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Flight planning and navigation

Rev. 33 page content was last changed 3 February


Flight Planning and Navigation

Statistics maintained by the United States Federal Aviation Administration indicate that
for many years 'inadequate preflight preparation and/or planning' has been the leading
causal factor in recreational flying accidents.
This tutorial is intended to give a summarised, overall view of adequate and safe flight
planning and navigation techniques that are applicable to recreational aircraft
operations under the visual flight rules, in visual meteorological conditions and within
the current Australian regulations for flight operations outside controlled airspace.
(No RA-Aus Pilot Certificate holder can act as pilot-in-command of a RA-Aus registered
aircraft, at a distance greater than 25 nautical miles from the point of take-off, unless a
cross country certificate endorsement has been issued.)

1. Australian airspace regulations

1.1 Controlled airspace

1.2 Air Traffic Services

1.3 Class G airspace
1.4 Restricted and danger areas
1.5 AIP Book, ERSA and NOTAM
1.6 VMC and the visual flight rules
1.7 RA-Aus aircraft flight operations
1.8 Communication and navigation aids
1.9 Distress frequencies and AusSAR

2. Charts and compass

2.1 Defining position latitude, longitude, altitude and time

Lateral dimensions
Effect of continental drift on precise location
The third positional dimension altitude
Universal Coordinated Time
2.2 Defining the shape of the Earth ellipsoids and geoids
The World Geodetic System 1984
Chart elevation reference the height datum
The Australian geoid
The WGS84 ellipsoid, geoid-ellipsoid separation and GPS altitude
2.3 Aeronautical charts
Chart system basics
Recommended VFR charts
Carriage of flight documentation
Digitised aeronautical charts
2.4 Map topography
2.5 Defining direction the aircraft direct reading magnetic compass
Magnetic variation
Compass deviation
Things that are handy to know

3. Route planning

3.1 The four navigation techniques for flight under the visual flight rules
Dead reckoning
Supplementary technique: position-fixing

Supplementary technique: homing

3.2 Creating a route
Preliminary route
Tracking around and beneath controlled airspace
Waypoint selection
3.3 Airfield check
Classification and communications
Legislative requirements
3.4 Fuel planning
The need for maintaining fuel reserves
Fuel consumption
3.5 Plotting the route on a chart
Reading the chart
Quantifying the route data
Checking minimum safe altitude
The preliminary flight plan
3.6 Obtaining weather forecasts, NOTAM, first light and last light
Aeronautical briefing information the NAIPS Internet Service
Bureau of Meteorology aviation weather services
3.7 Educational material available from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority

4. The effect of wind

4.1 Vectors and the wind triangle

Velocity vectors
The wind triangle
Direct headwind/tailwind
4.2 Estimating heading and ground speed
Trigonometrical relationships
The 1-in-60 rule
Using 1-in-60 to estimate WCA
Using tables to derive ground speed and WCA
4.3 Navigation calculators
Circular slide rules
E-6B calculations

5. Flight plan completion

5.1 Weather and NOTAM check

Area forecast
Aerodrome weather reports and forecasts
Surface chart
Using the Aerodrome Weather Information Service [AWIS]
Choosing the cruising level
Weather radar
NOTAM check

5.2 The set-heading point

5.3 Heading, ground speed and fuel calculation
5.4 Marking the chart plot

6. Pre-flight safety and legality check

6.1 Being prepared for an emergency

6.2 Planning and equipment check list

6.3 Personal fitness for flight
6.4 Staying within the rules
Aircraft fitness for flight
Carriage of flight documentation
Expect a 'ramp check' inspection

7. Airmanship, flight discipline & human factors training

7.1 What is airmanship?

7.2 Risk management

7.3 Situation awareness
7.4 Rules, regulations and commonsense
7.5 Self-discipline
7.6 Personal operating procedures
7.7 Human factors training
7.8 A CFI's viewpoint

8. En route adjustments

8.1 Setting compass heading

8.2 Monitoring and recording flight progress

Position fixing methods
Recording progress
8.3 Track error adjustments
Double track error method
Track error/closing angle method
Flight direct to landmark
Utilising the 1-in-60 rule
Diversions 30 and 60 dog-legs
8.4 Recalculating ETI/ETA and fuel consumption
Checking ground speed
Recalculating ETI
Re-assessing wind velocity
Summary of track angle definitions

Checking fuel consumption

8.5 Diverting to an alternate airfield
8.6 Line of sight distance and landmarks
8.7 Lost procedure
8.8 Dangers of flight into cloud or when lacking visual references
Vestibular system illusions
Spatial disorientation
8.9 Pressing on in deteriorating conditions

9. Supplementary navigation techniques

9.1 Non Directional Beacon

9.2 Automatic Direction Finding equipment

9.3 ADF applications
9.4 NDB/ADF errors
9.5 VHF Omni Range
9.6 VOR applications
9.7 VOR errors

10. En route navigation using the GNSS

10.1 Global navigation satellite systems [GNSS]

Future development
The Global Positioning System
Navigation system performance criteria

10.2 GPS receivers and augmentation systems

Portable and panel mountable/demountable GPS receivers
Calculating altitude
Configuring displays
Stand-alone GPS/GNSS engines

10.3 Performance standards for installed receivers in IFR aircraft

10.4 GNSS VFR applications

Establishing a flight plan
Entering the flight plan route
Monitoring progress
Emergency search feature

10.5 GNSS constraints

11. Using the ADF

11.1 Tracking to an NDB

11.2 Tracking from an NDB

11.3 Running fix/distance from NDB
11.4 ADF simulator

12. Electronic flight planning and the electronic flight bag

12.1 Navigation system performance criteria

12.2 Digitised aeronautical charts

VFR charts available
Raster and vector maps
12.3 Airservices Australia's integrated aeronautical information package [IAIP]
Aeronautical Information Service [AIS]
Navigational information datasets
Aeronautical briefing information the NAIPS Internet Service
12.4 The electronic flight bag
The Australian regulatory status
EFB software suppliers
12.5 Electronic VFR flight planning
Basic needs
VFR flight planning software packages

13. ADS-B surveillance technology

13.1 ADS-B navigation and surveillance technology system concept

Airborne avionics
ADS-B implementation in the USA
13.2 The Australian ADS-B implementation program
13.3 Airservices Australia's ADS-B system
The upper airspace program
The lower airspace program

Supplementary documents
Operations at non-controlled airfields CASA Advisory Circular
Safety during take-off & landing CASA Advisory Circular

Further online reading in Flight Safety Australia

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Other tutorials and guides

| Flight Theory | Aviation Meteorology | VHF Radiocommunications | Coping with Emergencies |
| Decreasing risk exposure | Joining sport and recreational aviation | Builders guide to safe aircraft materials |

Section 1 of the Flight Planning & Navigation Guide

covers Australian airspace and associated regulations
Copyright 20012013 John Brandon

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