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92 votes
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What are the differences between Bearing vs Course vs Direction vs Heading vs Track?

This is how I explain it! Heading: This is where my nose points - and seeing as my nose is attached to my head, this is where my head (and thus my machine) is pointing relative to north. Course: This ...
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64 votes
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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?

If an aircraft is following a magnetic course changes in magnetic declination as the aircraft moves along its route of flight will affect the true course, and on a long flight such as the hypothetical ...
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36 votes
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Why would a pilot need to change their heading when flying through a cold front?

In the Northern Hemisphere, wind usually veers to the right when a cold front passes. If you fly through a cold front, the wind also veers to the right. To maintain a constant track, a correction to ...
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18 votes

What is the meaning of “American 755, turn right, heading 320"?

American 755, turn right, heading 320. Aviation phraseology is direct, specific, and concise. The three items here: The controller is instructing the aircraft identified as ...
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16 votes
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Why Heading Indicator is not magnetic itself and need magnetic compass?

Compass readings during turns are inaccurate and sometimes display turns when you are heading straight but accelerating. As such you need something that is referenced to the airframe turning itself. ...
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15 votes

What are the differences between Bearing vs Course vs Direction vs Heading vs Track?

I will try to explain as simple as possible, though I'm not a professional. Heading It is the value the compass shows you while you fly your plane, relative to Earth's magnetic field. But your ...
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15 votes
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How to calculate the heading correction with a circular flight computer?

1 - First I calculate the track deviation angle: To find the track angle: outer scale: distance off track (NM) in this case 5 NM divided by inner scale: distance already travelled(NM) in this ...
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14 votes

Do aircraft carriers always face into the wind?

During flight operations, the aircraft carrier strives to maintain 30 knots of wind down the angle of the flight deck. Generally speaking, the carrier will adjust its speed and course through the ...
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  • 8,508
13 votes
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Why separate autopilot controls for course and heading?

First, I'll try for the 50 words or less: Course is the line across the ground that you want to go. Heading is where you have to point the aircraft to fly that line. That's less than 50 words, but I'...
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  • 38.7k
13 votes

Do autopilot headings consider the earth's shape?

Yes, almost all modern computer navigation systems take this into account. The track between two points along the "spherical" earth is called the great-circle track. Except for a N/S heading (or a E/...
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  • 2,990
13 votes
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What is the use of heading bug?

Bugs simply make instruments easier to read with a very quick glance. If I need to steer exactly 162 degrees, which is easier? To read where the needle is pointing or just see if the needle is ...
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13 votes
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Does ATC use True Course or Ground Track?

A heading is the direction the plane's nose is pointed. A course is the direction it is actually traveling. The difference between the two depends on wind. A true heading or course is corrected for ...
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  • 26k
12 votes
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Is the heading used near the pole?

Near the poles 'polar grid navigation' is used. By placing a rectangular grid over the pole, aligned with the prime meridian, a local coordinate system is created. Aircraft fly constant grid courses ...
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11 votes
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What is the meaning of “American 755, turn right, heading 320"?

It is quite simple if you look into the answer linked by Steve V. to understand what the headings are. Here is a simple example: aircraft flies at 290. Controller instructs right turn to 320. The ...
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11 votes

Are aircraft pilots required to fly runway heading for a certain distance?

The initial turn should be made at 400 feet AGL. Unless otherwise specified in the departure procedure, the initial turn should be made when reaching an altitude of 400 feet above the runway elevation ...
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10 votes
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What is the difference between azimuth and heading?

A heading (in the general case of moving "forward") is the direction your nose is pointed in. This may not be your course (as discussed here). Headings are measured from onboard a traveling vehicle or ...
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10 votes
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What trajectory do I fly if bearing angle is constant?

The term bearing is not so clear, as the link to another answer in the comment shows. But let's say bearing means the angle between the track (over ground) of an aircraft and a fixed location. This ...
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9 votes
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How quickly should heading changes be accomplished?

According to Wikipedia, a "Standard Rate Turn" is three degrees of heading change per second. The bank angle required to achieve this depends on your true airspeed; at a low TAS a standard rate turn ...
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8 votes

What's the difference between True vs Magnetic headings?

True North is the North Pole. The maps used for navigating are oriented to the North Pole. A pilot can measure the direction between two points to create a 'track' or 'course' to fly in degrees true. ...
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  • 13.2k
8 votes

Do autopilot headings consider the earth's shape?

You wrote: On a flat map, point A might be to point B at, say, heading 060. [...] Is there a formula to determine the optimum heading at the outset (even though it may not 'seem' correct), thereby, ...
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  • 7,147
7 votes

How heading bug is calculated during cross wind and tail wind?

First thing first, let's go over some concept: heading is which way the plane's nose is pointing at, track is which way the plane is travelling on the ground. E.g. if your heading is 360 (North), and ...
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  • 39.2k
7 votes

What is the meaning of “American 755, turn right, heading 320"?

The basic answer is that the controller is instructing American 755 to turn right in order to point the airplane a direction which is 320 degrees clockwise from due north (basically northwest) For ...
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  • 22.3k
7 votes
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What are Altitude, Attitude and Heading Hold?

These are generally 3 different auto pilot modes. The first two are related to pitch and the third to heading/roll a nice overview can be found here Altitude Hold: Generally speaking setting an ...
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  • 96k
7 votes

What is an autopilot washout filter?

A washout filter is used in a yaw damper autopilot to remove the steady state component from the yaw rate sensor. Feedback from the rate sensor is used to damp dutch roll mode, but during turns ...
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  • 16.5k
7 votes

Does the radial needle of a HSI automatically deflect to the correct position when tuning the NAV radio to a localizer / ILS?

It depends on your instrument suite. If you have just a radio with connected HSI, you have to set the course yourself, because on the radio you only set the frequency and there are hundreds ILS ...
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7 votes
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How do you realign a directional gyro in an area of magnetic unreliability?

You initially align it while on the ground, using a known reference like the runway. While in flight, you'll need to use an astrocompass or sextant, if you have one and know how to use it and can see ...
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  • 104k
7 votes

What does the number in degrees indicate on an approach chart?

An approach plate is a map, so the directional values presented are always magnetic track angles (except near the magnetic North Pole). A heading is where the airplane points when it's flying. So, ...
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  • 104k
6 votes
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How do I determine which radial intercept angle to use?

There is no definite answer to this question. If you are far away from the beacon radials are far away from each other and thus small intercept angle would be insufficient to reach desired track in ...
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  • 2,805
6 votes

Can a commercial pilot decide where to make their turn after departure?

The short answer is yes, a commercial pilot can make a decision when to turn. To clarify a few points though, there really isn't such a thing as a "published vector". If a departure procedure with ...
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