Can someone help me explain what is the magnetic bearing, heading and track, please?


marked as duplicate by J. Hougaard, Pondlife, Federico, SMS von der Tann, Ron Beyer Jan 22 '17 at 17:07

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Magnetic Bearing: This is the direction of the plane's nose relative to magnetic north at the plane's current position. Simply stated, it's the bearing that your plane's heading indicator gives you. It's from 000 to 359 degrees(where 000 is north, 090 is east, 180 is south and so on). ATC directions are also given usually in magnetic bearings. Most aircraft heading indicators give reading in magnetic bearing only. Note that bearing is always stated in 3 digits.

Magnetic heading/heading. Same as magnetic bearing.

Track: This is where things get a bit complicated. Suppose your plane is flying with its nose pointed at 090 degrees(east). You also have a wind blowing in from 000(north). This 'blows' the plane to the south a bit. Now even though your plane is pointed towards east the direction of its flight path is different! This is where track comes in: it's the direction of the flight path of the plane. In some cases it may be the same as magnetic heading (no winds etc), in others it might be different (crosswinds).

  • $\begingroup$ Usually you refer to bearing as the magnetic direction to something. From the FAA Glossary "The horizontal direction to or from any point, usually measured clockwise from true north, magnetic north, or some other reference point through 360 degrees." We generally talk about the bearing to an airport, VOR, or waypoint—not to magnetic north. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Jan 23 '17 at 15:20

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