Questions tagged [navigation]

Navigation is the process of planning and controlling travel from one location to another. There are many methods of navigation using different techniques and instruments.

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77
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4answers
29k views

How did the 9/11 hijackers find their way to New York City?

It is quite well known that the airplane hijackers on 9/11 were not professional pilots. So, my question is how some people who didn't have any experience of navigating the airplanes could find their ...
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8answers
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Why don’t airplanes use turn signals?

Why don’t airplanes use turn signals like cars do? Would this improve safety for ground operations at uncontrolled airports? Could a similar concept be used to indicate in air maneuvers? For example: ...
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Why do pilots use airways instead of just "flying direct" every time?

These days, on larger/newer aircraft at least, GPS navigation is ubiquitous. So VORs and Non-directional Beacons (NDBs) are used less. Wasn't the reason for airways because they were the connection ...
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3answers
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What are the differences between Bearing vs Course vs Direction vs Heading vs Track?

This answer from English.SE does not focus on aviation, and does not explain 'Track'. In basic, simple English, would you please compare and contrast all 5 terms in my question's title? The ...
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5answers
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In the rare event that the U.S. DOD shuts off the GPS, what's the alternative?

In the U.S., the Department of Defense along with other Federal Agencies of the Government operates & maintains the GPS. In the rarest of the events, if for any reason whatsoever, the Government ...
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6answers
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Do pilots need to know how to use a sextant?

Can a sextant be used while flying? How accurate/reliable is a sextant, both standing still and at 500+ mph? Are sextants found in any cockpits today?
38
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1answer
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Where do I land if I fly from KLAX with a constant east heading, crossing the US and the Atlantic ocean?

Los Angeles KLAX and Casablanca GMMN (Morocco) are at the same latitude. If the aircraft follows a magnetic 090° heading, the initial true heading will be 102° due to the declination. (source ...
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6answers
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How can pilots fly inside a cloud?

I heard that sometime an aircraft fly inside a cloud, and I'm wondering how that works - how clearly can the pilot see while inside the cloud? What if a cloud is "too large"? (Is there a maximum size ...
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6answers
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How do airliners cross the ocean without GPS?

How do airliners cross the ocean without GPS? Do they use dead-reckoning or are there navigation aids floating out there?
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5answers
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Can a Boeing 777 be hacked?

All this confusion over flight 370 has me wondering if it would be possible to hack into an airplane and control the autopilot or other on-board systems in a way that the pilots couldn't regain ...
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2answers
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Why does IRS alignment take so much time?

Home GPS systems (like your car navigator) is able to locate you in like a few seconds, but 737NG needs to align itself for 6-8 minutes. Why do navigation systems in aircraft take so long to align ...
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3answers
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How are airspace fixes named?

Aircraft use nav fixes as waypoints or reporting points along their routes. I have noticed some interesting combinations. Some make sense, like LUCKI to LYNDI on the LYNDI arrival into San Diego ...
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How does ILS (Instrument landing system) work?

How does ILS (Instrument landing system) work? I know it provides guidance to the runway by two signals, one modulated at 90 Hz, the other at 150 Hz, but how the airplane lock on those signals? ...
27
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6answers
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What's the difference between True vs Magnetic headings?

What is the difference between a true and a magnetic heading? Why are/were magnetic headings used in aviation?
26
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2answers
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Is the destination of a commercial flight important for the pilot?

As has been recently advertised (in here, here, here also), a recent British Airways flight from London City Airport destined for Düsseldorf mistakenly flew its passengers to Edinburgh instead. I'm a ...
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When flying VFR without GPS, how do pilots know if they are inside controlled airspace or not?

How do VFR pilots know whether or not they are inside controlled airspace if they don't have GPS onboard?
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Why does "no aircraft cross directly over the pole"?

This is from the last paragraph here: ... no aircraft crosses directly over the pole – the closest route is 60 nautical miles (nm) away. User Michael Shen of York University asked this ...
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How are VORs oriented near the magnetic poles?

I noticed on SkyVector that, for example, the Resolute Bay VOR (YRB) and Baker Lake VOR (YBK) seem to be oriented in such a way that the 360 radial is pointing in the direction of true north (and I ...
25
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3answers
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How do hot air balloons navigate?

Hot air balloons are quite obviously carried along with the wind, so how can they be navigated? Choosing the correct launch point relative to the desired landing point would seem to play a major part ...
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5answers
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What does the term "trimming" most commonly mean in aviation?

Why does an airplane need trim, and what does it do during the flight? Does an autopilot adjust the trim automatically?
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2answers
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Why was Pan Am Flight 103 flying over Lockerbie?

Pan Am Flight 103 was a flight from Frankfurt to Detroit with stops in London and New York. Why after taking off in London did it fly all the way to Lockerbie instead of going directly to New York? ...
22
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4answers
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Do today's aircraft still have INS (inertial navigation system)?

Do today's new aircraft like Boeing 787 still have INS (inertial navigation system)?
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What will happen if satellite navigation fails?

My understanding is that aircraft use GPS systems for navigation (maybe not the only way to navigate). I would like to understand what would happen if the GPS system fails. Are there any other ...
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2answers
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What is the difference between conventional VOR and Doppler VOR?

There are two types of VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) navigation beacons; the conventional VOR (CVOR) and the Doppler VOR (DVOR). What are the differences between them? Specifically I would like to ...
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What's the minimum number of sensors for a hobby GPS waypoint-following UAV?

I would like to develop my own guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) flight software on a Raspberry Pi, for a small hobby fixed-wing UAV. From a physical standpoint, what is the minimum set of ...
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1answer
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Is Doppler navigation still in use for civilian aircraft?

Is it possible to find an airliner nowadays with Doppler radar used for navigation purposes?
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What do aviation agencies do to make waypoints sequences more easy to remember to prevent navigation mistakes? [closed]

Inspired by this question. What examples are there of waypoints strung together on airways or approaches which are funny or tell a story in order to help controllers and pilots reduce navigation ...
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1answer
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What means of navigation did commercial Soviet airplanes use in the 50s-90s?

Nowadays, practically all Western commercial airplanes use some kind of GNSS/GPS as primary means of navigation, sometimes paired with inertial navigation systems and user-friendly computer interfaces ...
19
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How does TACAN work?

How does the Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) system work? How is it different from the VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR) system? Please explain in the simplest possible way.
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2answers
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What is an Inertial Navigation System? How does it work?

In this question, the answer notes that some ADS-B systems are connected to Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), and says they are less accurate than GPS. What exactly is an INS? A couple sub ...
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3answers
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How unique are waypoint names supposed to be?

I had thought that someone such as ICAO was coordinating the assignment of five-letter waypoint names such that they were globally unique. Now I notice that OpenNav knows three different waypoints ...
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3answers
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What is the difference between a fix, a waypoint and an intersection?

It seems these terms are used interchangeably. Are they the same thing? Do they all refer to the points in space that are given 5-letter names?
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Are NDBs and VORs dying as a navigational method?

I am new to aviation, so bear with me on this question: I have read in multiple places that the VOR/NDB navigational aids are dying out to GPS. Is this true? Are more modern aircraft being built with ...
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3answers
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If an aircraft flies straight ahead, does it follow an orthodrome/great circle?

I understand that an orthodrome (line on a great circle) is the line with the shortest distance between two points on a sphere. If an aircraft flies straight ahead, i.e. there is no wind, the rudder ...
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Why don't aircraft fly over Tibet?

If you open www.flightradar24.com or their app, then this is what the scene commonly looks like: As you can see, the South-Central China area is strangely empty and the aircraft look to take a ...
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Do autopilots force the aircraft to fly over certain coordinates?

As part of a project I'm doing I plotted the flight paths of about 2000 flights around the globe, I noticed over both the North Atlantic and Pacific that there is a pattern to the flight paths: You ...
15
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3answers
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What are pilot position reports?

I do a lot of shortwave radio listening, and I often listen to MWARA air traffic radio transmissions based out of San Francisco for flights crossing the Pacific Ocean. When giving position reports the ...
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3answers
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What does the Boeing 777 autopilot do after reaching the last programmed waypoint?

As I understand it, a series of waypoints can be programmed, by a pilot, into one of the autopilots on a Boeing 777. If the autopilot is engaged, the autopilot will cause the aircraft to fly to each ...
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3answers
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Why do we no longer have a navigation officer on modern commercial flights?

In the olden days there used to be a navigation officer in commercial airlines who had the tasks of navigation and radio communication. But, in modern commercial airliners there is no navigation ...
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1answer
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What level of information does a PIC have about a missile crossing their aircraft route?

Recently North Korea launched a missile out of its national airspace on a trajectory which crossed the route of an aircraft from Air France. The aircraft wasn't in danger at any time, the minimal ...
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3answers
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How does an airline open a new route?

How do they manage to open a new route? For example Dubai-Panama. Do they have to open new airways?
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2answers
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What is the purpose of a Victor Airway?

I see lots of great questions related to Victor Airways, but I haven't seen any which indicate why someone would want to fly one or what really makes them special or unique. I get that they are ...
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4answers
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How do I convert true heading to magnetic heading or the other way around?

Is there a method by which the conversions can be achieved on the fly by using a mathematical formulae and not using specific area charts?
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6answers
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Is there a difference between how commercial jets and GA aircraft use airways?

In the answer to this question about why people use airways, one of the commentors pointed out that GA aircraft often use airways in a different fashion than commercial aircraft. I couldn't tell from ...
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2answers
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In WW2, how did aircraft navigate to the carrier?

In World War 2, how did aircraft navigate to the carrier after their mission? I was thinking of something like a beacon installed in the carrier but wouldn't it reveal the location of the carrier ...
14
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1answer
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What precautions should be taken when flying near the magnetic poles?

Aerial navigation is designed to primarily use magnetic headings. Consider an international flight which flies a great circle route across the North Pole, or an aerial tour around the Atlantic area. ...
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Can astronavigation be used during flight?

In an aircraft, can you look at the sky to get your bearing and position like sailors do?
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How is varying modulation depth achieved by localizer ground transmitters?

An approaching aircraft's navigation receiver uses the difference in depth of modulation between the 90Hz and 150Hz signals which are amplitude modulated onto an RF carrier (on a channel between ...
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4answers
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What vertical flight profile could be expected from an aircraft if the pilots were incapacitated?

If there were nobody at the controls what kind of vertical profile could be expected from, for example, a modern airliner? After reaching the cruise altitude I assume the pilot just sets a nav route ...
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What is a navigational fix? Where can I get navigational fixes for a local airport?

Amateur in aviation, so please explain the purpose of navigational fix and its characteristics. How is a navigational fix being placed around the runway, or how it is determined this would be the ...

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