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3.1.1. Introduction to Navigation System
Finding the way from one place to another is called NAVIGATION. Moving of an
aircraft from one point to another is the most important part for any kind of mission.
Plotting on the paper or on the map a course towards a specific area of the earth , in the
past, used to be a task assigned to a specialized member of the aircraft's crew such a
navigator. Such a task was quite complicated and not always accurate. Since it depended
on the observation, using simple maps and geometrical instruments for calculations.
Today, aerial navigation has become an art which nears to perfection. Both external
Navaids (Navigational Aids) and on-board systems help navigate any aircraft over
thousands of miles with such accuracy that could only be imagined a few decades ago.

3.1.2. Piloting
Piloting is the most common method of air navigation. This method, the pilot keeps on
course by following a series of landmarks on the ground. Usually before take-off, pilot
will making pre-flight planning, the pilot will draw a line on the aeronautical map to
indicate the desired course. Pilot will notes various landmarks, such as highways,
railroad tracks, rivers, bridges. As the pilot flies over each of landmark, pilot will checks
it off on the chart or map. If the plane does not pass directly over the landmark, the pilot
will know that he has to correct the course.

3.1.3. Dead Reckoning

Dead reckoning is the primary navigation method used in the early days of flying. It is
the method on which Lindberg relied on his first trans-Atlantic flight. A pilot used this
method when flying over large bodies of water, forest, deserts. It demands more skill and
experience than pilot age does. It is based on time, distance, and direction only. The pilot
must know the distance from one point to the next, the magnetic heading to be flown.
Pilot works on the pre-flight plan chart, pilot plan a route in advance. Pilot calculates the
time to know exactly to reach the destination while flying at constant speed. In the air,
the pilot uses compass to keep the plane heading in the right direction. Dead reckoning is

not always a successful method of navigation because of changing wind direction. It is
the fundamental of VFR flight

3.1.4. Radio Navigation

Radio navigation is used by almost all pilots. Pilots can find out from an aeronautical
chart what radio station they should tune to in a particular area. They can then tune their
radio navigation equipment to a signal from this station. A needle on the navigation
equipment tells the pilot where they are flying to or from station, on course or not.

3.2 Non-Directional Beacon

3.2.1 Introduction

A medium frequency navigational aid which transmits non-directional signals ,

superimposed with a Morse code identifier and received by an aircraft's ADF. After
tuning to particular NDB, the pilot uses audible ident as the confirmation that the correct
beacon has been selected.The non-directional beacon and its associated automatic
direction finding equipment is primarily a short distance navigational aid. The ground
station (NDB) radiates a signal in all directions around the transmitter, and the aircraft
receiver (ADF), when tuned to this signal determines the direction from which the signal
is being radiated. By following the direction indicated by the ADF instrument the aircraft
will fly over the NDB.

The system operates in the medium frequency band, that is, 200 to 400 Kcs., however,
most aircraft equipments are sufficiently flexible to enable one or two additional bands to
be selected so as to extend the use of this facility to cover bands utilized by broadcasting
stations. In isolated cases NDBs are operated in the higher frequency band (1666 Kcs.) to
lessen the reflecting influence of mountainous country.

3.2.2 NDB as a Navigational Aid

Non-Directional Beacon is a radio navigational aid used by the aircraft all over the world
for finding directions while flying from one point to other. Discovery of radio and ability
of detecting its source of emission, utilizing directional antenna, led to the development
of NDB. It is the simplest and oldest system, which has for many years played a vital

role in the navigation system for both aeronautical and maritime uses and will probably
do so for many years to come.

Non-Directional Beacon is a ground station that transmits a low frequency or medium

frequency signal, which is radiated Omni-directionally in the horizontal plane (azimuth),
with vertical polarization. There is no coded navigation information inside the signal
apart from the station identification in Morse code that repeats 7 times per minute. The
NDB receiver in the aircraft gives the pilot information of the bearing to the NDB
transmitter stations, which are located in the air-routes or at the airports. Bearing is the
horizontal angular displacement in clockwise direction with respect to North. In addition
to the directional information the NDB station also gives indication when the aircraft is
passing overhead a station, i.e., the NDB station provides a position fix overhead
indicated by a decrease in field strength and an abrupt change of indicator needle by

3.2.3 Working Principle

NDB is simply a radio transmitter that transmits tone modulated RF signal in the
LW/MW frequency band with station identification seven times per minute. Volume-1 of
ICAO Annex-10 to the convention on International Civil Aviation Organization states
that, "The radio frequencies assigned to NDB's shall be selected from those available in
the portion of the spectrum between 190 KHz and 1750 KHz. The frequencies being used
for NDB can vary from zone to zone. As the frequency band from 525 to 1605 KHz is
widely used for Radio Broadcasting, most of the frequencies for NDB's are selected
below 525 kHz within 200 to 415 kHz. The signal is amplitude modulated at 95% by a
station identification audio tone in Morse code (A2), which repeats 7 times per minute to
identify a station. The identification tone consists of two to three letters. The frequency
of the modulating tone can be either 400Hz or 1020Hz. Each letter is separated by a
dash. For example: The Kathmandu NDB at the Tribhuvan International Airport is coded
as KAM, which in Morse code translates as:

dash dot dash dash dot dash dash dash dash


In the aircraft, a receiver called Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) automatically

displays the station bearing as soon as it is tuned to a NDB station. The Automatic
Direction Finder uses the Loop Aerial that has a specific direction finding property.
Depending upon the orientation of the loop aerial, signals in its output varies greatly. A
loop aerial possesses the following properties.

3.2.4 Loop Aerial

Direction finding maybe carried out in any region of radio spectrum, though certain
frequencies are specifically allotted for radio navigation purpose. In aviation only LF/MF
and VHF are used for radio direction finding. LF/MF are used for NDB ground stations
whereas VHF is used for finding the direction of the aircraft from the ground. The
technical features of direction finders operating in various frequencies naturally differ,
but the fundamental principles remain the same. In the LF/MF, due to comparatively
very large wave length, so called LOOP ANTENNA is extensively used. Loop Antennas
are highly directional in property, which could be derived mathematically as follows:

Consider a rectangular loop antenna of length a and width b with its plane vertical
mounted so that it can be rotated about its vertical axis. Let there be a vertically polarized
electromagnetic wave E incident on it, coming from a direction making an angle
with the plane of the loop at its center.

The source is assumed to be so far away that the incident wave is a plane wave. Voltages
are induced in the vertical members of the loop, but not in the horizontal members as the
wave is vertically polarized. The magnitude of the voltage induced in the two vertical
members is therefore a.e1 and a.e2, where e1 and e2 are the magnitude of electrical field
in rms. The voltages in the two members will not be in phase, as can be seen from the
diagram since the arrival times will not be the same. Taking the electrical field at the
center of the loop as the reference, the voltage induced in AB lags by an angle , and that
induced in CD leads by , where being the phase difference of the arriving signal with
respect to center of the loop. Considering = 2 and difference in path length is b
Cos. Then phase difference equivalent to path length is

= 2. b Cos = .bCos

If the electric field at the center e(t) = E Cos t then voltages induced in two vertical
members will be :

e1 = aE Cos (t - b Cos )

e2 = aE Cos (t + b Cos )

Therefore resultant voltage at the output of the loop antenna will be

e = e1 e2 = aE Cos (t - b Cos ) - aE Cos (t + b Cos )


e = 2 aE. Sin t . Sin b Cos

Since b is very small in comparison to then we could do approximation as

Sin b Cos = b Cos

Hence e = 2E . ab Sin t. Cos

From the above formula we could make the following conclusions:

a) Output of the loop antenna is dependent of the incident angle . When the plane of
the loop antenna is perpendicular to the incident radio signal , i.e. when is 90
the output from the loop is zero and maximum when is 0

b) Output from the loop antenna will increase when the dimensions a and b will
increase. That is, output is directly proportional to the area of the loop. Accordingly,
if there are N turns in the loop then output voltage will also increase by N times.
Accordingly, a Loop Aerial may have two distinct positions as follows:

Null Position

If the plane of the loop is at right angle to the direction of the waves coming from the
radio beacon, the two sides of the loop will be at the same distance from the station. Thus
the signals will arrive at the same time without any phase difference, causing current
induced in both sides of the loop to be the same. However, since they are opposite in
direction, they will cancel each other producing no rf output from the antenna. This is the
null position of the loop aerial.

rf waves

Min. or no signal

Maximum Position

If the plane of the loop aerial becomes parallel to the direction of the waves, signals will
reach at both sides with maximum difference in phase. That will produce maximum
signal strength.

Max. phase difference

rf waves

Max. signal

The Null position is preferred in direction finding because:

# It is easy to determine a null than a maximum

# It is more accurate and sharper.


There are always two null positions and two maximum positions for a loop antenna. The
loop aerial will always receive the same signal by turning it to 180 degrees. This may
create confusion about a station and there will be an ambiguity of 180 degrees regarding
the direction of the station.

The ambiguity is solved in the modern aircraft receivers by addition of another non-
directional antenna for sensing. The ADF receiver uses a rotating loop antenna, which
gives the figure of eight pattern, and a fixed sense antenna that gives an Omni-directional

The figure of eight pattern from the loop antenna has positive (+) and negative (-) phase
as indicated below. The sensing antenna has omni-directional circular pattern with (+)
phase. The composite pattern therefore will be a cardioid as shown below.

Circular pattern +
- +

Figure of eight pattern

When pilot tunes to an NDB station the ADF loop antenna automatically turns the
indicator towards the direction of the station with reference to magnetic north. This is
interpreted in the needle as the Radio Magnetic Bearing Indication.

3.2.4 ADF Display

The Automatic Direction Finders (ADF) are manufactured with either analog or digital
display. In either case, in ADF receiver, bearing information is presented on either a
Relative Bearing Indicator (RBI) or the more complex Radio Magnetic Indicator (RMI). Relative Bearing Indicator :

This is the simplest type of display, shows the pilot the bearing of the tuned NDB
transmitter relative to the axis of the aircraft. The RBI is measured clockwise in degrees
(O - 360) from the nose of the aircraft. See Figure above.

9 Radio Magnetic Indicator:

This instrument displays the magnetic bearing of the NDB as well as the heading of the
aircraft. Therefore it is more convenient for the pilots. The figure above shows the
method of measuring RMI.


By using relative or magnetic bearings, NDB can be utilized for various navigation
purposes. Depending upon their use and where they are placed. Homing: NDB is installed at the vicinity of the airport. Aircraft find their way to
the airport by tracking on to the beacon. En-route: NDB is installed in between the airports on the prescribed routes.

Sometimes the beacon may be offset from the route. However, by using relative bearing
a position fix can be determined. Holding: Such an NDB is called Locator Beacon and is placed a few miles away
from the airport area. Aircraft circle the beacon at different heights waiting for
permission to land.

10 Instrument approach: NDB is installed on the center line of the runway. Aircraft

make straight-in approach by using the NDB.

3.2.6 Advantages of NDB

Although there are now several more accurate navigational systems available on other
radio frequency bands, the NDB is still used in every country in the world, and will
continue to do so for many more years to come. The reasons are obvious which can be
outlined as follows:

# Very simple air-borne and ground equipment

# Inexpensive to install and maintain

# Omni-directional information

# Any number of aircraft can use the same radio beacon

# Responsibility of accuracy mainly depends on airborne receiver

# Multi-purpose uses

3.2.7 Limitation of NDB

1. Night effect

Radio waves take two paths to the radio compass receiver. The first and normal path is
along the earths surface. If only these waves were received, the compass would point
directly to the NDB. The second path is via one or more wave refracting layers above the
earth (the ionosphere) returning to earth to mix with directs waves. Complete changes in
the nature of the waves take place on this path and produce errors in direction.

Fig; night effect

The ratio of the intensity of indirect to direct waves in the total received signal
determines the liability of error of the radio compass. As the strength of the indirect
waves is far greater at night, errors then are more common and of greater magnitude: this
is called night effect. Often this effect is more pronounced within an hour of sunrise or
sunset, when the changes in the state of ionisation of the upper atmosphere are
particularly violent.

The night time range of an NDB is only dependable over distances where the ground
wave transmission predominates, which is approximately 60 miles over land and 100
miles over sea under reasonable propagating conditions. As the distance increases the
ratio of indirect to direct waves will increase and bearing indications will become erratic.
Treat with caution NDB reception beyond these ranges.

2. Co-Channel and Adjacent Interference from Other NDBs

If the signal from another NDB operating on the same or an adjacent frequency is
received with sufficient strength, the automatic bearing determination circuits of the
compass receiver will be influenced and a bearing error will result. Generally NDBs are
spaced geographically, and frequencies allocated to minimise these effects. At night,
however, when the sky wave component of an NDB extends to a far greater distance than
that of its ground wave, it may cause interference. This may be serious if the ADF

receiver is tuned to an NDB beyond its rated coverage, when the signal strength will be
low and therefore susceptible to interference from extraneous transmissions

It is important to appreciate that the audible perception of another NDB identification

code heard on the same frequency as the selected NDB does not necessarily mean that
the indicated bearing is in error. Although its identification code can be heard, the
interfering signal may not be strong enough to influence the directional properties of the
ADF receiver. Under these circumstances, however, the indicated bearing should be
considered suspect and checked by other means.

3. Mountain Effect

Sometimes an effect similar to night effect is obtained in mountainous areas where the
energy received from an NDB consists of two or more waves, one of them direct and
others by reflection from the mountains. Bearing indications are found to change rapidly
until the affected area is passed.

4. Thunderstorms

A thunderstorm generates a tremendous amount of radio frequency energy and when the
aircraft is near to a storm centre the radio compass may indicate the direction of the
storm and not that of the NDB to which it is tuned. Therefore, when flying in the vicinity
of a thunderstorm, the accuracy of the bearing indications should be checked by other
means whenever possible.

5. The Effect of Terrain

The useful range of an NDB is influenced by the type of terrain over which the radio
wave travels. It is greatest over the sea and least over sandy or mountainous country, and
an NDB with a daylight range of 600 miles over the sea may only have a range of little
more than 100 miles over unfavorable types of land. Therefore, when an NDB is located
on the coastline, its range in different directions can be expected to vary considerably

6. Height Effects

The range of an NDB over the sea is relatively independent of aircraft height. Over
unfavorable terrain it increases considerably with height

7. Quadrantal Error
Due metallic portions of the aircraft the radio waves get deflected. Error produced by
such a phenomenon is called quadrantal error because it is maximum in all four
quadrants. Quadrantal error differs for one aircraft to other, which can be corrected by
using the correction curve for that particular aircraft.

3.2.8 Sitting Requirement

An NDB may be located on or adjacent to the airport. If it is used as an approach aid

then it should be located on the centerline of the runway. In any case, the siting criterion
is not very complicated. However, the following should be observed:

The NDB site should be smooth, level and well drained. The antenna system should not
penetrate the approach or transitional surfaces of the airport. There should be no metal
buildings, power lines or heavy metal fences around the NDB station at a distance closer
than 100 feet.

3.2.9. Antenna System

NDB antennas are similar to normal LW/MW antennas. Because of dominating

transmission by the ground wave, vertically polarization is necessary. Hence vertical
wires or self-supporting structures are the solution. Since, NDB operating frequency is in
order of only a few hundred KHz, the practical length of an antenna must be much lower

than /4 wave length. For example, for an NDB station working on 250 KHz, its
wavelength will be:

= 300/ 0.250 = 1200 meters

or /4 = 300 meters

To erect an antenna 300 meters tall is not only very expensive but also prohibited near
the airport areas due to possible obstruction to the aircraft. In practice much shorter
antennas (from 20 to 40 meters) are used. Because the antennas are relatively very short
they are always capacitive in nature. Therefore, to resonate a NDB antenna some tuning
inductance must be used. As described above, NDB antennas are vertically polarized.
Therefore the radiator is kept in vertical position from ground. The earth acts as an image
to the radiator. To increase the capacitance of the antenna, a ground radial system has to
be provided. A ground radial system, which is also called counterpoise, is a system of
copper wires buried approximately 15 cm below the surface of the ground. The size and
shape of the counterpoise will vary with the type of antenna system used. Normally the
wires are laid at 5 to 10from the center, just below the radiator. Fig. 2.1-M below
shows a typical ground counterpoise of an NDB. pattern

The polar diagram of an NDB antenna radiation is shown below. It is Omnidirectional in

the horizontal plane (H-plane) and directive in vertical plane (E-plane). Theoretically
there is maximum gain along the earth surface, but in practice we will have maximum
field strength at some angle from the surface due to losses in the ground wave



(H-plane) (E-plane)

Polar diagram of NDB antenna Types of antennas

A very simple, effective and widely used NDB antenna is T-antenna, which is illustrated
below. The vertical wire is, of course, the actual radiating element and the horizontal
wire provides additional antenna capacitance to the ground. To increase the capacitance
of the antenna three or more parallel wires are used in the horizontal portion. The normal
height of T-antenna is approximately 20 to 30 meters. Sometimes an inverted L-antenna
is also used. However, it is more sensitive to unwanted horizontally polarized electric
field component compared to a T-antenna.

The self-supporting mast or a mast radiator is also a popular NDB antenna. The normal
height of such an antenna is 20 to 40 meters. Top-loaded insulated guy wires increase
capacitance. Such an antenna is more efficient than a T-antenna and therefore widely
used for long range NDB as well as MW/LW broadcasting.

For locator beacons or for the beacons used for approach purposes, since the coverage
required is very small, relatively short antennas are used. One of such antennas is
Umbrella type. It is a small self supporting mast radiator with several top-loading
elements like an umbrella. The top loading increases the capacitance of the antenna,
hence it becomes easier to resonate. The normal height of an umbrella antenna is not
more than 12 meters.


3.2.10 Factor Affecting NDB Antenna
The radiation resistance of an NDB antenna is very low and equals to only a few ohms.
If it were possible to match a source of radio frequency energy so that all the power is
dissipated into the radiation resistance then these antennas would have been equally
efficient as one with much higher radiation resistance. However, in practice the total loss
resistance of the antenna is much higher than the radiation resistance. Therefore, most of
the energy gets wasted and the efficiency of the antenna becomes too low.

There are several factors that affect the efficiency of an NDB antenna. These are briefly
described below: Antenna Reactance:

NDB antennas are capacitive in nature. The capacitance of antenna is important to know
because it provides the basis for knowing the amount of tuning inductance required for

Since, for resonance: L =1/ C

Smaller capacitance will need bigger inductance, causing more loss of energy in the
conductor. Thus the capacitance of an antenna should be as higher as possible. This can
be done either by increase in height of the antenna, or simply by additional top-loading.
The second option is more economical and favourable. The capacitance of an electrically
short vertical antenna may be calculated by the use of well known transmission line
formula. For a simple vertical radiator (insulated from ground) having a height H from
the ground and diameter D, its capacitance can be roughly calculated from the
following formula:

C = 5766 X Tan

Log 2H

Here C in pF, H and D in feet, and - electrical length of the radiator in degree.

The following table gives approximate values of a vertical radiator without top loading in
pF. From this it is evident that antenna capacitance is dependent of vertical height and
diameter of the radiator element.

Antenna diameter in inches

Antenna Height (ft) 0.1 1 12
50 90 120 184
75 131 170 254
100 167 219 308
150 245 314 451
200 322 428 654
250 399 504 795

Where antenna length is desirable to keep short, top loading is used. This greatly
increases the capacitance of the antenna thereby reducing the requirement of large
antenna tuning inductance. Additional capacitance generated by top loading in a T-
antenna can be calculated as follows:

C = 5766 X Tan (0.07315L)

Log 4H

Here C in pF, H, L and D in feet. L Length of top loading wire. Radiation resistance:

The base radiation resistance is another important characteristic. It is a characteristic,

which has a direct relationship to the radiated power and consequently to effective range
of the NDB. Because the NDB antennas are electrically very short (less than 30), the
current distribution along the antenna is linear and radiation resistance may be calculated
to reasonably close approximation by the formula:

R = 2 /328 , where is the electric length of the antenna in degree. = 360

With the above formula it is evident that by increasing the length of the antenna its
radiation resistance increases, and hence the efficiency increases. See following table.

Radiation resistance in Ohms

Antenna Height (ft) 200KHz 300KHz 450KHz
50 0.041 0.092 0.206
75 0.092 0.207 0.466
100 0.163 0.367 0.825
150 0.367 0.825 1.857
200 0.657 1.467 3.300
250 1.020 2.295 5.164 Antenna Q :

Antenna system Q is the ratio of the reactance of the antenna capacitance to the antenna
total system resistance. It is always preferable to keep the Q as low as possible to reduce
losses in the antenna system.

Since Q = Xc/R ,

Q can be reduced by increasing capacitance of the aerial. I.e. by addition of top loading
or by increasing the height. NDB transmitters are usually required to have a bandwidth
of at least 2X1020 Hz. 1020 Hz being the max ident frequency.

Bandwidth = f/Q

Therefore, at 300 KHz Q = 300,000/2040 = 147

Which means a Q of 147 at 300 KHz NDB station will insure that the ident modulation
will be radiated without any distortion. If bandwidth of the antenna is low ( Q is high)
then instead of 1020 Hz ident modulation of 400Hz should be used. Expected range

NDB antenna should be designed in such a way that it should radiate reliable signal up to
the required coverage area. ICAO has specified that in the coverage areas the field
strength should not be less than 70V per meter. Between the latitudes 30N and 30S
field strength of 120V may be required. Voltage at the antenna base

The peak voltage at the antenna base for usual NDB is :

V = IA x XC Where IA - Antenna current and XC - Antenna reactance.

Example: For an NDB with T-antenna top loaded with three wires and 50 ft high and
100 watts transmitter C = 581 pF and antenna Current IA = say 7 Amps

at 200KHz XC = 1370 Ohm

then V = 9590 Volts

For the same antenna without additional top loading, C = 90 pF XC = 8842

Hence V = 61,894V

This amount of voltage is difficult to contain and would probably cause considerable
difficulty due to corona, flashover, etc. Therefore the antenna capacitance of an NDB
antenna should be kept around 500 pF or more.

Conclusion : To increase the efficiency and to improve the performance of an NDB

antenna its capacitance should be as high as possible and should be more than 500pF
at the lower frequencies. This can be achieved either by increasing the height of the
antenna or by providing additional top loading.

3.2.11 Transmitting Equipment

The NDB transmitter is relatively very simple equipment. The RF carrier is amplitude
modulated either by 400Hz or by 1020 Hz tone, which is coded with two to three letters
station identification in Morse Code. A simplified block diagram is shown in Fig. 2.1-Q:


Monitor equipment monitors the performance of the radiating signal. Radiation is done
in A0/A2 mode. Depending upon the use an NDB could be classifies as one of the

High Power: usable range extends up to 400 NM. Radio beacons of this type are
considered as en-route or homing radio navigational aids. The transmitter output is
normally 100W to 5KW.

Low Power : usable range extends from 10 NM to 25 NM. Radio beacons of this type are
called locators and are normally used for approach or holding purposes. The transmitter
output power is kept below 100W.

3.2.12 Monitoring and Calibration

Normally the NDB beacon has two transmitters and two monitors, i.e. dual equipment
system. Monitor analyzes the radiated signal and checks the following:

# Gives alarm if the transmitted carrier power is reduced more than 3dB. i.e. 50%

# Gives alarm if the identification signal is removed or continuous by any reason.

# Gives alarm if the monitor itself becomes faulty.

When one of the above conditions occurs the monitor unit commands the changeover
unit to shut sown the faulty transmitter and to start the standby. The NDB stations are
normally unattended, which are monitored for a failure by the technicians through radio.
To distinguish main transmitter from standby normally the main is modulated with 1020
Hz and the standby with 400Hz.

3.3 VHF Omi Directional Radio Range (VOR)

3.3.1 Navigational Aid
A navigation system in which one or more signals are emitted from a facility (or co-
located facilities) to produce simultaneous indication of bearing and distance. Since a
bearing is a radial line of position and a distance is a circular line of position, the rho-
theta system always ensures a position fix produced by the intersection of two lines of
position which are at right angles to each other. This produces a minimum geometric
dilution of position, a figure of merit for all radio navigation systems, and is one of the
chief advantages of a rho-theta system. Another major advantage is that it is a single-site
system and can thus be installed on a ship or an island. This has also made it attractive
politically, enabling small countries to have their own navigation systems.VOR is an
example of such a system.

VOR as a Navigation Aid:

Accuracy: radial alignment error <3 degrees - maximum amplitude of bend

Ground: monitors are placed around the site to detect drift in the radiated signal if signal
exceeds tolerance, the transmitter shuts down.

Air: If signal level, andor, if either of the modulation levels falls below a preset level an
error flag signal is sent to the HSI

Availability: Most sites have dual transmitters so if one fails the other takes over. Avail-
ability is better than 99.

VOR, short for VHF omnidirectional radio range, is a type of short-range radio
navigation system for aircraft, enabling aircraft to determine their position and stay on
course by receiving radio signals transmitted by a network of fixed ground radio
beacons, with a receiver unit. It uses radio frequencies in the very high frequency (VHF)
band from 108 to 117.95 MHz. Developed in the US beginning in 1937 and deployed by
1946, VOR is the standard air navigational system in the world, used by both
commercial and general aviation. There are about 3000 VOR stations around the world.
A VOR ground station sends out a master signal which is sent with equal intensity in all
directions, and a highly directional second signal that varies in phase 30 times a second
compared to the master. This signal is timed so that the phase varies as the secondary
antenna spins, such that when the antenna is 90 degrees from north, the signal is 90
degrees out of phase of the master. By comparing the phase of the secondary signal to
the master, the angle (bearing) to the station can be determined. This bearing is then
displayed in the cockpit of the aircraft, and can be used to take a fix as in earlier radio
direction finding (RDF) systems, although it is, in theory, easier to use and more
accurate. This line of position is called the "radial" from the VOR. The intersection of
two radials from different VOR stations on a chart provides the position of the aircraft.
VOR stations are fairly short range, the signals have a range of about 200 miles.
VOR stations broadcast a VHF radio composite signal including the station's identifier,
voice (if equipped), and navigation signal. The identifier is typically a two- or three-letter
string in Morse code. The voice signal, if used, is usually the station name, in-flight
recorded advisories, or live flight service broadcasts. The navigation signal allows the
airborne receiving equipment to determine a magnetic bearing from the station to the
aircraft (direction from the VOR station in relation to the Earth's magnetic North at the

time of installation). VOR stations in areas of magnetic compass unreliability are
oriented with respect to True North.

3.3.2. Frequency Band

Operating frequency: 108MHz to 118 MHz
Mainly used in frequency: 112MHz to 118MHz.
Frequency used by Kathmandu VOR: 113.2 MHz
The channel separation between the VOR's is generally taken either 100 KHz or
200KHz. from place to place with frequency tolerance of 0.005%. In order to
accommodate more VOR beacons, in some densely installed areas, the channel
separation may be used as close as 50 KHz. But to avoid harmful interference or inter-
modulation the frequency tolerance of all the nearby VOR's should be maintained at

3.3.3. General Principal of Operation

The principle of operation is bearing measurement by phase comparison. This means that
the transmitter on the ground produces and transmits a signal, or actually two separate
signals, which make it possible for the receiver to determine its position in relation to the
ground station by comparing the phases of these two signals. In theory, the VOR
produces a number of tracks all originating at the transmitter. These tracks are called
radials and are numbered from 1 to 360, expressed in degrees, or . The 360 radial is
the track leaving the VOR station towards the Magnetic North, and if you continue with
the cardinal points, radial 090 points to the East, the 180 radial to the South and the
270 radial to the West, all in relation to the magnetic North. Think of a lighthouse at sea
and imagine the white light rotating at a speed of one revolution per minute (60 seconds).
Every time this white narrow beam passes through Magnetic North, a green
omnidirectional light flashes. Omnidirectional means that it can be seen from any
position around the lighthouse. If we are situated somewhere in the vicinity of the light
sources and are able to see them, we can measure the time interval from the green light
flash until we see the white light. The elapsed time is directly proportional to our
position line in relation to the lighthouse. The speed of 1 RPM corresponds to 6 per
second, so if 30 seconds elapse between the time we see the green flash and the white
rotating light, we are on the 180 radial, or directly south of the station (30 sec x 6/sec =
180). This calculation can be done from any position and the elapsed time is directly

proportional to our angular position (radial). We could name these light signals, calling
the green one the Reference (REF) signal and the white beam the Variable (VAR) signal.
The same principle is employed in a VOR.

3.3.4 VOR Transmission Techniques

Modulation Goniometer

eliminator Cardioid pattern

9960 Hz 30 Hz FM 30% AM RF Amp.

Generator Modulato Modulato

Omnidirectional pattern
Figure: General block diagram of VOR transmitter
A 9960 Hz generator produces the sub-carrier frequency, which is the basis for the REF
signal. The 9960 Hz is fed to a 30Hz frequency modulator in order to produce the
frequency deviation of 480 Hz. This again is amplitude modulated with 30% on the
VHF transmitter, normally 50 to 200 Watts output. The REF signal is fed to an
omnidirectional antenna, which normally is a loop antenna, called Alford loop antenna.
The REF signal is also in parallel fed to a modulation eliminator, which removes the
modulation, and the signal output from this block is then a clean continuous wave (CW)
signal with the same carrier frequency. This signal is fed to the horizontally polarized
dipole antenna to obtain the figure of eight pattern.Since the frequency of these two
signals are the same, they will combine together to form a cardioid. The goniometer
rotates the figure of eight at 1800 rpm, which will also cause the cardioid to rotate at the
same rate.

A cardioid has maximum and minimum radiation pattern. While rotating, when the
maximum pattern is towards the receiver it will receive maximum signal and for
minimum pattern the signal received will be minimum. Therefore, if the cardioid is made
to rotate at 1800 times per minute (30 times per second), the receiver will get the signal
as 30 Hz AM. The following Fig. 2.2.6 explains the rotation of the cardioid pattern and
the resulting AM signals received by the airborne VOR receivers at north, east, south and
west directions. Form these figures it is evident that the variable phase of the amplitude
modulation (space modulation) is dependent of azimuth degree by degree.

VOR is a phase comparison system. This means simply that the phase of one signal
is compared with the phase of another. However, a problem arises in that this
type of comparison is possible only between signals whose frequencies are
identical, and one also needs to be able to identify the source of each signal.
Some-times this identification can be accomplished by time multiplexing the
signals and storing the phase information in the receiver circuitry for later
comparison. But in the VOR system both signals are transmitted simultaneously,
and there needs to be a way to prevent the two from producing a resultant as
they pass through space. This is accomplished by transmitting one signal as
amplitude modulation and the other as frequency modulation. Detection in the
receiver produces two separate audio signals of exactly the same frequency but
with measurable phase difference.

The two signals being compared are both 30 Hz signals. One is transmitted in a
manner so as to produce a circular radiation pattern. Thus all aircraft at the same
instant in time, and at the same distance from the transmitter, receive the same
exact phase of this 30 Hz signal. Consequently, this signal is called the reference
signal. The other signal has a radiation pattern shaped like a cardioid, and this
pattern is caused to rotate about the station 30 times per second. The airborne
equipment which receives this cardioid signal detects a signal strength which
depends on which part of the cardioid it is receiving at any particular instant of
time. By the rotation of this pattern amplitude modulation is created, and the
received signal strength from the variable signal undergoes a cyclic change which
is repeated 30 times per second.

Since both signals occur at the same 30 Hz rate there is a repetitive

synchronization between the two, and all that is needed is an index point so that
they may be compared for phase difference. This index point is established on the
reference signal, and the phase of the variable signal is initially adjusted so that
the phase difference between the two is 0o at magnetic north. The rotation of the
variable signal from north azimuth creates a phase difference of one electrical
degree for each rotational degree; therefore, an observer can determine his
geographical azimuth by simply measuring the phase difference between the phase
of the reference signal and the phase of the variable signal. A receiver anywhere
within the coverage area of a facility will receive two 30 Hz signals-one from
the reference field and one from the variable field cardioid that is passing by.
The phase of the signal from the variable field will lag that of the reference field
by the exact number of degrees the receiver bears from magnetic north.

3.3.5. Rotation of cardioids

As explained earlier, position of cardioids is dependent of position of figure of eight pattern.

Therefore, if the figure of eight pattern is rotated the cardioids will also rotate at the same speed.
In the old VOR a motor at the speed of 1800 rpm rotated the dipole. The device, which rotates
the pattern, is called goniometer. Since, the accuracy of a VOR is highly dependent on rotation of
cardioid, any change in motor speed caused serious problems. Nowadays fixed antennas are used

and the goniometer produces such signal to the VOR antenna that the figure of eight pattern is
electronically rotated.

Figure indicates a Goniometer and its two outputs, i.e. one sinusoidal pattern and other
cosinusoidal pattern. Both patterns have the same RF carrier phase which, is indicated by Ecos

There are two inputs to the Goniometer, one CW signal (Ecost) from the modulation eliminator
and the other a LF signal (Ecospt) which modulates the RF carrier. The antenna system consists
of two crossed dipoles or slot antennas facing NE/SW and SE/NW. The cosine output from the
goniometer, which is called green sideband, is always connected to the NW/SE antenna. The sine
output from the Goniometer is called red sideband and is connected to NE/SW antenna.

As seen from the goniometer diagram, the red and green outputs are 90 out of phase. Therefore
at any time when the cosine signal is maximum the sine signal is zero and vice versa. This
means, when NW/SE antenna will radiate the figure of eight pattern with maximum energy the
NE/SW antenna will not radiate any. Similarly, after some time when NE/SW antenna will get
maximum energy NW/SW will not radiate any.

Because sinusoidal variation is smooth, the rotation will also be smooth. Also, the envelope of
the curves, i.e. sine and cosine patterns, are provided with frequency of 30 Hz, the resulting
figure of eight pattern will also rotate with 30 Hz (1800 rpm).

Each pair of the antennas are fed with a steady increase or decrease in power, therefore, the
individual figure of eight pattern will be radiating only in two fixed directions 90 apart. Since

the carrier frequency of both patterns are the same, the vector sum of these two will produce a
resulting figure of eight pattern that will rotate with correct frequency of 30 Hz.

By inspecting the following diagram (Fig. 2.2-8) one can easily visualize how the rotation takes
place. Since the cardioid pattern is formed by vector addition of figure of eight and non-
directional circular patterns, it will also rotate with the same speed as figure of eight pattern, i.e.
at 30 Hz.

3.3.6. VOR Errors

1) Multi-path errors: The major bearing errors in the VOR system are caused by multi-
path reception. Signals reaching the aircraft receiver may include those that arrive after
reflections from natural or man-made objects as well as those arriving by a direct path.
The multi-path signals will add and subtract as the phases of direct and reflected signals
vary while the aircraft flies along the course.

2) Ground station errors: results from misphasing of the 30 Hz reference and variable
phases, misalignment of the north and other calibration errors at the VOR station. The
major ground station error is due to spurious vertical polarization generated by the
antennas resulting in undesirable vertically polarized 30 Hz azimuth dependent
component. This spurious 30Hz component will not be in phase with the actual 30 Hz
horizontally polarized variable phase. The aircraft antenna, although horizontally
polarized, will pick up some of this vertically polarized signal when the aircraft will tilt.
These factors may cause an additional error to the tune of 1.

3) Aircraft receiver error: It is a function of the cost and age of the aircraft receiver. The
older generation aviation receivers tend to have errors, which in new equipment have
been essentially eliminated. The modern aircraft receivers have performance better than

4) Pilotage or flight technical error: It is a function of many parameters, which are all
difficult to measure. Studies of flight technical errors show the error to be higher when
the aircraft makes a turn than on a straight-line route.

Since all errors are independent with respect to each other, the total error can be
calculated as follows

Total error = (Em2 + Eg2 + Ea2 +Ep2) Where

Em = Multi-path error

Eg = Ground station error

Ea = Aircraft receive

Ep = Pilotage error

3.3.7. Doppler VOR (DVOR)(For Operation Check from Principles of Avoinvics)

The DVOR is a later and improved design of VOR which suffers less from siting errors. The
CVOR requires a clear area of at least 1500ft in radius. The DVOR is more practical in
crowded areas or where there are tall buildings. However, it's a big structure . The DVOR
reverses the usage of the two 30Hz signals. However, by also reversing the direction of it's
rotating variable signal it produces exactly the same result in the receiver. The receiver has
no "knowledge" that it's a DVOR as opposed to CVOR it's receiving and operates as

normal.In the DVOR the main VHF carrier is AM modulated at 30Hz - providing the
Reference signal. This is transmitted from a central omnidirectional antenna and has the
same phase all around the VOR for any receiver.The effect of a 9960 FM modulated
subcarrier is created using the Doppler effect by emplying a switched array of antenna
arranged in a circle of diameter 44ft. (This distance being the exact amount to provide +/-480
apparent frequency shift in the subcarrier.) Imagine a carrier of Fc MHz, AM modulated at
30Hz on the central antenna. Then imagine an array of an even number of aerial elements
arranged around the central aerial in a circle of diameter 44ft. (Typically 48 are used.) The
VOR controller presents the subcarrier as sidebands on the opposite ends of an imaginary
arm. Pairs of opposite aerials are switched in to form a rotating arm at 30Hz (1800RPM).
The opposite aerials elements carry are sidebands of (Fc+9960Hz) and (Fc-9960Hz)

From the receiver's perspective, there's a constant phase 30Hz AM modulation on the main
Fc MHz carrier but there also appears to be a 9960Hz subcarrier which is in turn frequency
modulated at 30Hz. The sidebands will appear to be frequency modulated at 30Hz by +/-480
Hz due to the rotation and subsequent 44ft variation in distance between transmitting aerial
and receiver causing Doppler Shift as the transmitting "arm" rotates. Of course, the phase of
the 30Hz frequency modulation on the subcarrier (with respect to the reference signal) will
depend on the receiver's angular position around the VOR. Hence, the same receiver
comparison will result in the receiver's radial position being established as in the CVOR. The
Doppler effect is created by letting the VAR signal be electronically rotate, on the circular
placed aerials, at a speed of 30 revolutions per second. With a diameter of the circle of 13.4
meters, the radial velocity of the VAR signal will be 1264 m/s. This will create a Doppler
shift, causing the frequency to increase as the signal is rotated towards the observer and
reduce as it rotates away with 30 full cycles of frequency variation per second. This results in
an effective FM of 30 Hz. A receiver situated at some distance in the radiation field

continuously monitors the transmitter. When certain prescribed deviations are exceeded,
either the IDENT is taken off, or the complete transmitter is taken off the air. This receiver is
call is monitor antenna. It detects the following

RF level
9960 Hz modulation
30 Hz AM modulation level
30 Hz FM

The information from the antenna goes to the monitor unit which monitors the error and
takes necessary action like shutting down the VOR if the error persists.
The resulting interference of the REF and the VAR signal gives a pattern known as the
cardioid pattern. This cardioid pattern rotates with the VAR signal and covers 360 degrees
for one complete switching of the antenna array.
The cardioid pattern is same as the pattern found in the CVOR section above. The receiver
antenna on the aircraft receives this pattern and isolates the two signals to detect the azimuth.

3.3.8. Types of DVOR

Based on antenna rotation techniques, three different types of DVOR have been
developed. These are, single sideband, double sideband, and alternate sideband.

Single sideband: - In SSB-DVOR one sideband, fc + 9960 KHz is fed to the commutator
and switched around the ring of radiating elements. The system is capable of radiating
the correct frequency spectrum. However, in space a receiver finds some variation in
field strength. The nearer antenna gives higher field strength than the opposite far end
antenna, as they are placed apart. This gives rise to an additional unwanted 30 Hz AM in
variable FM signal


Double sideband:- Double sideband operation reduces the above counterpoise effect to
almost zero. In this system, upper and lower sideband signals are radiated simultaneously
from antennas diametrically opposite to each other. Both sidebands are commuted at 30
Hz in the same direction.
24 Lower sideband

Upper sideband

Alternate-sideband:- The alternate-sideband is the simplification of the double-sideband.

The two sidebands are radiated alternately from opposite sides. Although technically
perfect, it requires some additional modifications in aircraft receiver, ald also requires
larger counterpoise than the above two.

Out of above three systems, the double sideband VOR became more popular. In Nepal
all DVORs are working with double sidebands.

3.3.8 Siting Requirement

The DVOR antenna system consists of an array of antennas on a raised platform in the
middle of unpopulated fields. The sitting guidelines for a VOR transmitter are given below:
The site should be on the highest ground in the vicinity to obtain maximum line of
sight coverage; preferably 1000 ft 2000 ft. The land around the station should be
circular and as flat as possible. A downward slope up to a gradient of 4% is
The height of the high tension lines r wire fences should not subtend a vertical angle
more than 1.5 degree.
Single trees of moderate size of up to 30 ft. may be allowed beyond 500 ft. No group
of trees is allowed within 1000 ft. if they subtend vertical angle greater than 2 degree
from the VOR antenna.
No metallic structure should subtend a vertical angle greater than 1.2 degree or
should be within 500 ft. from the station. Wooden structures with negligible metallic
contents may be allowed if they subtend vertical angle no more than 2.5 degree.
In the mountainous terrain, a mountain top site will often be preferable. The site
should be on the highest accessible hilltop or mountain, the top of which should be
graded flat to a radius of at least 150 ft. On such sites, the antenna system should be

installed approximately a half wavelength above the ground level in the center of the
graded area and the transmitter building should be beyond the graded area down the
slope below the optical line from the antenna array. No ground trees, power lines,
buildings etc. between 150 ft. and 1200ft. should be within the optical line of site of
the antenna array.

The VOR system usually coexists with the DME system. The VOR system consists of a
central antenna that radiates an omnidirectional reference signal. There are 48 antennas
situated at a distance of 7m from the center of the array structure. Each antenna is an
ALFORD LOOP ANTENNA. The central antenna is used to continuously radiate REF
signals whereas the surrounding antennas form the VAR signal. The signals have been
explained in the previous section. The net interaction of the signals gives rise to the rotating
cardioids pattern. The counterpoise is a metallic structure on top which is covered by chicken
wire. Since the signals from the antennas bounce at the edge of the counterpoise, wider the
counterpoise better the immunity from nearby reflections. This causes less multipath
reflections and gives space and frequency diversity effects, thereby improving the DVOR.
The monitor antenna, placed 80m away from the structure, is approximately 3m from the
ground level. It serves to monitor the system and if the signals from the VOR are outside of
allowed threshold, the monitor antenna detects this fault of the antenna and transmits the

Obstructions CVOR DVOR

1. Flat area without any obstructions 1000-2000' 450'-900'

2. Wooden structures 2.5 5.6

3. Group of trees 2 4.4

4. Overhead lines 1.5 3.3

5. Metallic structures 1.2 2.6

6. Fences 0.5 1.1

3.3.9 Advantages of DVOR over CVOR
When the site is fixed and no alternative sites exit, DVOR gives a higher
guarantee of performance and also requires less expertise on site to achieve that
DVOR has fewer constraints on site selection than CVOR
In high growth area, the performance of DVOR will not deteriorate with the
expansion in the locality
DVOR is less sensitive to industrial interference.
DVOR has less maintenance cost, has less frequent fight testing requirements and
is more reliable.
The only advantage of CVOR over DVOR is its cost.

3.3.10. VOR receiver system

The primary purpose of the airborne equipment associated with the VOR sys-tem
is to detect the 30 Hz amplitude modulated signal produced by the rotating
cardioids pattern and compare it with the 30 Hz frequency modulated reference.
At the output of the 108.0-118.0 MHz receiver is an AM detector. The purpose of this
detector is to pick off the various amplitude modulating signals from the VHF

The detector output is comprised of four elements:

Voice modulation, if it has been used at the transmitter

Coded 1020 Hz identification tones
A 30 Hz signal produced by the rotating cardioids
A 9960 Hz tone which has been frequency modulated 480 Hz by the30 Hz
reference signal.

Figure: Schematic Drawing of Conventional VOR Receiver

The voice frequencies and the identification tone are relayed to the audio
distribution system of the aircraft. The 30 Hz information which was amplitude
modulating the carrier, i. e., the azimuth dependent signal, is filtered to remove
other components and fed to the phase comparison circuitry. The 9960 Hz
subcarrier information is removed by the 10kHz filter and then limited and
applied to an FM detector whose output is the 30 Hz reference signal. After
appropriate filtering this is compared with the azimuth dependent signal, and
bearing information is the result.