Is there any list of formulas for quick counting navigational parameters of the flight, if navigational computer is malfunctioned.

For example, I need to recalculate how long can I fly, if the wind is changed.


2 Answers 2


There is no short list but almost all the navigation information you could ever want can be found in this handbook published by the FAA. If you are worried about your nav computer failing you can always get an E6B which is about as close to failure proof as you can get. An E6B will expedite most most nav related calculations in the air (like headwind component). My E6B has some common nav calculations written on the back of it actually.

  • $\begingroup$ Is this a common device in todays airlines? (E6B) $\endgroup$
    – wiaim
    Jun 2, 2017 at 14:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The chances all the nav computers, tablets and now pilots smart phones go out is slim so I doubt they carry E6B's any more but Im sure some still do if for anything out of habit. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Jun 2, 2017 at 14:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @wiaim I don't know if it's "common", but I always carried an E6B in my flight bag. My dad, who just retired from FedEx after being there since 1978, also carried one with him his entire career. I don't think he ever needed to use it, but he had it just in case. And it doesn't exactly take up a lot of room or weight in a bag. $\endgroup$
    – Shawn
    Jun 2, 2017 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ Even today, I teach using a mechanical e6b, and I require that my students be proficient with it. The results are visual and intuitive and often people miss a keystroke and find themselves heading on a course of 020 instead of 200. If they choose to use an electronic calculator afterwards that is their choice period but I insist that they learn how to use a manual E6B and use it for all primary training and cross country flights. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    Jun 2, 2017 at 20:56

This is not exactly a "rule of thumb" site, but a friend has put together aviation formulas for the last several decades, available at: http://www.edwilliams.org/avform.htm

Rules of thumb for navigation are different, and while I have probably 40 books on navigation alone, the rules of thumb are distributed among them. As technology changes, the rules also morph. For example, rules specific to NDB and ADF navigation are almost obsolete these days, and have low relevance to most pilots.

Meanwhile you will find a collection of formulas in the above reference. And the FAA publication @Dave mentioned will be an excellent general read.


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