $\endgroup$
    – pilot162
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ They are most liikely magnetic as the @RTO answer indicated. However, Jeppesen 10-9 chart for LTPA shows runway magnetic headings of 50° and 230° respectively. $\endgroup$
    – wbeard52
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ Lido by Lufthansa Systems shows 048°52' and 228°63' with a 5°E magnetic variation. $\endgroup$
    – alQ
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ @mins: According to the information I got from the site at this link (metar-taf.com/airport/LTAF-adana-sakirpasa-airport), the direction was determined according to "True North" and the direction of the runway was shared as "True Heading". To be sure, I compared the directions of different airport charts with the data on this site. All direction data match "True Heading". $\endgroup$
    – pilot162
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ I think you don't need to blame yourself because what you said is not wrong. Of course, the runway numbers are given by rounding to the nearest number of the magnetic headings of the runways, and as the magnetic inclination changes, the runway numbers also change. But that's not what I was discussing here, I already knew this information. All I wanted to know was whether the "DIRECTION" information on the AIP aerodrome chart was "True" or "Magnetic". $\endgroup$
    – pilot162
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


The answer is these bearings are referenced to true north as indicated in the official AIP for Turkey:

enter image description here

However I don't understand why this reference to true north is not explicitly mentioned in the question chart, explanations are welcome.

The general recommendation from ICAO related to runway information is provided in Annex 4 to the Chicago convention:

13.6 Aerodrome/heliport data
13.6.1 This chart shall show:
d) all runways including those under construction with designation number, length and width to the nearest metre, bearing strength, displaced thresholds, stopways, clearways, runway directions to the nearest degree magnetic, type of surface and runway markings;

Annexes are only recommendations to States members, however when a State doesn't follow the recommendations it must provide a description of the deviations in the section GEN 1.7 of the AIP. In this case the deviations related to §13.6.1 are:

13.6.1.g TWY markings are not shown
13.6.1.i TWY centerline points and aircraft stands are not shown

No deviation for 13.6.1.d, so the runway bearings should be referenced to magnetic north. This is not a problem when reading documents where the reference is explicite (e.g. in the table above), but the aerodrome chart in your question has no warning.

A last point about bearings.

Before modern navigation instruments, in particular before GNSS, the compass was the reference. Today the magnetic reference creates many problems linked to how magnetic bearings are determined and used:

  • First a GNSS (or INS, or sensor-fusion) bearing is determined, it is true by nature as the coordinates reference system used for position determination has an ellipsoid aligned with Earth rotation axis (WGS-84).

  • Then tables are used to convert it to a magnetic equivalent because magnetic bearing is the legal reference for navigation, for crews and controllers.

  • While avionics silently uses the true bearing which is more simple, for all its calculation, all bearings displayed to the crew, or entered by the crew, will be magnetic.

  • The conversion tables are derived from the World Magnetic Model. All avionics units use this model, but different units may use different versions, and updates may be slow or inexistent. In addition units may use different algorithms and get results not matching or not matching with maps/charts.

So there is a project to stop using the magnetic reference and switch to a legal true north. Canada is driving this project for ICAO. Canada is indeed interested more than other because in polar regions, the magnetic declination varies a lot with position and also in time. So for these regions, and only for them, the legal reference is true north. Canada, among other, must live with two legal systems and make them more or less compatible.

You may read more:

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    $\begingroup$ Your point is excellent. There should be a clear annotation that the runway bearings are referenced to true north. Otherwise, typical convention is to reference runways to magnetic north. I learned something today - Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 21:44

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