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Aircraft Communications and

Navigation Systems:
Principles, Operation and Maintenance

Mike Tooley and David Wyatt


ELSEVIER Butterworth-Heinemann is an imprint Df Elsevier
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First edition 2007

Copyright 2007, Mike Tooley and David Wyatt. Published by Elsevier 2007.
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Preface xi
Acknowledgements xiv
Online resources xiv
Chapter 1 Introduction 1
.1 The radio frequency spectrum
1 .2 Electromagnetic waves 3
1.3 Frequency and wavelength 4
1.4 The atmosphere 4
1.5 Radio wave propagation 5
1.6 The ionosphere 7
1.7 MUFandLUF 10
1.8 Silent zone and skip distance 12
1.9 Multiple choice questions 13
Chapter 2 Antennas 15
2.1 The isotropic radiator 15
2.2 The half-wave dipole 16
2.3 Impedance and radiation resistance 18
2.4 Radiated power and efficiency 19
2.5 Antenna gain 19
2.6 The Yagi beam antenna 20
2.7 Directional characteristics 22
2.8 Other practical antennas 24
2.9 Feeders 28
2.10 Connectors 32
2.11 Standing wave ratio 33
2.12 Waveguide 38
2.13 Multiple choice questions 39
Chapter 3 Transmitters and receivers 41
3.1 A simple radio system 41
3.2 Modulation and demodulation 42
3.3 AM transmitters 43
3.4 FM transmitters 44
3.5 Tuned radio frequency receivers 45
3.6 Superhet receivers 46
3,7 Selectivity 47
3.8 Image channel rejection 50
3.9 Automatic gain control SI
3. 10 Double superhet receivers 51
3.11 Digital frequency synthesis 53
3.12 A design example 55
3.13 Multiple choice questions 59
vi Contents

Chapter 4 VHF communications 61

4.1 VHF range and propagation 61
4.2 DSB modulation 62
4.3 Channel spacing 63
4.4 Depth of modulation 63
4.5 Compression 64
4.6 Squelch 65
4.7 Data modes 65
4.8 ACARS 68
4.9 VHF radio equipment 70
4.10 Multiple choice questions 72

Chapter 5 HF communications 73
5,1 I-IF range and propagation 73
5.2 SSB modulation 74
5.3 SELCAL 76
5.4 HF data link 76
5.5 HF radio equipment 80
5.6 HF antennas and coupling units 81
5.7 Multiple choice questions 84
Chapter 6 Flight-deck audio systems 85
6.1 Flight interphone system 85
6.2 Cockpit voice recorder 90
6.3 Multiple choice questions 92
Chapter 7 Emergency locator transmitters 93
7.1 Types ofELT 93
7.2 Maintenance and testing of ELT 94
7.3 ELT mounting requirements 95
7.4 Typical ELT 97
7.5 CospasSarsat satellites 98
7.6 Multiple choice questions 100
Chapter 8 Aircraft navigation 101
8.1 The earth and navigation 101
8.2 Dead reckoning 104
8.3 Position fixing 105
8.4 Maps and charts 106
8.5 Navigation terminology 107
8.6 Navigation systems development 107
8.7 Navigation systems summary 114
8.8 Multiple choice questions 116
Chapter 9 Automatic direction finder 117
9.1 IntroducingADF 117
9.2 ADF principles 117
9.3 ADF equipment 118
94 Operational aspects of ADF 122
9.5 Multiple choice questions 125
Contents vU

Chapter 10 VHF omnidirectional range 127

10.1 VOR principles 127
10.2 Airborne equipment 131
10.3 Operational aspects of VOR 136
10.4 Multiple choice questions 139
Chapter 11 Distance measuring equipment 141
11.1 Radar principles 141
11.2 DME overview 142
11.3 DME operation 143
11.4 Equipment overview 143
11.5 En route navigation using radio navigation aids 145
11.6 Multiple choice questions 149
Chapter 12 Instrument landing system 151
12.1 ILS overview 151
12.2 ILS ground equipment 151
12.3 ILS airborne equipment 155
12.4 Low range radio altimeter 159
12.5 ILS approach 160
12.6 Autoland 160
12.7 Operational aspects of the ILS 161
12.8 Multiple choice questions 162
Chapter 13 Microwave landing system 163
13.1 MLS overview 163
13.2 MLS principles 163
13.3 Aircraft equipment 166
13,4 Ground equipment 168
13.5 MLS summary 168
13.6 Multiple choice questions 168
Chapter 14 Hyperbolic radio navigation 171
14.1 Hyperbolic position fixing 171
14.2 Loran overview 173
14.3 Loran-C operation 173
14.4 Loran-C ground equipment 175
14.5 Loran-C airborne equipment 176
14.6 Enhanced Loran (eLoran) 177
14.7 Multiple choice questions 178
Chapter 15 Doppler navigation 179
15.1 The Doppler effect 179
15.2 Doppler navigation principles 179
15.3 Airborne equipment overview 183
15.4 Typical Doppler installations 184
15.5 Doppler summary 184
15.6 Other Doppler applications 185
15.7 Multiple choice questions 186
Viii Contents

Chapter 16 Area navigation 187

16.1 RNAV overview 187
16.2 RNAV equipment 191
16.3 Kalman filters 196
16.4 Requ red navigation performance 198
16.5 Multiple choice questions 199
Chapter 17 Inertial navigation systems 201
17.1 Inertial navigation principles 201
17.2 System overview 204
17.3 System description 204
17.4 Alignment process 211
17.5 Inertial navigation accuracy 214
17.6 Inertial navigation summary 214
17.7 System integration 214
17.8 Multiple choice questions 215
Chapter 18 Global navigation satellite system 217
18.1 OPS overview 217
18.2 Principles of wave propagation 217
18.3 Satellite navigation principles 217
18.4 OPS segments 218
18.5 GPS signals 221
18.6 GPS operation 221
18.7 Other GNSS 223
18.8 The fUture ofGNSS 224
18.9 Multiple choice questions 225
Chapter 19 Flight management systems 227
19.1 FMS overview 227
19.2 Flight management computer system 227
19.3 System initialisation 230
19.4 FMCS operation 232
19.5 FMS summary 236
19.6 Multiple choice questions 237
Chapter 20 Weather radar 239
20.1 System overview 239
20.2 Airborne equipment 240
20.3 Precipitation and turbulence 243
20.4 System enhancements 251
20.5 Lightning detection 251
20.6 Multiple choice questions 252
Chapter 21 Air traffic control system 253
21,1 ATC overview 253
21.2 ATC transponder modes 254
21.3 Airborne equipment 255
21.4 System operation 256
21.5 Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast 265
21.6 Communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management 267
21.7 Multiple choice questions 270
Contents ix

Chapter 22 Traffic alert and collision avoidance system 271

22.1 Airborne collision avoidance systems 271
22.2 TCAS overview 272
22.3 TCAS equipment 275
22.4 System operation 277
22.5 Multiple choice questions 283
Appendices 285
1 Abbreviations and acronyms 285
2 Revision papers 291
3 Answers 297
4 Decibels 303
Jndex 305
The books in this series have been designed for also describes the various mechanisms by which
both independent and tutor assisted studies, They radio waves propagate together with a detailed
are particularly useful to the self-starter and to description of the behaviour of the ionosphere
those wishing to update or upgrade their aircraft and its effect on radio signals.
maintenance licence. The series also provides a Antennas are introduced in Chapter 2. This
useftil source of reference for those taking oh chapter explains the principles of isotropic and
jul/jo training programmes in EASA Part 147 and directional radiating elements and introduces a
FAR 147 approved organisations as well as those number of important concepts including radiation
following related programmes in further and resistance, antenna impedance, radiated power,
higher education institutions. gain and efficiency. Several practical forms of
This book is designed to cover the essential antenna are described including dipoles, Yagi
knowledge base required by certifying mechanics, beam antennas, quarter wave (Marconi) antennas,
technicians and engineers engaged in engineering corner reflectors, horn and parabolic dish
maintenance activities on commercial aircraft. In radiators. Chapter 2 also provides an introduction
addition, this book should appeal to members of to feeders (including coaxial cable and open-wire
the armed forces and others attending training and types), connectors and standing wave ratio
educational establishments engaged in aircraft (SWR). The chapter concludes with a brief
maintenance and related aeronautical engineering introduction to waveguide systems.
programmes (including BTEC National and Radio transmitters and receivers are the subject
Higher National units as well as City and Guilds of Chapter 3. This chapter provides readers with
and NVQ courses). an introduction to the operating principles of AM
The book provides an introduction to the and FM transmitters as well as tuned radio
principles, operation and maintenance of aircraft frequency (TRF) and supersonic-heterodyne
communications and navigation systems. The aim (superhet) receivers. Selectivity, image channel
has been to make the subject material accessible rejection and automatic gain control (AGC) are
and presented in a form that can be readily important requirements of a modern radio
assimilated. The book provides syllabus coverage receiver and these topics are introduced before
of the communications and navigation section of moving on to describe more complex receiving
Module 13 (ATA 23/34). The book assumes a equipment. Modern aircraft radio equipment is
basic understanding of aircraft flight controls as increasingly based on the use of digital frequency
well as an appreciation of electricity and synthesis and the basic principlesof phase-locked
electronics (broadly equivalent to Modules 3 and loops and digital synthesisers are described and
4 of the EASA Part-66 syllabus). explained.
It is important to realise that this book is not Very high frequency (VHF) radio has long
designed to replace aircraft maintenance manuals. been the primary means of communication
Nor does it attempt to provide the level of detail between aircraft and the ground. Chapter 4
required by those engaged in the maintenance of describes the principles of VI-IF communications
specific aircraft types. Instead it has been (both voice and data). The chapter also provides
designed to convey the essential underpinning an introduction to the aircraft communication
knowledge required by all aircraft maintenance addressing and reporting system (ACARS).
engineers. High frequency (HF) radio provides aircraft
Chapter 1 sets the scene by providing an with an effective means of communicating over
explanation of electromagnetic wave propagation long distance oceanic and transpolar routes. In
and the radio frequency spectrum. The chapter addition, global data communication has recently
xii Preface

been made possible using strategically located HF During the late 1940s, it was evident to the
data link (HFDL) ground stations. Chapter 5 aviation world that an accurate and reliable short-
describes the principles of HF radio range navigation system was needed. Since radio
communication as well as the equipment and communication systems based on very high
technology used. frequency (VHF) were being successfully
As well as communication with ground deployed, a decision was made to develop a radio
stations, modern passenger aircraft require navigation system based on VHF. This system
facilities for local communication within the became the VHF omnidirectional range (VOR)
aircraft. Chapter 6 describes flight-deck audio system, and is described in Chapter 10. This
systems including the interphone system and all- system is in widespread use throughout the world
important cockpit voice recorder (CVR) which today. VOR is the basis of the current network of
captures audio signals so that they can be later airways that are used in navigation charts.
analysed in the event of a serious malfunction of Chapter 11 develops this theme with a system
the aircraft or of any of its systems. for measuring distance to a navigation aid. The
The detection and location of the site of an air advent of radar in the 1940s led to the
crash is vitally important to the search and rescue development of a number of navigation aids
(SAR) teams and also to potential survivors. including distance measuring equipment (DME).
Chapter 7 describes the construction and This is a shortJmedium-range navigation system,
operation of emergency locator transmitters often used in conjunction with the VOR system to
(ELT) filled to modern passenger aircraft. The provide accurate navigation fixes. The system is
chapter also provides a brief introduction to based on secondary radar principles.
satellite-based location techniques. ADF, VOR and DME navigation aids are
Chapter 8 introduces the subject of aircraft installed at airfields to assist with approaches to
navigation; this sets the scene for the remaining those airfields. These navigation aids cannot
chapters of the book. Navigation is the science of however be used for precision approaches and
conducting journeys over land and/or sea. This landings. The standard approach and landing
chapter reviews some basic features of the earths system installed at airfields around the world is
geometry as it relates to navigation, and the instrument landing system (ILS). Chapter 12
introduces some basic aircraft navigation describes how the ILS can be used for approach
terminology, e.g. latitude, longitude, dead through to autoland. The ILS uses a combination
reckoning etc. The chapter concludes by of VHF and UHF radio waves and has been in
reviewing a range of navigation systems used on operation since 1946.
modern transport and military aircraft. Many Chapter 13 continues with the theme of guided
aircraft navigation systems utilise radio frequency approaches to an airfield. There are a number of
methods to determine a position fix; this links shortcomings with ILS; in 1978 the microwave
very well into the previous chapters of the book landing system (MLS) was adopted as the long-
describing fundamental principles of radio term replacement. The system is based on the
transmitters, receivers and antennas. principle of time referenced scanning beams and
Radio waves have directional characteristics as provides precision navigation guidance for
described in the early chapters of the book. This approach and landing. MLS provides three-
is the basis of the automatic direction finder dimensional approach guidance, i.e. azimuth,
(ADF); one of earliest forms of radio navigation elevation and range. The system provides
that is still in use today. ADF is a shortmedium multiple approach angles for both azimuth and
range (200 nm) navigation system providing elevation guidance. Despite the advantages of
directional information. chapter 9 looks at the MLS, it has not yet been introduced on a
historical background to radio navigation, worldwide basis for commercial aircraft. Military
reviews some typical ADF hardware that is fitted operators of MLS often use mobile equipment
to modem commercial transport aircraft, and that can be deployed within hours.
concludes with some practical aspects associated Long-range radio navigation systems are
with the operational use of ADF. described in Chapter 14. These systems are based
Preface XIII

on hyperbolic navigation; they were introduced in Navigation by reference to the stars and planets
the 1940s to provide en route operations over has been employed since ancient times; aircraft
oceans and unpopulated areas. Several hyperbolic navigators have utilised periscopes to take
systems have been developed since, including celestial fixes for long distance navigation. An
Decca, Omega and Loran. The operational use of artificial constellation of navigation aids was
Omega and Decca navigation systems ceased in initiated in 1973 and referred to as Navstar
1997 and 2000 respectively. Loran systems are (navigation system with timing and ranging). This
still available for use today as stand-alone global positioning system (GPS) was developed
systems; they are also being proposed as a for use by the US military; it is now widely
complementary navigation aid for global available for use in many applications including
navigation satellite systems. aircraft navigation. Chapter 18 looks at GPS and
Chapter 15 looks at a unique form of dead other global navigation satellite systems that are
reckoning navigation system based on radar and a in use, or planned for future deployment.
scientific principle called Doppler shift. This The term navigation can be applied in both
system requires no external inputs or references the lateral and vertical senses for aircraft
from ground stations. Doppler navigation systems applications. Vertical navigation is concerned
were developed in the mid-I 940s and introduced with optimising the performance of the aircraft to
in the mid-1950s as a primary navigation system. reduce operating costs; this is the subject of
Being self-contained, the system can be used for Chapter 19. During the 1980s, lateral navigation
long distance navigation and by helicopters and performance management functions were
during hover manoeuvres. combined into a single system known as the flight
The advent of computers, in particular the management system (FMS). Various tasks
increasing capabilities of integrated circuits using previously routinely performed by the crew can
digital techniques, has led to a number of now be automated with the intention of reducing
advances in aircraft navigation. One example of crew workload.
this is the area navigation system (RNAV); this is Chapter 20 reviews how the planned journey
described in Chapter 16. Area navigation is a from A to B could be affected by adverse weather
means of combining, or filtering, inputs from one conditions. Radar was introduced onto passenger
or more navigation sensors and defining positions aircraft during the l950s to allow pilots to
that are not necessarily co-located with ground- identify weather conditions and subsequently re
based navigation aids. route around these conditions for the safety and
A major advance in aircraft navigation came comfort of passengers. A secondary use of
with the introduction of the inertial navigation weather radar is the terrain-mapping mode that
system (INS); this is the subject of Chapter 17. allows the pilot to identify features of the ground,
The inertial navigation system is an autonomous e.g. rivers, coastlines and mountains.
dead reckoning system, i.e. it requires no external Increasing traffic density, in particular around
inputs or references from ground stations. The airports, means that we need a method of air
system was developed in the I 950s for use by the traffic control (ATC) to manage the flow of
US military and subsequently the space traffic and maintain safe separation of aircraft.
programmes. Inertial navigation systems (INS) The ATC system is based on secondary
were introduced into commercial aircraft service surveillance radar (SSR). Ground controllers use
during the early I 970s. The system is able to the system to address individual aircraft. An
compute navigation data such as present position, emerging ATC technology is ADS-B, this is also
distance to waypoint, heading, ground speed, covered in Chapter 21.
wind speed, wind direction etc. The system does With ever increasing air traffic congestion, and
not need radio navigation inputs and it does not the subsequent demands on air traffic control
transmit radio frequencies. Being self-contained, (ATC) resources, the risk of a mid-air collision
the system can be used for long distance increases. The need for improved traffic flow led
navigation over oceans and undeveloped areas of to the introduction of the traffic alert and collision
the globe. avoidance system (TCAS); this is the subject of
xiv Preface

Chapter 22. TCAS is an automatic surveillance

system that helps aircrews and ATC to maintain
Online resources
safe separation of aircraft. TCAS is an airborne
system based on secondary radar that interrogates Additional supporting material (including video
and replies directly with aircraft via a high- clips, sound bites and image galleries) for this
integrity data link. The system is functionally book are available at or
independent of ground stations, and alerts the
crew if another aircraft comes within a
predetermined time to a potential collision.
The book concludes with four useful
appendices, including a comprehensive list of
abbreviations and acronyms used with aircraft
communications and navigation systems.
The review questions at the end of each chapter
are typical of these used in CAA and other
examinations. Further examination practice can
be gained from the four revision papers given in
Appendix 2. Other features that will be
particularly useful if you are an independent
learner are the key points and test your
understanding questions interspersed throughout
the text.

The authors would like to thank the following
persons and organisations for permission to
reproduce photographs and data in this book:
Lees Avionics and Wycombe Air Centre for
product/cockpit images; Trevor Diamond for the
ADF, VOR and DME photographs; CMC
Electronics for data and photographs of Doppler
and MLS hardware; the International Loran
Association (ILA) and US Coast Guard for
information and data on both the existing Loran-
C infrastructure and their insight into future
developments; Kearfott (Guidance & Navigation
Corporation) and Northrop Grumman
Corporation for permission to reproduce data on
their inertial navigation systems and sensors;
ARINC for information relating to TCAS; ADS-
B Technologies, LLC for their permission to
reproduce data on automatic dependent
surveillance-broadcast. Finally, thanks also go to
Alex Hollingsworth, Lucy Potter and Jonathan
Simpson at Elsevier for their patience,
encouragement and support.
Chapter i

Maxwell first suggested the existence of 1.1 The radio frequency spectrum
electromagnetic waves in 1864. Later, Heinrich
Rudolf Hertz used an arrangement of rudimentary Radio frequency signals are generally understood
resonators to demonstrate the existence of to occupy a frequency range that extends fiom a
electromagnetic waves. Hertzs apparatus was few tens of kilohertz (kHz) to several hundred
extremely simple and comprised two resonant gigahertz (GHz) The lowest part of the radio
loops, one for transmitting and the other for frequency range that is of practical use (below 30
receiving. Each loop acted both as a tuned circuit kHz) is only suitable for narrow-band
and as a resonant antenna (or aerial). communication At this fiequency, signals
Hertzs transmitting loop was excited by means piopagate as ground waves (following the
of an induction coil and battery. Some of the curvature of the earth) over very long distances
energy radiated by the transmitting loop was At the other extreme, the highest frequency range
intercepted by the receiving loop and the received that is of practical importance extends above 30
energy was conveyed to a spark gap where it GHz At these microwave frequencies,
could be released as an arc. The energy radiated considerable bandwidths are available (sufficient
by the transmitting loop was in the form of an to transmit many television channels using point-
electromagnetic wavea wave that has both to-point links or to pennit very high definition
electric and magnetic field components and that radar systems) and signals tend to propagate
travels at the speed of light. strictly along line-of-sight paths
In 1 894, Marconi demonstrated the commercial At other frequencies signals may propagate by
potential of the phenomenon that Maxwell various means including reflection from ionised
predicted and Hertz actually used in his layers in the ionosphere At frequencies between
apparatus. It was also Marconi that made radio a 3 MHz and 30 MHz ionospheric propagation
reality by pioneering the development of regularly peimits intercontinental broadcasting
telegraphy without wires (i.e. wireless). and communications
Marconi was able to demonstrate very effectively For convenience, the iadio frequency spectrum
that information could be exchanged between is divided into a number of bands (see Table 1 1),
distant locations without the need for a land- each spanning a decade of frequency The use to
line. which each fiequency iange is put depends upon
Marconis system of wireless telegraphy a numbei of factors, paramount amongst which is
proved to be invaluable for maritime the propagation characteristics within the band
communications (ship to ship and ship to shore) concerned
and was to be instrumental in saving many lives. Othei factors that need to be taken into account
The military applications of radio were first include the efficiency of piactical aerial systems
exploited during the First World War (1914 to in the range concerned and the bandwidth
1918) and, during that period, radio was first used available It is also worth noting that, although it
in aircraft. may appear from Figure 1 1 that a great deal of
This first chapter has been designed to set the the radio frequency spectrum is not used, it
scene and to provide you with an introduction to should be stressed that competition for frequency
the principles of radio communication systems. space is fierce and there is, in fact, little vacant
The various topics are developed more fully in space1 Frequency allocations are, therefore,
the later chapters but the information provided ratified by international agreement and the
here is designed to provide you with a starting various user services carefUlly safeguard their
point for the theory that follows. own aieas of the spectrum
2 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


Satellite TV
10GHz Weather radar
5HF Microwave point-point and radar

Microwave tanding system

Wireless netwcrk satellite communications
Global positoning system (GP5)
0Hz 30 cm Cellular radio (mobile phones) Distance measutng equipment (DME)
Band IV and V TV
Glideslope receivers
VHF communications
100 MHz 3m Band II FM radio VHF omnirange (VOR)
VHF Instrument landing system (ILS) markers
Short wave (SW) broadcast bands:
BandlTV I3mband
16 m band HF communication bands:
19 m band 17 MHz band
21 m band 15MHz band
10 MHz 25 m band l3MHzband
HF 31 mband 11MHz band
41 m band 8MHzband
49m band
60 m band S M Hz band
75 m band ~ 3MHzband

1 MHz
MF Medium wave (MW) radio

Non-directional beacons (NOB)

LF 100 kHz 3000 m

Figure 1.1 Some examples of frequency allocations within the radio frequency spectrum

Table 1.1 Frequency bands

Frequency range Wavelength Designation

300 Hz to 3 kHz 1000 km to 100 km Extremely low frequency (ELF)

3 kHz to 30 kHz 100 km to 10 km Very low frequency (VLF)
30 kflz to 300 kflz 10 km to I km Low frequency (LF)
300 kHzto 3 MHz I kmto 100 m Medium frequency(MF)
3 MHz to 30 MHz lOOm to 10 m High frequency (HF)
30 MHz to 300 MHz 10 m to I m Very high frequency (VHF)
300 MHz to 3 GHz I eli to 10 cm Ultra high frequency (UHF)
3 GHz to 30 0Hz 10 cm to 1 cm Super high frequency (SHF)
1.2 Electromagnetic waves Radiated F-field

As with light, radio waves propagate outwards

from a source of energy (transmitter) and
comprise electric (B) and magnetic (H) fields at
right angles to one another. These two
components, the B-field and the H-field, are
inseparable. The resulting wave travels away
from the source with the B and H lines mutually
at right angles to the direction of propagation, as
shown in Figure 1.2.
Radio waves are said to be polarised in the
plane of the electric (B) field. Thus, if the B-field
is vertical, the signal is said to he vertically Receiver
polarised whereas, if the B-field is horizontal, the
signal is said to be horizontally polarised.
Figure 1.3 shows the electric B-field lines in
the space between a transmitter and a receiver.
The transmitter aerial (a simple dipole, see page
16) is supplied with a high frequency altemating Figure 1.3 Electric field pattern in the near
current. This gives rise to an alternating electric field region between a transmitter and a
field between the ends of the aerial and an receiver (the magnetic field has not been
alternating magnetic field around (and at right shown but is perpendicular to the electric
angles to) it. field)
The direction of the B-field lines is reversed on
each cycle of the signal as the wavefront moves
spreading out in a spherical pattern (this is known
outwards from the source. The receiving aerial more correctly as the near field). In practice there
intercepts the moving field and voltage and will be some considerable distance between the
current is induced in it as a consequence. This
transmitter and the receiver and so the wave that
voltage and current is similar (but of smaller
reaches the receiving antenna will have a plane
amplitude) to that produced by the transmitter.
wavefront. In this far field region the angular
Note that in Figure 1.3 (where the transmitter
field distribution is essentially independent of the
and receiver are close together) the field is shown
distance from the transmitting antenna.

Electric field lines

Source of
radiated energy

Direction of

Magnetic field lines H-field

Velocity of propagation = 3 x108 rn/s

Figure 1.2 An electromagnetic wave

4 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1.3 Frequency and wavelength Example 1,3.3

If the wavelength of a 30 MHz signal in a cable is
Radio waves propagate in an (or space) at the 8 m, determine the velocity of propagation of the
speed of light (300 million metres per second) wave in the cable.
The velocity of propagation, v, wavelength, .1, and
frequency, f~ of a radio wave are related by the Solution
Using the formula v=fX where v is
. the
v=f23x108 rn/s velocity of propagation in the cable, gives:

This equation can be arranged to makef or )~ the v=fA=30x106X8 m= 240x106 =2.4x108m/s

subject, as follows
3 xl om 3x108
Hz and 2= m
Test your understanding 1.1

2 I
As an example, a signal at a frequency of 1 M1-lz An HF communications signal has a frequency of
will have a wavelength of 300 in whereas a signal 25.674 MHz. Determine the wavelength of the
at a frequency of 10 MHz will have a wavelength signal.
of 30 m
When a radio wave tiavels in a cable (rather
than in air or free space) it usually travels at a
speed that is between 60% and 80% of that of the Test your understanding 1.2
speed of light
A VHF communications link operates at a
wavelength of 1.2 m. Determine the frequency at
Example 1.3.1 which the link operates.
Determine the frequency of a radio signal that has
a wavelength of 15 in
1 4 The atmosphere
= ~ x108 The earths atmosphere (see Figure 1.4) can be
Here we will use the formula ~ Hz
divided into five concentric regions having
Putting )~ = 15 m gives boundaries that are not clearly defined. These
layers, starting with the layer nearest the earths
f 3x10 300xlO surface, are known as the troposphere,
20 106 Hz or2OMHz stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and
15 15
The boundary between the troposphere and the
Example 1.3.2 stratosphere is known as the tropopause and this
region varies in height above the earths surface
Determine the wavelength of a radio signal that from about 7.5 km at the poles to 18 km at the
has a frequency of 150 MHz equator. An average value for the height of the
tropopause is around 11 km or 36,000 feet (about
3 xl om the same as the cruising height for most
In this case we will use 2 in
international passenger aircraft).
The thermosphere and the upper parts of the
Puttingfr 150 MHz gives: mesosphere are often referred to as the
ionosphere and it is this region that has a major
3x106 3x108 300x106
2 - ___ =2m role to play in the long distance propagation of
f = 150x106 150x106 radio waves, as we shall see later.
Introduction 5

The lowest part of the earths atmosphere is 1.5 Radio wave propagation
called the troposphere and it extends from the
surface up to about 10 km (6 miles). The Depending on a number of complex factors, radio
atmosphere above 10 km is called the waves can propagate through the atmosphere in
stratosphere, followed by the mesosphere. It is in various ways, as shown in Figure 1.5. These
the stratosphere that incoming solar radiation include:
creates the ozone layer.
ground waves
o ionospheric waves
space waves
o tropospheric waves.
As their name suggests, ground waves (or
surface waves) travel close to the surface of the
earth and propagate for relatively short distances
at HF and VHF but for much greater distances at
MF and LF. For example, at 100 kHz the range of
a ground wave might be in excess of 500 km,
whilst at 1 MHz (using the same radiated power)
the range might be no more than 150 km and at
10 MHz no more than about 15 km. Ground
waves have two basic components; a direct wave
and a ground reflected wave (as shown in Figure
Figure 1.4 Zones of the atmosphere 1.6). The direct path is that which exists on a

4 Scatter ~0


- _~Tropospheric path~

Ground wave

Transmitting antenna Receiving antenna

Figure 1.5 Radio wave propagation through the atmosphere

6 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Transmitting antenna Receiving antenna

size of the obstruction or discontinuity. Four
Direct path

different effects can occur (see Figure 1.7) and
they are known as:
into the ground
o refraction
o diffraction
Figure 1.6 Constituents of a ground wave scattering.
Reflection occurs when a plane wave meets a
line-of-sight (LOS) basis between the transmitter plane object that is large relative to the
and receiver. An example of the use of a direct wavelength of the signal. In such cases the wave
path is that which is used by terrestrial is reflected back with minimal distortion and
microwave repeater stations which are typically without any change in velocity. The effect is
spaced 20 to 30 km apart on a line-of-sight basis. similar to the reflection of a beam of light when it
Another example of the direct path is that used arrives at a mirrored surface.
for satellite TV reception. In order to receive Refraction occurs when a wave moves from
signals from the satellite the receiving antenna one medium into another in which it travels at a
must be able to see the satellite. In this case, and different speed. For example, when moving from
since the wave travels largely undeviated through a more dense to a less dense medium the wave is
the atmosphere, the direct wave is often referred bent away from the normal (i.e. an imaginary line
to as a space wave. Such waves travel over LOS constructed at right angles to the boundary).
paths at VHF, UHF and beyond. Conversely, when moving from a less dense to a
As shown in Figure 1.6, signals can arrive at a more dense medium, a wave will bend towards
receiving antenna by both the direct path and by the normal. The effect is similar to that
means of reflection from the ground. Ground experienced by a beam of light when it
reflection depends very much on the quality of encounters a glass prism.
the ground with sandy soils being a poor reflector Diffraction occurs when a wave meets an edge
of radio signals and flat marshy ground being an (i.e. a sudden impenetrable surface discontinuity)
excellent reflecting surface. Note that a which has dimensions that are large relative to the
proportion of the incident radio signal is absorbed wavelength of the signal. In such cases the wave
into the ground and not all of it is usefully is bent so that it follows the profile of the
reflected. An example of the use of a mixture of discontinuity. Diffraction occurs more readily at
direct path and ground (or building) reflected lower frequencies (typically VHF and below). An
radio signals is the reception of FM broadcast example of diffraction is the bending experienced
signals in a car. It is also worth mentioning that, by VHF broadcast signals when they encounter a
in many cases, the reflected signals can be sharply defined mountain ridge. Such signals can
stronger than the direct path (or the direct path be received at some distance beyond the knife
may not exist at all if the car happens to be in a edge even though they are well beyond the
heavily built-up area). normal LOS range.
Ionospheric waves (or sky waves) can travel Scattering occurs when a wave encounters one
for long distances at MF, HF and exceptionally or more objects in its path having a size that is a
also at VHF under certain conditions. Such waves fraction of the wavelength of the signal. When a
are predominant at frequencies below VHF and wave encounters an obstruction of this type it will
we shall examine this phenomenon in greater become fragmented and re-radiated over a wide
detail a little later but before we do it is worth angle. Scattering occurs more readily at higher
describing what can happen when waves meet frequencies (typically VHF and above) and
certain types of discontinuity in the atmosphere or regularly occurs in the troposphere at UHF and
when they encounter a physical obstruction. In EHF.
both cases, the direction of travel can be Radio signals can also be directed upwards (by
significantly affected according to the nature and suitable choice of antenna) so that signals enter
Introduction 7




Figure 1.7 Various propagation effects

the troposphere or ionosphere. In the former case, 1.6 The ionosphere

signals can be become scattered (i.e. partially
dispersed) in the troposphere so that a small In 1924, Sir Edward Appleton was one of the first
proportion arrives back at the ground. to demonstrate the existence of a reflecting layer
Tropospheric scatter requires high power at a height of about 100 km (now called the E
transmitting equipment and high gain antennas layer). This was soon followed by the discovery
but is regularly used for transmission beyond the of another layer at around 250 km (now called the
horizon particularly where conditions in the F-layer). This was achieved by broadcasting a
troposphere (i.e. rapid changes of temperature and continuous signal from one site and receiving the
humidity with height) can support this mode of signal at a second site several miles away. By
communication. Tropospheric scatter of radio measuring the time difference between the signal
waves is analogous to the scattering of a light received along the ground and the signal reflected
beam (e.g. a torch or car headlights) when shone from the atmosphere (and knowing the velocity at
into a heavy fog or mist. which the radio wave propagates) it was possible
In addition to tropospheric scatter there is also to calculate the height of the atmospheric
tropospheric ducting (not shown in Figure 1.7) reflecting layer. Today, the standard technique for
in which radio signals can become trapped as a detecting the presence of ionised layers (and
result of the change of refractive index at a determining their height above the surface of the
boundary between air masses having different earth) is to transmit a very short pulse directed
temperature and humidity. Ducting usually occurs upwards into space and accurately measuring the
when a large mass of cold air is overrun by warm amplitude and time delay before the arrival back
air (this is referred to as a temperature inversion). on earth of the reflected pulses. This ionospheric
Although this condition may occur frequently in sounding is carried out over a range of
certain parts of the world, this mode of frequencies.
propagation is not very predictable and is The ionosphere provides us with a reasonably
therefore not used for any practical applications. predictable means of communicating over long
8 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

distances using HF radio signals. Much of the a single F-layer (see Figures 1.8 and 1.10).
short and long distance communications below 30 During daylight, a lower layer of ionisation
MHz depend on the bending or refraction of the known as the D-layer exists in proportion to the
transmitted wave in the earths ionosphere which suns height, peaking at local noon and largely
are regions of ionisation caused by the suns dissipating after sunset. This lower layer
ultraviolet radiation and lying about 60 to 200 primarily acts to absorb energy in the low end of
miles above the earths surface. the high frequency (HF) band. The F-layer
The useful regions of ionisation are the H-layer ionisation regions are primarily responsible for
(at about 70 miles in height for maximum long distance communication using sky waves at
ionisation) and the F-layer (lying at about 175 distances of up to several thousand km (greatly in
miles in height at night). During the daylight excess of those distances that can be achieved
hours, the F-layer splits into two distinguishable using VHF direct wave communication, see
parts: F1 (lying at a height of about 140 miles) Figure 1.9). The characteristics of the ionised
and F2 (lying at a height of about 200 miles). layers are summarised in Table 1.2 together with
After sunset the Fr and F2-layers recombine into their effect on radio waves.

Table 1.2 Ionospheric layers

Layer Height (km) Characteristics Effect on radio waves

D SOto9Skm Develops shortly after sunrise and Responsible for the absorption of radio
disappears shortly after sunset. Reaches waves at lower frequencies (e.g. below
maximum ionisation when the sun is at its 4 MHz) during daylight hours
highest point in the sky

E 95 to 150 km Develops shortly after sunrise and Reflects waves having frequencies less
disappears a few hours after sunset. The than 5 MHz but tends to absorb radio
maximum ionisation of this layer occurs at signals above this frequency
around midday

Es 80 to 120 km An intense region of ionisation that Highly reflective at frequencies above

sometimes appears in the summer months 30 MHz and up to 300 MHz on some
(peaking in June and July). Usually lasts occasions. Of no practical use other
for only a few hours (often in the late than as a means of long distance VHF
morning and recurring in the early evening communication for radio amateurs
of the same day)

F 250 to 450 km Appears a few hours after sunset, when Reflects radio waves up to 20 MHz and
the Fr and Frlayers (see below) merge to occasionally up to 25 MHz
form a single layer

F1 150 to 200 km Occurs during daylight hours with Reflects radio waves in the low HF
maximum ionisation reached at around spectrum up to about 10 MHz
midday. The F,-layer merges with the
F2-layer shortly after sunset

F2 250 to 450 km Develops just before sunrise as the F-layer capable of reflecting radio waves in the
begins to divide. Maximum ionisation of the upper HF spectrum with frequencies of
F2-layer is usually reached one hour after up to 30 MHz and beyond during
sunrise and it typically remains at this level periods of intense solar activity (i.e. at
until shortly after sunset. The intensity of the peak of each 11-year sunspot cycle)
ionisation varies greatly according to the
time of day and season and is also greatly
affected by solar activity -
Introduction 9




200 F,layer

100 Elayer



to Cii -~ to (ii -~ to Cii to Cii -~ to Cs -~
0 0 00 0
b bP 000 0 0 -
0 0
~o 0 0
0 0 00 o o -
0 0 0 0
Electron density (cm3)

Figure 1.8 Typical variation of electron density versus height (note the use of logarithmic
scales for both height and electron density)

- --

- --


Figure 1.9 Effect of ionised layers on radio signals at various frequencies

10 Aircraft communications and navigation systems








summer day Winter day Night

Figure 1.10 Position of lonised layers at day and night

1.7 MUF and LUF Fortunately, the attenuation experienced by lower

frequencies travelling in the ionosphere is much
The maximum usable frequency (MUF) is the reduced at night and this makes it possible to use
highest frequency that will allow communication the lower frequencies required for effective
over a given path at a particular time and on a communication. The important fact to remember
particular date. MUF varies considerably with the from this is simply that, for a given path, the
amount of solar activity and is basically a frequency used at night is about half that used for
flinction of the height and intensity of the F-layer. daytime communication.
During a period of intense solar activity the MUF The lowest usable frequency (LUF) is the
can exceed 30 MHz during daylight hours but is lowest frequency that will support
often around 16 to 20 MHz by day and around 8 communication over a given path at a particular
to 10 MHz by night. time and on a particular date. LUF is dependent
The variation of MUF over a 24-hour period on the amount of absorption experienced by a
for the London to New York path is shown in radio wave. This absorption is worse when the D
Figure 1.11. A similar plot for the summer layer is most intense (i.e. during daylight). Hence,
months would be flatter with a more gradual as with MUF, the LUF rises during the day and
increase in MUF at dawn and a more gradual falls during the night. A typical value of LUF is 4
decline at dusk. to 6 MHz during the day, falling rapidly at sunset
The reason for the significant variation of MUF to 2 MHz.
over any 24-hour period is that the intensity of The frequency chosen for HF communication
ionisation in the upper atmosphere is significantly must therefore be somewhere above the LUF and
reduced at night and, as a consequence, lower below the MUF for a given path, day and time. A
frequencies have to be used to produce the same typical example might be a working frequency of
amount of refractive bending and also to give the 5 MHz at a time when the MUF is 10 MHz and
same critical angle and skip distance as by day. the LUF is 2 MHz.
Introduction 11

N 25
C 20
a) 15
a 10

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 i8 20 22 24
Time (UTC)

Figure 1.11 Variation of MUF with time for LondonNew York on 16th October 2006


7MHz fnur 14 MHz

500 miIes_~j

(a) (b) (c)



Figure 1.12 Effect of angle of attack on range and MUF

Figure 1.12 shows the typical MUF for various The relationship between the critical frequency,
angles of attack together with the corresponding .fcrit., and electron density, N, is given by:
working ranges. This diagram assumes a critical
frequency of 5 MHz. This is the lowest .fcr~9><10 x N
frequency that would be returned from the where N is the electron density expressed in cm3.
ionosphere using a path of vertical incidence (see The angle of attack, a, is the angle of the
ionospheric sounding on page 7). transmitted wave relative to the horizon.
12 Aircraft communications and navigation aystems

The relationship between the MUF, fm0~, the 1.8 Silent zone and skip distance
critical frequency, ~ and the angle of attack, a,
is given by: The silent zone is simply the region that exists
between the extent of the coverage of the ground
i~. wave signal and the point at which the sky wave
sin a returns to earth (see Figure 1.13). Note also that,
depending on local topography and soil
Example 1.8.1 characteristics, when a signal returns to earth
from the ionosphere it is sometimes possible for it
Given that the electron density in the ionosphere
to experience a reflection from the ground, as
is 5 x io~ electrons per cm3, determine the critical shown in Figure 1.13. The onward reflected
frequency and the MUF for an angle of attack of signal will suffer attenuation but in sonic
circumstances may be sufficient to provide a
Now using the relationship Jrjt. = 9 x W~3 x 1N further hop and an approximate doubling of the
gives: working range. The condition is known as multi-
hop propagation.
~ The skip distance is simply the distance
f between the point at which the sky wave is
The MUF can now be calculated using: radiated and the point at which it returns to earth
(see Figure 1.14).
= 6.364 = 6.364 Note that where signals are received
= Lri~
= 24.57 MHz
sin 15 a
sin a .
0.259 simultaneously by ground wave and sky wave
paths, the signals will combine both
constructively and destructively due to the
Test your understanding 1.3 different paths lengths and this, in turn, will
produce an effect known as fading. This effect
Determine the electron density in the can often be heard during the early evening on
ionosphere when the MUF is 18 MHz for a medium wave radio signals as the D-layer
critical angle of 20. weakens and sky waves first begin to appear.

Figure 1.13 Silent zone and skip distance

Introduction 13

Table 1.3 See Test your understanding 1.4

Time(UTC) 13 14 15 16 17 1819 20 21 22 23 24

MUF 18.1 18.1 17,9 17.7 172 16.5 15.6 14.2 12.7 11.5 10.6 9.7

Test your understanding 1.4 4. The height of the E-layer is approximately:

(a) 100 km
Table 1.3 shows corresponding values of time and (h) 200 km
maximum usable frequency (MUF) for London to (c) 400 km.
Lisbon on 28th August 2006. Plot a graph
showing the variation of MUF with time and 5. When a large mass of cold air is overrun by
explain the shape of the graph. warm air the temperature inversion produced
will often result in:
(a) ionospheric reflection
(b) stratospheric refraction
Test your understanding 1.5 (c) tropospheric ducting.
Explain the following terms in relation to HF radio 6. Ionospheric sounding is used to determine:
(a) the maximum distance that a ground wave
(a) silent zone will travel
(b) skip distance (b) the presence of temperature inversions in
(c) multi-hop propagation. the upper atmosphere
(c) the critical angle and maxinmm usable
frequency for a given path.
1.9 Multiple choice questions 7. The critical frequency is directly proportional
1. A transmitted radio wave will have a plane to:
wavefront: (a) the electron density
(a) in the near field (b) the square of the electron density
(b) in the far field (c) the square root of the electron density.
(c) close to the antenna.
8. The MF range extends from:
2. The lowest layer in the earths atmosphere is: (a) 300 kHz to 3 Ml-lz
(a) the ionosphere (b) 3 MHz to 30 MHz
(b) the stratosphere (c) 30 MHz to 300 MHz.
(c) the troposphere.
9. A radio wave has a frequency of 15 MHz.
3. A radio wave at 115 kHz is most likely to Which one of the following gives the
propagate as: wavelength of the wave?
(a) a ground wave (a) 2 m
(b) a sky wave (b) 15 m
(c) a space wave. (c) 20 m.
14 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

10. Which one of the following gives the velocity 18.The Fr and F2-layers combine:
at which a radio wave propagates? (a) only at about mid-day
(a) 300 ni/s (b) during the day
(b)3 x 108 rn/s (c) during the night.
(c) 3 million rn/s.
l9.The path of a VHF or UHF radio wave can be
11. The main cause of ionisation in the upper bent by a sharply defined obstruction such as a
atmosphere is: building or a mountain top. This phenomenon
(a) solar radiation is known as:
(b) ozone (a) ducting
(c) currents of warm air. (b) reflection
(c) diffraction.
12,The F2-layer is:
(a) higher at the equator than at the poles 20.Radio waves at HF can be subject to
(b) lower at the equator than at the poles reflections in ionised regions of the upper
(c) the same height at the equator as at the atmosphere. This phenomenon is known as:
poles. (a) ionospheric reflection
(b) tropospheric scatter
l3.The free-space path loss experienced by a (c) atmospheric ducting.
radio wave:
(a) increases the frequency but decreases with 21. Radio waves at UHF can sometimes be
distance subject to dispersion over a wide angle in
(b) decreases with frequency but increases regions of humid air in the atmosphere. This
with distance phenomenon is known as:
(c) increases with both frequency and (a) ionospheric reflection
distance. (b) tropospheric scatter
(c) atmospheric ducting.
14.For a given HF radio path, the MUF changes
most rapidly at: 22.Radio waves at VHF and UHF can sometimes
(a) mid-day propagate for long distances in the lower
(b) mid-night atmosphere due to the presence of a
(c) dawn and dusk. temperature inversion. This phenomenon is
known as:
l5.Radio waves tend to propagate mainly as line- (a) ionospheric reflection
of-sight signals in the: (b) tropospheric scatter
(a) MF band (c) atmospheric ducting.
(b) HF band
(c) VHF band. 23.The layer in the atmosphere that is mainly
responsible for the absorption of MF radio
16.In the HF band radio waves tend to propagate waves during the day is:
over long distances as: (a) the D-layer
(a) ground waves (b) the F-layer
(b) space waves (c) the F-layer.
(c) ionospheric waves.
24.The layer in the atmosphere that is mainly
l7.The maximum distance that can be achieved responsible for the reflection of HF radio
from a single-hop reflection from the F-layer waves during the day is:
is in the region: (a) the D-layer
(a) 500 to 2,000 km (b) the E-layer
(b) 2,000 to 3,500 km (c) the F-layer.
(c) 3,500 to 5,000 km.
Chapter Antennas

It may not be apparent from an inspection of the 2.1 The isotropic radiator
external profile of an aircraft that most large
aircraft carry several dozen antennas of different The most fundamental form of antenna (which
types. To illustrate this point, Figure 2.1 shows cannot be realised in practice) is the isotropic
just a few of the antennas carried by a Boeing radiator. This theoretical type of antenna is often
757. What should be apparent from this is that used for comparison purposes and as a reference
many of the antennas are of the low profile when calculating the gain and directional
variety which is essential to reduce drag. characteristics of a real antenna.
Antennas are used both for transmission and Isotropic antennas radiate uniformly in all
reception. A transmitting antenna converts the directions. In other words, when placed at the
high frequency electrical energy supplied to it centre of a sphere such an antenna would
into electromagnetic energy which is launched or illuminate the internal surface of the sphere
radiated into the space surrounding the antenna. uniformly as shown in Figure 2.2(a). All practical
A receiving antenna captures the electromagnetic antennas have directional characteristics as
energy in the surrounding space and converts this illustrated in Figure 2.2(b). Furthermore, such
into high frequency electrical energy which is characteristics may be more or less pronounced
then passed on to the receiving system. The law according to the antennas application. We shall
of reciprocity indicates that an antenna will have look at antenna gain and directivity in more detail
the same gain and directional properties when later on but before we do that we shall introduce
used for transmission as it does when used for you to some common types of antenna.


Figure 2.1 Some of the antennas fitted to a Boeing 757 aircraft. 1, VOR; 2, HF comms.; 3,5
and 6, VHF comma.; 4, ADF; 7, TCAS (upper); 8, weather radar
16 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Area illuminated
(entire surface of sphere)
Dipole element



Figure 2.3 A half-wave dipole antenna

(a) Isotropic radiator

mm. max.
.4 Voltage
Area illuminated, A



Maximum radiation

flax. mm.
(b) Directional antenna

Figure 2.2 The directional characteristics of Figure 2.4 Voltage and current distribution
isotropic radiators and directional antennas in the half-wave dipole antenna

2.2 The half-wave dipole The length of the antenna (from end to end) is
equal to one half wavelength, hence:
The half-wave dipole is one of the most 2
ffindamental types of antenna. The half-wave 1=
dipole antenna (Figure 2.3) consists of a single 2
conductor having a length equal to one-half of the Now since v =fxA we can conclude that, for a
length of the wave being transmitted or received. half-wave dipole:
The conductor is then split in the centre to enable V
connection to the feeder. In practice, because of 1=
the capacitance effects between the ends of the
antenna and ground, the antenna is cut a Note that I is the electrical length of the antenna
little shorter than a half wavelength. rather than its actual physical length. End effects,
Antennas 17

Fda Edit View Options Reset

Fire Edit View Options Reset
Total Field 0 uS EZNC Demo
Highlight1 EZNEC Demo
C flit
r Azimuth Slice
ct Elsa Slice
0 360
(~. ~JJZZJZti

AZitRdh 0101
- (tisoor Az
299.793 lilt
0.0 do0.
Slice Animulh
Elevation Angle 0.0 dog.
Otter Ring 2.16 dOT
Gain 2.16 sIDI -H
0.0 dinilax
Site Mao Gail 2.16 dOT @ AZ Anglo = 0.0 dog
Frordilide 999940
Oeamwidlh 77.4 deco.; -3dB @321.3. 30.7 dog. -180
Sidelobe Gail 2,16 SIBi 99 Az Angie = 1600 460
Frord,Sidelote 0.040 (wool Elea

P Show 20 Plot

Figure 2.5 E-field polar radiation pattern for

a half-wave dipole

Figure 2.7 3D polar radiation pattern for a

fl,c~ half-wave dipole (note the doughnut shape)
Edo Edit Yew Opb3no Rowe
Total Field EZNEC Doing

implies that the impedance is not constant along

the length of aerial but varies from a maximum at
the ends (maximum voltage, minimum current)
to a minimum at the centre.
The dipole antenna has directional properties
299.793 halo illustrated in Figures 2.5 to 2.7. Figure 2.5 shows
Aziai.dh Plot
Elevation Angle 0,0 dog.
(tenor Az
315.0 dog.
1 42499
the radiation pattern of the antenna in the plane
Onderining 1.64dG -O22doioao of the antennas electric field (i.e. the E-field
Sloe Mao Gail 1.6449999 AZ Angle los_U dog. plane) whilst Figure 2.6 shows the radiation
F,oeilioaok 0.0240
ooaeatetlh 7 pattern in the plane of the antennas magnetic
Sidolobe Gail 1.64 dOT 99 Az Angie 354.0 dog
FrooelSdelote 0.040 field (i.e. the H-field plane).
The 3D plot shown in Figure 2.7 combines
these two plots into a single doughnut shape.
Figure 2.6 H-field polar radiation pattern for Things to note from these three diagrams are
a half-wave dipole that:
in the case of Figure 2.5 minimum radiation
occurs along the axis of the antenna whilst the
or capacitance effects at the ends of the antenna
two zones of maximum radiation are at 900
require that we reduce the actual length of the
(i.e. are normal to) the dipole elements
aerial and a 5% reduction in length is typically o in the case of Figure 2.6 the antenna radiates
required for an aerial to be resonant at the centre
uniformly in all directions.
of its designed tuning range.
Figure 2.4 shows the distribution of current 1-lence, a vertical dipole will have omni
and voltage along the length of a half-wave directional characteristics whilst a horizontal
dipole aerial. The current is maximum at the dipole will have a hi-directional radiation
centre and zero at the ends. The voltage is zero at pattern. This is an important point as we shall see
the centre and maximum at the ends. This later.
18 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Example 2.1 Radiating element

Determine the length of a half-wave dipole

antenna for use at a frequency of 150 MHz.

The length of a half-wave dipole for 150 MHz

can be determined from: Feeder __________

where v = 3 x io~ mis andf 150 x 106 Hz.
v 3x108 3x108 3x106
= = =Im Figure 2.8 Radiation resistance
2f 2x150x106 300x106 3x106
DC resistance, Rdc.

Test your understanding 2.1

Determine the length of a half-wave dipole for vout
frequencies of (a) 121 MHz and (b) 11.25 MHz. resistance, Ar

0ff-tune reactance, X
2.3 Impedance and radiation
resistance Figure 2.9 Equivalent circuit of an antenna
Because voltage and current appear in an antenna
(a minute voltage and current in the case of a and capacitance). In this case X is negligible
receiving antenna and a much larger voltage and compared with 1?. It is also worth noting that the
current in the case of a transmitting antenna) an DC resistance (or ohmic resistance) of an
aerial is said to have impedance. Here its worth antenna is usually very small in comparison with
remembering that impedance is a mixture of its impedance and so it may be ignored. Ignoring
resistance, R, and reactance, X, both measured in the DC resistance of the antenna, the impedance
ohms (Q). Of these two quantities, X varies with of an antenna may be regarded as its radiation
frequency whilst R remains constant. This is an resistance, Rr (see Figure 2.8).
important concept because it explains why Radiation resistance is important because it is
antennas are often designed for operation over a through this resistance that electrical power is
restricted range of frequencies. transformed into radiated electromagnetic energy
The impedance, Z, of an aerial is the ratio of (in the case of a transmitting antenna) and
the voltage, E, across its terminals to the current, incident electromagnetic energy is transformed
I, flowing in it. Hence: into electrical power (in the case of a receiving
The equivalent circuit of an antenna is shown
I in Figure 2.9. The three series-connected
You might infer from Figure 2.7 that the components that make up the antennas
impedance at the centre of the half-wave dipole impedance are:
should be zero. In practice the impedance is
usually between 70 1 and 75 2. Furthermore, at the DC resistance, Rd~,
resonance the impedance is purely resistive and the radiation resistance, Rr
contains no reactive component (i.e. inductance the off-tune reactance, X.
Antennas 19

Note that when the antenna is operated at a Example 2.2

frequency that lies in the centre of its pass-band
(i.e. when it is on-tune) the off-tune reactance is An HF transmitting antenna has a radiation
zero. It is also worth bearing in mind that the resistance of 12 12. If a current of 0.5 A is
radiation resistance of a half-wave dipole varies supplied to it, determine the radiated power.
according to its height above ground. The 70 Q
to 75 12 impedance normally associated with a Now:
half-wave dipole is only realized when the P~
_j2 x Rr (0.5)2x 12 = 0.25 x 12=4W
antenna is mounted at an elevation of 0.2
wavelengths, or more. Example 2.3
if the aerial in Example 2.2 has a DC resistance
of 2 12, determine the power loss and the radiation
Test your understanding 2.2 efficiency of the antenna.

A half-wave dipole is operated at its centre From the equivalent circuit shown in Figure 2.9,
frequency (zero off-tune reactance). If the antenna the same current flows in the DC resistance, Rdc,
has a total DC loss resistance of 2.5 ~2 and is as flows in the antennas radiation resistance, Rr.
supplied with a current of 2 A and a voltage of
25 V, determine: Hence I, = 0.5 A and Rd~ = 2W
(a) the radiation resistance of the antenna
(b) the power loss in the antenna. = j2
Since ~
x RdC

P0~, = (0.5)2 x 2 = 0.25 x 2 = 0.5 W

2.4 Radiated power and efficiency The radiation efficiency is given by:

In the case of a transmitting antenna, the radiated Radiation efficiency =

xl 00%
power, ~r, produced by the antenna is given by:

pj2j~ w = xlOO%=_-xjQO%=89%
40.5 4.5
where a is the antenna current, in amperes, and R~ In this example, more than 10% of the power
is the radiation resistance in ohms. In most output is actually wasted! It is also worth noting
practical applications it is important to ensure that that in order to ensure a high value of radiation
~r is maximised and this is achieved by ensuring efficiency, the loss resistance must be kept very
that R~ is much larger than the DC resistance of low in comparison with the radiation resistance.
the antenna elements.
The efficiency of an antenna is given by the
relationship: 2.5 Antenna gain
Radiation efficiency = xlOO%
+ I-loss The field strength produced by an antenna is
proportional to the amount of current flowing in
Where P1055 is the power dissipated in the DC it. However, since different types of antenna
resistance present. At this point it is worth stating produce different values of field strength for the
that whilst efficiency is vitally important in the same applied RF power level, we attribute a
case of a transmitting antenna it is generally power gain to the antenna. This power gain is
unimportant in the case of a receiving antenna. specified in relation to a reference antenna
This explains why a random length of wire can (often either a half-wave dipole or a theoretical
make a good receiving aerial but not a good isotropic radiator) and it is usually specified in
transmitting antenna! decibels (dB)see Appendix 2.
20 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

In order to distinguish between the two types of

referende antenna we use subscripts i and d to
denote isotropic and half-wave dipole reference (a) Light analogy
antennas respectively. As an example, an aerial
having a gain of 10 dB~ produces ten times power
gain when compared with a theoretical isotropic
radiator. Similarly, an antenna having a gain of
13 dBd produces twenty times power gain when
compared with a half-wave dipole. Putting this (b) Antenna configuration
another way, to maintain the same field strength
at a given point, you would have to apply 20 W to
a half-wave dipole or just I W to the antenna in
question! Some comparative values of antenna
gain are shown on page 28.
(c) Directional pattern

2 6 T~e~Yagi beam> ante~nna /

Originally invented by two Japanese engineers,

Yagi and Uda, the Yagi antenna has remained Figure 2.10 Dipole antenna light analogy
extremely popular in a wide variety of
applications and, in particular, for fixed domestic
FM radio and TV receiving aerials. In order to

explain in simple terms how the Yagi antenna
works we shall use a simple light analogy.
An ordinary filament lamp radiates light in all
directions. Just like an antenna, the lamp converts (a) Antenna configuration
electrical energy into electromagnetic energy. The
only real difference is that we can see the energy
that it produces!
The action of the filament lamp is comparable
with our thndamental dipole antenna. In the case
of the dipole, electromagnetic radiation will occur
all around the dipole elements (in three
dimensions the radiation pattern will take on a (b) Light analogy
doughnut shape). In the plane that we have shown N
in Figure 2.10(c), the directional pattern will be a N
figure-of-eight that has two lobes of equal size. In N
order to concentrate the radiation into just one of N
the radiation lobes we could simply place a
reflecting mirror on one side of the filament lamp.
The radiation will be reflected (during which the
reflected light will undergo a 180 phase change)
and this will reinforce the light on one side of the (c) Directional pattern
filament lamp. In order to achieve the same effect
in our antenna system we need to place a
conducting element about one quarter of a
wavelength behind the dipole element. This
element is referred to as a reflector and it is said Figure 2.11 Light analogy for a dipole and
to be parasitic (i.e. it is not actually connected to reflector
Antennas 21
the feeder). The reflector needs to be cut slightly Reflector
(driven element)

longer than the driven dipole element. The

resulting directional pattern will now only have
one major lobe because the energy radiated will
be concentrated into just one half of the figure-of-
eight pattern that we started with).
Continuing with our optical analogy, in order
to further concentrate the light energy into a Feeder

narrow beam we can add a lens in front of the
lamp. This will have the effect of bending the
light emerging from the lamp towards the normal
line (see Figure 2.12). In order to achieve the
same effect in our antenna system we need to 1A)2 IX12 lcX/2
place a conducting element, known as a director,
on the other side of the dipole and about one Figure 2.13 Athree-elementYagi antenna
quarter of a wavelength from it. Once again, this
element is parasitic but in this case it needs to be
cut slightly shorter than the driven dipole If desired, additional directors can be added to
element. The resulting directional pattern will farther increase the gain and reduce the
now have a narrower major lobe as the energy beamwidth (i.e. the angle between the half-
becomes concentrated in the normal direction (i.e. power or 3 dB power points on the polar
at right angles to the dipole elements). The characteristic) of Yagi aerials. Sonic comparative
resulting antenna is known as a three-element gain and beamwidth figures are shown on
Yagi aerial, see Figure 2.13. page 28.

(a)Antenna configuration

(b) Light analogy

(c) Directional pattern

Figure 2.12 Light analogy for a dipole,
reflector and director
Figure 2.14 A four-element Yagi antenna
(note how the dipole element has been
folded in order to increase its impedance
and provide a better match to the 50 ~2
feeder system)
22 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

An alternative to improving the gain but

maintaining a reasonably wide beamwidth is that
of stacking two antennas one above another (see
(a) Antenna confi~uration~_[_~_[_ Figure 2.20). Such an arrangement will usually
provide a 3 dB gain over a single antenna but will
have the same beamwidth. A disadvantage of
stacked arrangements is that they require accurate
phasing and matching arrangements.
As a rule of thumb, an increase in gain of 3 dB
can be produced each time the number of
(b) Light analogy elements is doubled. Thus a two-element antenna
will offer a gain of about 3 dBd, a four-element
antenna will produce 6 dBd, an eight-element
Yagi will realise 9 dBd, and so on.

Fda Edt View Options Reeet

TotgI Field EZIeC Demo

(c) oirectional pattern -~


Figure 2.15 Light analogy for the four-

element Yagi shown in Figure 2.14
289203 MHz
Azhn.dh PCI Curser Ax 0.0 dog.
Elevalion Anglo 0.0 deg. 0a3, 2,16 dEl
Ouler 06,0 2.16 dOl 0.0 donax
2.7 Directional characteristics Slice Max Gain 216 dEli @ AZ Mole 0.0 deg.
rrcrts6,e 09.90 dO
Beaewl6,h 774 deg~ -~ ~ 321.3, 38.7 dog.
Antenna gain is achieved at the expense of Seelobe Gain 2.10 de@Az Angie -160.0 dog.
FreeliSideicbe 00 dO
directional response. In other words, as the gain
of an antenna increases its radiation pattern
becomes more confined. In many cases this is a Figure 2.16 Polar plot for a horizontal dipole
desirable effect (e.g. in the case of fixed point
point communications). In other cases (e.g. a base ~2,I.Jrn~CTrnfl
station for use with a number of mobile stations) Fde Edt View Options Reset
~Total Fidel EZ5~C Demo
it is clearly undesirable. 0 dO

The directional characteristics of an antenna

are usually presented in the form of a polar
response graph. This diagram allows users to
determine directions in which maximum and
minimum gain can be achieved and allows the
antenna to be positioned for optimum effect. ~, : 289.793 MHZ

The polar diagram for a horizontal dipole is Azhnuth ace

Elevelion Angle 0.0 dog.
Cursor Ax
0.0 dee.
8.19 dEl
shown in Figure 2.16. Note that there are two Osdor Ring 6,10 dEli 0.0 ~max

major lobes in the response and two deep nulls. Sloe Mae Gain 8.19 dEl do Ax Angle- 00 dog.
rro-d,aacle 3521 dO
The antenna is thus said to be bi-directional. Oosmwielh 170.4 deg.; -3030 0,8 270.8, 69.2 deg.
Figure 2.17 shows the polar diagram for a Sidelebe Gall
-27.02 d0i Ax Angle 190.0 dog.
35.21 6,8
dipole plus reflector. The radiation from this
antenna is concentrated into a single major lobe
and there is a single null in the response at 1800 Figure 2.17 Polar plot for a two-element
to the direction of maximum radiation. Yag i
Antennas 23

Test your understanding 2.3

Identify the antenna shown in Figure 2.19. Sketch
a typical horizontal radiation pattern for this

Test your understanding 2.4

Identify the antenna shown in Figure 2.20. Sketch
a typical horizontal radiation pattern for this
Figure 2.19 See Test your understanding 2.3

Test your understanding 2.5

Figure 2.18 shows the polar response of a Yagi
beam antenna (the gain has been specified
relative to a standard reference dipole). Use the
polar plot to determine:
(a) the gain of the antenna
(b) the beamwidth of the antenna
(c) the size and position of any side lobes
(d) the front-to-back ratio (i.e. the size of the
major lobe in comparison to the response of
the antenna at 180 to it).

270 90

Scale: 1 dB per division 180

Figure 2.18 Polar diagram for a Yagi beam

antenna (see Test your understanding 2.5) Figure 2.20 See Test your understanding 2.4
24 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

2 8 Other practical antennas

Radiating element
Many practical forms of antenna are used in
aircraft and aviation-related applications. The X14
following are some of the most common types
(several other antennas will be introduced in later

2.8.1 Vertical quarter-wave antennas

One of the most simple antennas to construct is
the quarter-wave antenna (also known as a
Marconi antenna). Such antennas produce an
Radiate (4 off)

omnidirectional radiation pattern in the horizontal 50 c~ coaxial feeder

plane and radiate vertically polarised signals.
Practical quarter-wave antennas can be produced Figure 2.21 Quarter wave vertical antenna
for the high-HF and VHF bands but their length is
prohibitive for use on the low-HF and LF bands.
In order to produce a reasonably flat radiation
pattern (and prevent maximum radiation being Radiating element
directed upwards into space) it is essential to
incorporate an effective ground plane. At VHF, ~J4
this can be achieved using just four quarter-wave
radial elements at 90 to the vertical radiating
element (see Figure 2.21). All four radials are
grounded at the feed-point to the outer screen of
the coaxial feeder cable.
A slight improvement on the arrangement in
Figure 2.21 can be achieved by sloping the radial
elements at about 45 (see Figure 2.22). This
arrangement produces a flatter radiation pattem. Radiate (4 off)
At HF rather than VHF, the ground plane can a coaxial feeder
be the earth itself. However, to reduce the earth
resistance and increase the efficiency of the Figure 2,22 Quarter wave vertical antenna
antenna, it is usually necessary to incorporate with sloping radials
some buried earth radials (see Figure 2.23). These
radial wires simply consist of quarter-wave
lengths of insulated stranded copper wire between the low-impedance coaxial feeder and
grounded to the outer screen of the coaxial feeder the end of the antenna. Such an arrangement is
at the antenna feed point. prone to losses since it requires high-quality, low-
loss components. It may also require careful
adjustment for optimum results and thus a
2.8.2 Vertical half-wave antennas quarter-wave or three-quarter wave antenna is
usually preferred.
An alternative to the use of a quarter-wave
radiating element is that of a half-wave element.
This type of antenna must be voltage fed (rather 2,8.3 518th wave vertical antennas
than current fed as is the case with the quarter-
wave antenna). A voltage-fed antenna requires 5/8th wave vertical antennas provide a compact
the use of a resonant transformer connected solution to the need for an omnidirectional VHF!
Antennas 25

2.8.4 Corner reflectors

Radiating element An alternative to the Yagi antenna (described
earlier) is that of a corner reflecting arrangement
AM like that shown in Figure 2.25. The two reflecting
surfaces (which may be solid or perforated to
reduce wind resistance) are inclined at an angle of
about 900. This type of aerial is compact in
50 0 coaxial feeder comparison with a Yagi and also relatively

Buried earth radials Reflecting

Figure 2.23 Quarterwave vertical antenna
with sloping radials

Driven element

Radiating element 5)J8

Figure 2.25 High-gain corner reflector

Load in g co ii antenna with dipole feed

2.8.5 Parabolic reflectors

The need for very high gain coupled with
directional response at UHF or microwave
frequencies is often satisfied by the use of a
~c4: parabolic reflector in conjunction with a radiating
element positioned at the feed-point of the dish
50 fl coaxial feeder
(see Figure 2.26). In order to be efficient, the
diameter of a parabolic reflecting surface must be
Figure 2.24 5/8th wave vertical antenna with large in comparison with the wavelength of the
sloping radials signal. The gain of such an antenna depends on
various factors but is directly proportional to the
ratio of diameter to wavelength.
UHF antenna offering some gain over a basic The principle of the parabolic reflector antenna
quarter-wave antenna. In fact, a 5/8th wave is shown in Figure 2.27. Signals arriving from a
vertical antenna behaves electrically as a three- distant transmitter will be reflected so that they
quarter wave antenna (i.e. it is current fed from pass through the focal point of the parabolic
the bottom and there is a voltage maximum at the surface (as shown). With a conventional parabolic
top). In order to match the antenna, an inductive surface, the focal point lies directly on the axis
loading coil is incorporated at the feed-point. A directly in front of the reflecting surface. Placing
typical 5/8th wave vertical antenna with sloping a radiating element (together with its supporting
ground plane is shown in Figure 2.24. structure) at the focal point may thus have the
26 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

dish. This feed arrangement is often used for

reflecting surface
focal plane reflector antennas where the outer
edge of the dish is in the same plane as the half-
wave dipole plus reflector feed.
An alternative arrangement using a waveguide
and small horn radiator (see page 27) is shown in
Figure 2.29. The horn aerial offers some modest
Feed gain (usually 6 to 10 dB, or so) and this can be
arrangement instrumental in increasing the overall gain of the
arrangement. Such antennas are generally not
focal plane types and the horn feed will usuall31
require support above the parabolic surface.

Figure 2.26 Parabolic reflector antenna surface


Waveguide /
point C
5, Half-wave
// 5~

Figure 2.28 Parabolic reflector with half-wave

dipole and reflector feed
Figure 2.27 Principle of the parabolic reflector
undesirable effect of partially obscuring the
parabolic surface! In order to overcome this
problem the surface may be modified so that the Horn
focus is offset from the central axis. radiator
It is important to realise that the reflecting
surface of a parabolic reflector antenna is only
part of the story. Equally important (and crucial
to the effectiveness of the antenna) is the method
of feeding the parabolic surface. Whats required
here is a means of illuminating or capturing
signals from the entire parabolic surface.
Figure 2.28 shows a typical feed arrangement
based on a waveguide (see page 38), half-wave
dipole and a reflector. The dipole and reflector Waveguide
has a beamwidth of around 900 and this is ideal
for illuminating the parabolic surface. The dipole Figure 2.29 Parabolic reflector with horn and
and reflector is placed at the focal point of the waveguide
Antennas 27

2.8.6 Horn antennas

Like parabolic reflector antennas, horn antennas
are commonly used at microwave frequencies.
Horn aerials may be used alone or as a means of
illuminating a parabolic (or other) reflecting
surface. Horn antennas are ideal for use with
waveguide feeds; the transition from waveguide
(see page 38) to the free space aperture being
accomplished over several wavelengths as the
waveguide is gradually flared out in both planes.
During the transition from waveguide to free
space, the impedance changes gradually. The gain
Figure 2.30 Parabolic reflector antenna with of a horn aerial is directly related to the ratio of
dipole and reflector feed its aperture (i.e. the size of the horns opening)
and the wavelength. However, as the gain
increases, the bearnwidth becomes reduced.

Figure 2.31 High-gain earth station antenna

with parabolic reflector and horn feed Front view

Waveguide feed
Test your understanding 2.6
Identify an antenna type suitable for use in the
following applications. Give reasons for your
(a) an SHF satellite earth station
(b) a low-frequency non-directional beacon
(c) an airfield communication system side view
(d) a long-range HF communication system
(e) a microwave link between two fixed points.
Figure 2.32 A horn antenna
28 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Table 2.1 Typical characteristics of some

common antennas
The purpose of the feeder line is to convey the
. Gain Beamwidth power produced by a source to a load which may
(dB~ (degrees) be some distance away. In the case of a receiver,
the source is the receiving antenna whilst the load
Vertical half-wave dipole 0 360 is the input impedance of the first RF amplifier
stage. In the case of a transmitting system, the
Vertical quarter-wave with 0 360 source is the output stage of the transmitter and
ground plane the load is the impedance of the transmitting
Four-element Yagi 6 43 antenna. Ideally, a feeder would have no losses
(i.e. no power would be wasted in it) and it would
UHF corner reflector 9 27 present a perfect match between the impedance of
the source to that of the load. In practice, this is
Two stacked vertical half- 3 360 seldom the case. This section explains the basic
wave dipoles principles and describes the construction of most
common types of feeder.
5/8th wave vertical with 2 360
ground plane
Small horn antenna for use 10 20 2.9.1 Characteristic impedance
at 10 GHz The impedance of a feeder (known as its
3 m diameter parabolic 40 4 characteristic impedance) is the impedance that
antenna for tracking space would be seen looking into an infinite length of
vehicles at UHF the feeder at the working frequency. The
characteristic impedance, Z0, is a fUnction of the
inductance, L, and capacitance, C, of the feeder
Test your understanding 2.7 and may be approximately represented by:

Identify the antenna shown in Figure 2.33. Sketch

a typical horizontal radiation pattern for this
L and C are referred to as the primary constants
of a feeder. In this respect, L is the loop
inductance per unit length whilst C is the shunt
capacitance per unit length (see Figure 2.34).
In practice, a small amount of DC resistance
will be present in the feeder but this is usually
negligible. For the twin open wire shown in
Figure 2.21(a), the inductance, L, and
capacitance, C, of the line depend on the spacing
between the wires and the diameter of the two
conductors. For the coaxial cable shown in Figure
2.21(b) the characteristic impedance depends
upon the ratio of the diameters of the inner and
outer conductors.

Example 2.4
A cable has a loop inductance of 20 nH and a
capacitance of 100 pF. Determine the
Figure 2.33 See Test your understanding 2.7 characteristic impedance of the cable.
Antennas 29


U 1. I..,

(a) Loop inductance (line short-circuit at the far end)

0TT T0 -~

(b) Loop capacitance (line open-circuit at the far end)

Figure 2.34 Loop inductance and loop capacitance

Inthiscase,L=20n1-1=20 x lO9HandC
100 pF 100 x 10_12 F.

Using 4~Q gives:

=~.8x10~ =~i=42Q
(a) Open wire feeder

2.9.2 Coaxial cables

Because they are screened, coaxial cables are
used almost exclusively in aircraft applications.
The coaxial cable shown in Figure 2.35(b) has a
centre conductor (either solid or stranded wire)
and an outer conductor that completely shields
the inner conductor. The two conductors are
concentric and separated by an insulating
dielectric that is usually air or some form of
polythene. The impedance of such a cable is
given by:

(b) coaxial cable 0

Figure 2.35 Dimensions of flat twin feeder where Z0 is the characteristic impedance (in
and coaxial cables ohms), D is the inside diameter of the outside
30 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

conductor (in mm), and d is the outside diameter

of the inside conductor (in mm).

Example 2.5
A coaxial cable has an inside conductor diameter Low impedance High impedance
of 2mm and an outside conductor diameter of 10
mm. Determine the characteristic impedance of (a) Open wire feeder
the cable.

In this case, d 2mm and D = 10mm.

Using 4 =l38logj0~) 0 gives:

4 = 138 logia(.!.~) = 1381og10 (5) = 138x0.7 =970

Low impedance High impedance

2.9.3 Two-wire open feeder (b) coaxial cable

The characteristic impedance of the two-wire

open feeder shown in Figure 2.35(a) is given by: Figure 2.36 Effect of dimensions on the
characteristic impedance of open wire feeder
Z0 = 276 log10 0 and coaxial cable

where Z0 is the characteristic impedance (in 2.9.4 Attenuation

ohms), s is the spacing between the wire centres
(in mm), and r is the radius of the wire (in mm). The attenuation of a feeder is directly
Flat twin ribbon cable is a close relative of the proportional to the DC resistance of the feeder
two-wire open line (the difference between these and inversely proportional to the impedance of
two being simply that the former is insulated and the line. Obviously, the lower the resistance of
the two conductors are separated by a rib of the the feeder, the smaller will be the power losses.
same insulating material). The attenuation is given by:
When determining the characteristic impedance
of ribbon feeder, the formula given above must be A=0.143-~ dB
modified to allow for the dielectric constant of the 4
insulating material. In practice, however, the
difference may be quite small. where A is the attenuation in dB (per metre), 1? is
the resistance in ohms (per metre) and Z is the
characteristic impedance (in ohms).
Whilst the attenuation of a feeder remains
Test your understanding 2.8
reasonably constant throughout its specified
1. A coaxial cable has an inductance of 30 nH/rn frequency range, it is usually subject to a
and a capacitance of 120 pF)rn. Determine the progressive increase beyond the upper frequency
characteristic impedance of the cable. limit (see Figure 2.38). It is important when
2. The open wire feeder used with a high-power choosing a feeder or cable for a particular
land-based HF radio transmitter uses wire application to ensure that the operating frequency
having a diameter of 2.5 mm and a spacing of is within that specified by the manufacturer. As
15 mm. Determine the characteristic an example, R0178B/U coaxial cable has a loss
impedance of the feeder. that increases with frequency from 0.18 dB at 10
Antennas 31


V 1.0


1MHz 10MHz 100MHz 1GHz

Frequency (log, scale)

Figure 2.37 Construction of a high-quality Figure 2.38 Attenuation of a typical coaxial

coaxial cable (50 Q impedance) cable feeder

MHz, to 0.44 dB at 100 MHz, 0.95 dB at 400 Note that, in a loss-free feeder, R and 0 are both
MHz, and 1.4 dB at I GHz. very small and can be ignored (i.e. R = 0 and G =

0) but with a real feeder both R and G are present.

2.9.5 Primary constants
The two types of feeder that we have already P L L P
described differ in that one type (the coaxial 2 2 2 2
feeder) is unbalanced whilst the other (the two-
wire transmission line) is balanced. In order to
filly understand the behaviour of a feeder, C G
whether balanced or unbalanced, it is necessary to 0 0
consider its equivalent circuit in terms of four
conventional component values; resistance,
(a) Unbalanced feeder
inductance, capacitance and conductance, as
shown in Figure 2.39. These four parameters are
known as primary constants and they are
summarised in Table 2.2. 1~. .L
4 4 4 4

Table 2.2 The primary constants of a feeder

Constant Symbol Units

Resistance R Ohms (~2) 4 4 ~, 1
Inductance L Henries (H) (b) Balanced feeder

Capacitance C Farads (F)

Figure 2.39 Equivalent circuit of balanced
Conductance G Siemens (5) and unbalanced feeders
32 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

2.9.6 Velocity factor

The velocity of a wave in a feeder is not the same
as the velocity of the wave in free space. The
ratio of the two (velocity in the feeder compared
with the velocity in free space) is known as the
velocity factor. Obviously, velocity factor must
always be less than 1, and in typical feeders it
varies from 0.6 to 0.97 (see Table 2.3).
Figure 2.40 Coaxial connectors (from left to
Table 2.3 Velocity factor for various types of right: PL-259, BNC, and N-type)
Tyfre offeeder Velocity factor hi
(a) L~ - ~
Two-wire open line (wire with 0.975
air dielectric)
Parallel tubing (air dielectric) 0.95
Coaxial line (air dielectric) 0.85
5 mm
Coaxial line (solid plastic 0.66
Two-wire line (wire with plastic 0.68 to 0.82
Twisted-pair line (rubber 0.56 to 0.65
dielectric) (d)a

2.10 Connectors (e) zfl1JJIJ~~

Connectors provide a means of linking coaxial
cables to transmitting/receiving equipment and
antennas. Connectors should be reliable, easy to Figure 2.41 Method of fitting a BNC4ype
mate, and sealed to prevent the ingress of connector to a coaxial cable
moisture and other fluids. They should also be
designed to minimise contact resistance and,
ideally, they should exhibit a constant impedance impedance connectors should be used for
which accurately matches that of the system in applications at frequencies of above 200 MHz.
which they are used (normally 50 ~2 for aircraft Below this frequency, the loss associated with
applications). using non-constant impedance connectors is not
Coaxial connectors are available in various usually significant.
format (see Figure 2.40). Of these, the BNC- and Figure 2.41 shows the method of fitting a
N-type connectors are low-loss constant typical BNC connector to a coaxial cable. Fitting
impedance types. requires careftil preparation of the coaxial cable.
The need for constant impedance connectors The outer braided screen is fanned out, as shown
(e.g. BNC and N-type connectors) rather than in Figure 2.41(b) and Figure 2.41(c) and clamped
cheaper non-constant impedance connectors (e.g. in place whereas the inner conductor is usually
PL-259) becomes increasingly critical as the soldered to the centre contact, as shown in Figure
frequency increases. As a general rule, constant 2.4 1(d).
Antennas 33

2.11 Standing wave ratio

Forward wave
Matching a source (such as a transmitter) to a
load (such as an aerial) is an important
consideration because it allows the maximum
~ce ~ad
transfer of power from one to the other. Ideally, Reflected wave
a feeder should present a perfect match between
the impedance of the source and the impedance (a) Forward and reflected waves travelling along the line
of the load. Unfortunately this is seldom the
case and all too often there is some degree of Voltage
mismatch present. This section explains the
consequences of mismatching a source to a load
and describes how the effect of a mismatch can
be quantified in terms of standing wave ratio
Where the impedance of the transmission line Distance
or feeder perfectly matches that of the aerial, all (b) Voltage standing wave produced
of the energy delivered by the line will be
transferred to the load (i.e. the aerial). Under
these conditions, no energy will be reflected Figure 2.42 Forward and reflected waves
back to the source. when a load is mismatched
If the match between source and load is
imperfect, a proportion of the energy arriving at
the load will be reflected back to the source. In Figure 2.43(b) the load is short-circuit. This
The result of this is that a standing wave pattern represents one of the two worst-case scenarios as
of voltage and current will appear along the the voltage varies from zero to a very high
feeder (see Fig. 2.42). positive value. In this condition, all of the
The standing wave shown in Figure 2.42 generated power is reflected back to the source.
occurs when the wave travelling from the In Figure 2.43(c) the load is open-circuit. This
source to the load (i.e. the forward wave) represents the other worst-case scenario. Here
interacts with the wave travelling from the load again, the voltage varies from zero to a high
to the source (the reflected wave). It is positive value and, once again, all of the
important to note that both the forward and generated power is reflected back to the source.
reflected waves are moving but in opposite In Figure 2.43(d) the feeder is terminated by an
directions. The standing wave, on the other impedance that is different from the feeders
hand, is stationary. characteristic impedance but is neither a short-
As indicated in Figure 2.42 when a standing circuit nor an open-circuit. This condition lies
wave is present, at certain points along the somewhere between the extreme and perfectly
feeder the voltage will be a maximum whilst at matched cases.
others it will take a minimum value. The current The standing wave ratio (SWR) of a feeder or
distribution along the feeder will have a similar transmission line is an indicator of the
pattern (note, however, that the voltage maxima effectiveness of the impedance match between the
will coincide with the current minima, and vice transmission line and the antenna. The SWR is
versa). the ratio of the maximum to the minimum current
Four possible scenarios are shown in Figure along the length of the transmission line, or the
2.43. In Figure 2.43(a) the feeder is perfectly ratio of the maximum to the minimum voltage.
matched to the load. Only the forward wave is When the line is absolutely matched the SWR is
present and there is no standing wave. This is unity. In other words, we get unity SWR when
the ideal case in which all of the energy there is no variation in voltage or current along
generated by the source is absorbed by the load. the transmission line.
34 Aircraft communications and navigation aystems


o .1 1.5A
4 2 4 4
Distance from termination
(a) Correctly terminated feeder


o -~ .1 A
4 2 4 4
Distance from termination
(b) Feeder terminated by a short-circuit



0 1 1 A ISA
4 2 4 4
Distance from termination
(c) Feeder terminated by an open-circuit


0 1 .1 A ISA
4 2 4 4
Distance from termination
(d) Feeder terminated by an impedance that is not equal to the characteristic impedance

Figure Z43 Effect of different types of mismatch

Antennas 35

The greater the number representing SWR, the

larger is the mismatch. Also, I 21? losses increase
with increasing SWR.
For a purely resistive load:

SWR = ~ (when Zr> Z0)


SWR= (when Zr<Zo)

where Z0 is the characteristic impedance of the Figure 2.44 A combined RF power and
transmission line (in ohms) and Zr is the SWR meter
impedance of the load (also in ohms). Note that,
since SWR is a ratio, it has no units.
SWR is optimum (i.e. unity) when Z~ is equal
to Z0. It is unimportant as to which of these terms
is in the numerator. Since SWR cannot be less

:: I
than 1, it makes sense to put whichever is the
larger of the two numbers in the numerator.
The average values of RF current and voltage
~ 2O~o ~o e~
become larger as the SWR increases. This, in
turn, results in increased power loss in the series
loss resistance and leakage conductance
For values of SWR of between 1 and 2 this
additional feeder loss is not usually significant Figure 2.45 A typical SWR meter scale
and is typically less than 0.5 dB. However, when (showing SWR and % reflected power)
the SWR exceeds 2.5 or 3, the additional loss
becomes increasingly significant and steps should
be taken to reduce it to a more acceptable value.
detector. Secondary line, LI (and associated
components, Dl and RI) is arranged so that it
2.11.1 SWR measurement senses the forward wave whilst secondary line,
L2 (and associated components, D2 and R2) is
Standing wave ratio is easily measured using an connected so that it senses the reflected wave.
instrument known as an SWR bridge, SWR In use, RF power is applied to the system, the
meter, or a combined SWRlpower meter (see meter is switched to indicate the forward power,
Figure 2.44), Despite the different forms of this and VRI is adjusted for full-scale deflection.
instrument the operating principle involves Next, the meter is switched to indicate the
sensing the forward and reflected power and reflected power and the SWR is read directly
displaying the difference between them. from the meter scale. More complex instruments
Figure 2.45 shows the scale calibration for the use cross-point meter movements where the two
SWR meter circuit shown in Figure 2.46. The pointers simultaneously indicate forward and
instrument comprises a short length of reflected power and the point at which they
transmission line with two inductively and intersect (read from a third scale) gives the value
capacitively coupled secondary lines. Each of of SWR present.
these secondary lines is terminated with a The point at which the SWR in a system is
matched resistive load and each has a signal measured is important. To obtain the most
36 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


Dl 150
SKI Input Short length of 50 ~2 transmission line SK2 Output

5150 ~r D2

FB2 Fwd. Ref. FB4 F63
A c


FB = ferrite bead inductor I 0011

Figure 2.46 A typical SWR meter

meaningffil indication of the SWR of an aerial the Sudden deterioration of antenna performance and
SWR should ideally be measured at the far end of an equally sudden increase in SWR usually points
the feeder (i.e. at the point at which the feeder is either to mechanical failure of the elements or to
connected to the aerial). The measured SWR will electrical failure of the feed-point connection,
actually be lower at the other end of the feeder feeder or RF connectors. Gradual deterioration,
(i.e. at the point at which the feeder is connected on the other hand, is usually associated with
to the transmitter). The reason for this apparent corrosion or ingress of fluids into the anteima
anomaly is simply that the loss present in the structure, feeder or antenna termination.
feeder serves to improve the apparent SWR seen The SWR of virtually all practical aerial/feeder
by the transmitter. The more lossy the feeder the arrangements is liable to some considerable
better the SWR! variation with frequency. For this reason, it is
Antennas 37

advisable to make measurements at the extreme 40 100

limits of the frequency range as well as at the S
centre frequency. In the case of a typical C

transmitting aerial, the SWR can vary from 2:1 at 20 50 S

the band edges to 1.2:1 at the centre. Wideband S
aerials, particularly those designed primarily for C
receiving applications, often exhibit significantly ><
0) 0 0
higher values of SWR. This makes them unsuited u
to transmitting applications. u

2.11.2 A design example
In order to pursue this a little fUrther its worth
taking an example with some measured values to 40
237 243 249 255 251
confirm that the SWR of a half-wave dipole (see
page 16) really does change in the way that we Frequency (MHz)
have predicted. This example further underlines
the importance of SWR and the need to have an
Figure 2.47 Variation of resistance and
accurate means of measuring it.
reactance for the 250 MHz half-wave dipole
Assume that we are dealing with a simple half-
wave dipole aerial that is designed with the
following parameters: 2.5
Centre frequency: 250 MI-Iz
Feed-line impedance: 75 ohm
Dipole length: 0.564 metres
Element diameter: 5 mm
Bandwidth: 51MHz
Q-factor: 4.9 (0

The calculated resistance of this aerial varies 1.5

from about 52 0 at 235 MHz to 72 0 at 265
MHz. Over the same frequency range its
reactance varies from about 37 0 (a capacitive
reactance) to +38 0 (an inductive reactance). As
predicted, zero reactance at the feed point occurs 237 243 249 255 261
at a frequency of 250 MHz for the dipole length Frequency (MHz)
in question. This relationship is shown in Figure
2.47. Figure 2.48 Variation of SWR for the
Measurements of SWR show a minimum value 250 MHz half-wave dipole antenna
of about 1.23 occurring at about 251 MHz and an
expected gradual rise either side of this value (see
Fig 2.48). This graph shows that the transmitting usually attributable to the inability of a
bandwidth is actually around 33 MHz (extending transmitter to operate into a load that has any
from 237 MHz to around 270 MHz) for an SWR appreciable amount of reactance present rather
of 2:1 instead of the intended 51 MHz. Clearly than to an inability of the aerial to radiate
this could be a problem in an application where a effectively. Most aerials will radiate happily at
transmitter is to be operated with a maximum frequencies that are some distance away from
SWR of2:l their resonant frequencythe problem is more
The bandwidth limitation of a system one of actually getting the power that the
(comprising transmitter, feeder and aerial) is transmitter is capable of delivering into them!
38 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

2.12 Waveguide A simple waveguide system is shown in Figure

2.50. The SHF signal is applied to a quarter
Conventional coaxial cables are ideal for coupling wavelength coaxial probe. The wave launched in
RF equipment at LF, HF and VHF. However, at the guide is reflected from the plane blanked-off
microwave frequencies (above 3 GHz, or so), this end of the waveguide and travels through sections
type of feeder can have significant losses and is of waveguide to the load (in this case a horn
also restricted in terms of the peak RF power antenna, see page 27). An example of the use of a
(voltage and current) that it can handle. Because waveguide is shown in Figure 2.51. In this
of this, waveguide feeders are used to replace application a flexible waveguide is used to feed
coaxial cables for SHF and EHF applications, the weather radar antenna mounted in the nose of
such as weather radar. a large passenger aircraft. The antenna comprises
A waveguide consists of a rigid or flexible a flat steerable plate with a large number of
metal tube (usually of rectangular cross-section) radiating slots (each equivalent to a half-wave
in which an electromagnetic wave is launched. dipole fed in phase).
The wave travels with very low loss inside the
waveguide with its magnetic field component (the
H-field) aligning with the broad dimension of the
waveguide and the electric field component (the
E-field) aligning with the narrow dimension of
the waveguide (see Figure 2.49).

(a) Waveguide (broad dimension) showing H-field

1111.1 11111 11111 tIlt?

(b) Waveguide (narrow dimension) showing E-field

Figure 2.49 E- and H4ields in a rectangular Figure 2.51 Aircraft weather radar with
waveguide steerable microwave antenna and waveguide

coupling flanges Horn antenna

coaxial to waveguide

Launchin~~eWh W Waveguidef~
coaxial input

Figure 2.50 A simple waveguide system comprising launcher, waveguide and horn antenna
Antennas 39
Resistance, R Reactance, X
50 -:
~ -

SWR -~-~ :. SWR
3- 40 ~ J 40 -3
~ ae~~~t.~

-~ -

2.5- 30 30 -2.5

2 20 20 -2

1.5 10 ~\_
0 1.5

o 1
117.5 120 122.5 125 127.5 130 132.5
Frequency (MHz)

Figure 2.52 See Test your knowledge 2.9

Test your understanding 2.9 2.13 Multiple choice questions

Figure 2.52 shows the frequency response of a 1. An isotropic radiator will radiate:
vertical quarter-wave antenna used for local VHF (a) only in one direction
communications. Use the graph to determine the (b) in two main directions
following: (c) uniformly in all directions.
(a) The frequency at which the SWR is minimum
(b) The 2:1 SWR bandwidth of the antenna 2. Another name for a quarter-wave vertical
(c) The reactance of the antenna at 120 MHz antenna is:
(d) The resistance of the antenna at 120 MHz (a) a Yagi antenna
(e) The frequency at which the reactance of the (b) a dipole antenna
antenna is a minimum (c) a Marconi antenna.
(f) The frequency at which the resistance of the
antenna is 50 0.
3. A full-wave dipole fed at the centre must be:
(a) current fed
(b) voltage fed
Test your understanding 2.10 (c) impedance -fed.

Explain what is meant by standing wave ratio 4. The radiation efficiency of an antenna:
(SWR) and why this is important in determining (a) increases with antenna loss resistance
the performance of an antenna/feeder (b) decreases with antenna loss resistance
combination. (c) is unaffected by antenna loss resistance.
40 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5. A vertical quarter-wave antenna will have a 3.0

polar diagram in the horizontal plane which is:
(a) unidirectional
(b) omnidirectional
(c) bi-directional.

6. Which one of the following gives the Cu 1.5
approximate length of a half-wave dipole for ~
use at 300 MHz?
10.7 10.8 10.9 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5
(a) 50 cm
Frequency (MHz)
Figure 2.53 See Question 8
7. A standing wave ratio of 1:1 indicates:
(a) that there will be no reflected power
(b) that the reflected power will be the same
as the forward power
(c) that only half of the transmitted power will
actually be radiated. 1~3zz~.~
8. Which one of the following gives the 2:1
SWR bandwidth of the antenna whose
frequency response is shown in Figure 2.53?
(a) 270 kHz Figure 2.54 See Question 10
(b) 520 kHz
(c) 11.1 MHz.

9. Which one of the following antenna types 13. The attenuation of an RF signal in a coaxial
would be most suitable for a fixed long cable:
distance HF communications link? (a) increases with frequency
(a) a corner reflector (b) decreases with frequency
(b) two stacked vertical dipoles (c) stays the same regardless of frequency.
(c) a three-element horizontal Yagi.
14. If a transmission line is perfectly matched to
10. What type of antenna is shown in Figure 2,54? an aerial load it will:
(a) a folded dipole (a) have no impedance
(b) aYagi (b) be able to carry an infinite current
(c) a corner reflector. (c) appear to be infinitely long.

II. When two antennas are vertically stacked the 15. The characteristic impedance of an RF coaxial
combination will have: cable is:
(a) increased gain and decreased beamwidth (a) usually between 50 and 75 0
(b) decreased gain and increased beamwidth (b) either 300 or 600 ~2
(c) increased gain and unchanged beamwidth. (c) greater than 600 0.

12. The characteristic impedance of a coaxial 16. The beamwidth of an antenna is measured:
cable depends on: (a) between the 50% power points
(a) the ratio of inductance to capacitance (b) between the 70% power points
(b) the ratio of resistance to inductance (c) between the 90% power points.
(c) the product of the resistance and reactance
(either capacitive or inductive).
Chapter Transmitters 12-Jan-2017
3 and receivers
Transmitters and receivers are used extensively in appreciable currents and/or voltages that appear
aircraft communication and navigation systems. in the power amplifier stage can also prove to be
In conjunction with one ore more antennas, they somewhat problematic.
are responsible for implementing the vital link The simplest form of CW receiver consists of
between the aircraft, ground stations, other nothing more than a radio frequency amplifier
aircraft and satellites. This chapter provides a (which provides gain and selectivity) followed by
general introduction to the basic principles and a detector and an audio amplifier. The detector
operation of transmitters and receivers. These stage mixes a locally generated radio frequency
themes are fUrther developed in Chapters 4 and 5. signal produced by the beat frequency oscillator
(BFO) with the incoming signal to produce a
signal that lies within the audio frequency range
3.1 A simple radio system (typically between 300 Hz and 3.4 kHz).
As an example, assume that the incoming
Figure 3.1 shows a simple iadio communication signal is at a frequency of 100 kHz and that the
system comprising a transmitter and receiver BFO is producing a signal at 99 kHz. A signal at
for use with continuous wave (CW) signals. the difference between these two frequencies
Communication is achieved by simply switching (I kHz) will appear at the output of the detector
(or keying) the radio frequency signal on and stage. This will then be amplified within the
off. Keying can be achieved by interrupting the audio stage before being fed to the loudspeaker.
supply to the power amplifier stage or even the
oscillator stage; however, it is normally applied
within the driver stage that operates at a more Example 3.1.1
modest power level. Keying the oscillator stage A radio wave has a frequency of 162.5 kHz. If a
usually results in impaired frequency stability. On beat frequency of 1.25 kHz is to be obtained,
the other hand, attempting to interrupt the determine the two possible BFO frequencies.

100 kHz
100 kHz

100 kHz 1 kHz 1 kHz

Morse key

Figure 3.1 A simple radio communication system

42 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

The BFO can be above or below the incoming

signal frequency by an amount that is equal to the
beat frequency (i.e. the audible signal that results
from the beating of the two frequencies and S
which appears at the output of the detector stage).

from which: C
Inro = (162.5 1.25) kHz = 160.75 or 163.25 kHz
Figure 3.3 Morse code signal for the letter C

Test your understanding 3.1 3.2 Modulation and demodulation

An audio frequency signal of 850 Hz is produced In order to convey information using a radio
when a BFO is set to 455.5 kHz. What is the input
signal frequency to the detector? frequency carrier, the signal information must be
superimposed or modulated onto the carner
Modulation is the name given to the process of
changing a particular property of the carrier wave
3.1.1 Morse code in sympathy with the instantaneous voltage (or
Transmitters and receivers for CW operation are current) signal
extremely simple but nevertheless they can be The most commonly used methods of
extremely efficient. This makes them particularly modulation are amplitude modulation (AM) and
useful for disaster and emergency communication frequency modulation (FM) In the former case,
or for any situation that requires optimum use of the carrier amplitude (its peak voltage) varies
low power equipment. Signals are transmitted according to the voltage, at any instant, of the
using the code invented by Samuel Morse (see modulating signal In the latter case, the carrier
Figures 3.2 and 3.3). frequency is varied in accordance with the
voltage, at any instant, of the modulating signal
Figure 3 4 shows the effect of amplitude and
A N frequency modulating a sinusoidal carrier (note
B = 00 0 0 that the modulating signal is in this case also
C ==~ P sinusoidal) In practice, many more cycles of the
D =00 Q ==0=
R RF carrier would occur in the time-span of one
F = 5 000 cycle of the modulating signal The process of
G ==~ T = modulating a carrier is undertaken by a
H o~ U modulator circuit, as shown in Figure 3 5 The
I 00 V input and output waveforms foi amplitude and
J 0=== w ==
frequency modulator circuits are shown in Figure
K X 36
L =~ Y ===
Demodulation is the reverse of modulation
M == z
and is the means by which the signal information
is recovered from the modulated carrier
1 ===== 6 00 00 Demodulation is achieved by means of a
2 0 = = 7 = = 00 0 demodulator (sometimes also called a detector)
3 0 0 0 8 0 0 The output of a demodulator consists of a
4 00 0 0 = 9 = = = 0 reconstructed version of the original signal
5 00 0 00 0 = = = = = information present at the input of the modulator
stage within the transmitter The input and output
waveforms for amplitude and frequency
Figure 3.2 Morse code
Transmitters and receivers


Modulated carrier
(a) Radio frequency carrier Modulating signal
wave input ouput

(a) Amplitude demodulation

(b) Audio frequency modulating signal

fl ~odEor
Modulated carrier Modulating signal
wave output ouput

(b) Frequency demodulation

(c) Amplitude modulated carrier (AM) Figure 3S Action of a demodulator

modulator circuits are shown in Figure 3.6. We

shall see how this works a little later.

(d) Frequency modulated carrier (FM)

3.3 AM transmitters
Figure 3.4 Modulated waveforms Figure 3.7 shows the block schematic of a simple
AM transmitter. An accurate and stable RF
oscillator generates the radio frequency carrier
signal. The output of this stage is then amplified
and passed to a modulated RF power amplifier
stage. The inclusion of an amplifier between the
carrier wave Modulated carrier RF oscillator and the modulated stage also helps
input wave output
to improve frequency stability.
The low-level signal from the microphone is
Modulating amplified using an AF amplifier before it is
signal input
passed to an AF power amplifier. The output of
(a) Amplitude modulation the power amplifier is then fed as the supply to
the modulated RF power amplifier stage.

1~;; ;a;i ~
Increasing and reducing the supply to this stage is
instrumental in increasing and reducing the
~zI~Ac~ amplitude of its RF output signal.
The modulated RF signal is then passed
carrier wave Modulated carrier
input wave output
through an antenna coupling unit. This unit
matches the antenna to the RF power amplifier
and also helps to reduce the level of any
Modulating unwanted harmonic components that may be
signal input present. The AM transmitter shown in Figure 3.7
(b) Frequency modulation uses high-level modulation in which the
modulating signal is applied to the final RF
Figure 3.5 Action of a modulator power amplifier stage.
44 Aircraft communications and navigation systems




Figure 3.7 An AM transmitter using high-level modulation




Figure 3.8 An AM transmitter using low-level modulation

An alternative to high-level modulation of the 3.4 FM transmitters

carrier wave is shown in Figure 3.8. In this
arrangement the modulation is applied to a low- Figure 3.9 shows the block schematic of a simple
power RF amplifier stage and the amplitude FM transmitter. Once again, an accurate and
modulated signal is then further amplified by the stable RF oscillator generates the radio frequency
final RF power amplifier stage. In order to carrier signal. As with the AM transmitter, the
prevent distortion of the modulated waveform output of this stage is amplified and passed to an
this final stage must operate in linear mode (the RF power amplifier stage. Here again, the
output waveform must be a faithful replica of the inclusion of an amplifier between the BY
input waveform). Low-level modulation avoids oscillator and the RF power stage helps to
the need for an AF power amplifier. improve frequency stability.
Transmitters and receivers 45



Figure 3.8 An FM transmitter

The low-level signal from the microphone is The signal from the antenna is applied to an RF
amplified using an AF amplifier before it is amplifier stage. This stage provides a moderate
passed to a variable reactance element (see amount of gain at the signal frequency. It also
Chapter 4) within the RF oscillator tuned circuit. provides selectivity by incorporating one or more
The application of the AF signal to the variable tuned circuits at the signal frequency. This helps
reactance element causes the frequency of the RF the receiver to reject signals that may be present
oscillator to increase and decrease in sympathy on adjacent channels.
with the AF signal. The output of the RF amplifier stage is applied
As with the AM transmitter, the final RF signal to the demodulator. This stage recovers the audio
from the power amplifier is passed through an frequency signal from the modulated RF signal.
antenna coupling unit that matches the antenna to The demodulator stage may also incorporate a
the RF power amplifier and also helps to reduce tuned circuit to further improve the selectivity of
the level of any unwanted harmonic components the receiver.
that may be present. Further information on The output of the demodulator stage is fed to
transmitters will be found in Chapters 4 and 5. the input of the AF amplifier stage. This stage
increases the level of the audio signal from the
demodulator so that it is sufficient to drive a
3.5 Tuned radio frequency receivers loudspeaker.
TRF receivers have a number of limitations
Tuned radio frequency (TRF) receivers provide a with regard to sensitivity and selectivity and this
means of receiving local signals using fairly makes this type of radio receiver generally
minimal circuitry. The simplified block schematic unsuitable for use in commercial radio
of a TRF receiver is shown in Figure 3.9. equipment.


Figure 3.9 A TRF receiver

46 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

3.6 Superhet receivers from the AM demodulator (see page 51) is used
to control the gain of the IF and RF amplifier
Superhet receivers provide both improved stages. As the signal level increases, the DC level
sensitivity (the ability to receive weak signals) from the demodulator stage increases and this is
and improved selectivity (the ability to used to reduce the gain of both the RF and IF
discriminate signals on adjacent channels) when amplifiers.
compared with TRF receivers Superhet receivers The superhet receivers intermediate frequency
are based on the supersonic-heterodyne fi~ is the difference between the signal frequency,
principle where the wanted input signal is far, and the local oscillator frequency, jjo. The
converted to a fixed intermediate frequency (IF) desired local oscillator frequency can be
at which the majority of the gain and selectivity is calculated from the relationship:
applied The intermediate frequency chosen is
generally 455 kHz or 1 6 MHz for AM receivers
and 107 MHz for communications and FM Note that in most cases (and in order to simpli&
receivers The simplified block schematic of a tuning arrangements) the local oscillator operates
simple superhet receiver is shown in Figure 3 11 above the signal frequency, i.e.fLo far +Jjp So,
The signal from the antenna is applied to an for example, a superhet receiver with a 1.6 MHz
RF amplifier stage As with the TRF receiver, IF tuned to receive a signal at 5.5 MHz will
this stage provides a moderate amount of gain at operate with an LO at (5.5 + 1.6) = 7.1 MHz.
the signal fiequency The stage also provides Figure 3.10 shows the relationship between the
selectivity by incorporating one or more tuned frequencies entering and leaving a mixer stage.
circuits at the signal frequency
The output of the RF amplifier stage is applied
to the mixer stage This stage combines the RF
signal with the signal derived from the local
oscillator (LO) stage in order to produce a signal fRF *~ Mixer
at the intermediate frequency (IF) It is worth
noting that the output signal produced by the
mixer actually contains a number of signal
components, including the sum and difference of
the signal and local oscillator frequencies as well
as the original signals plus harmonic components
The wanted signal (i e that which corresponds to fLo = ~RF
the IF) is passed (usually by some form of filter
see page 48) to the IF amplifier stage This stage Figure 3.10 Action of a mixer stage in a
provides amplification as well as a high degree of superhet receiver
The output of the IF amplifier stage is fed to
the demodulator stage As with the TRF receiver,
Example 3.2
this stage is used to recover the audio frequency
signal from the modulated RF signal A VHF Band II FM receiver with a 10.7 MHz IF
Finally, the AF signal from the demodulator
covers the signal frequency range 88 MHz to 108
stage is fed to the AF amplifier As before, this MHz. Over what frequency range should the local
stage increases the level of the audio signal from oscillator be tuned?
the demodulator so that it is sufficient to diive a
Using fLo =far ~fiF whenfap 88 MHz gives
In order to cope with a wide variation in signal
amplitude, superhet receivers invariably fin = 88 MHz + 10.7 MHz = 98.7 MHz
incorporate some form of automatic gain Using fLo far ~J1F whenfar = 108 MHz gives
control (AGC) In most circuits the DC level fLo = 108 MHz + 10.7 MHz = 118.7 MHz.
Transmitters and receivers 47

Figure 3.11 A superhet receiver

3.7 Selectivity resonance. For this reason, series tuned circuits

are sometimes known as acceptor circuits.
Radio receivers use tuned circuits in order to Parallel tuned circuits, on the other hand, are
discriminate between incoming signals at sometimes referred to as rejector circuits.
different frequencies. Figure 3.12 shows two
basic configurations for a tuned circuit; series and
parallel. The impedance-frequency characteristics Impedance
of these circuits are shown in Figure 3.13. It is
important to note that the impedance of the series
tuned circuit falls to a very low value at the
resonant frequency whilst that for a parallel tuned
circuit increases to a very high value at

fo Frequency

(a) Series tuned circuit

(a) Series tuned circuit Impedance

C fo Frequency

(b) Parallel tuned circuit (b) Parallel tuned circuit

Figure 3.12 Series and parallel tuned circuits Figure 3.13 Frequency response of the
tuned circuits shown in Figure 3.12
48 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

The frequency response (voltage plotted against Clearly many strong signals will appear within
frequency) of a parallel tuned circuit is shown in this range and a significant number of them may
Figure 3.14. This characteristic shows how the be stronger than the wanted signal. With only a
signal developed across the circuit reaches a single tuned circuit at the signal frequency, the
maximum at the resonant frequency (J). The receiver will simply be unable to differentiate
range of frequencies accepted by the circuit is between the wanted and unwanted signals.
normally defined in relation to the half-power Selectivity can be improved by adding
(3dB power) points. These points correspond to additional tuned circuits at the signal frequency.
70.7% of the maximum voltage and the frequency Unfortunately, the use of multiple tuned circuits
range between these points is referred to as the brings with it the problem of maintaining accurate
bandwidth of the tuned circuit. tuning of each circuit throughout the tuning range
of the receiver. Multiple ganged variable
capacitors (or accurately matched variable
Voltage capacitance diodes) are required.
A band-pass filter can be constructed using
Vmax two parallel tuned circuits coupled inductively (or
capacitively), as shown in Figure 3.15. The
frequency response of this type of filter depends
0.707 Vmax upon the degree of coupling between the two
tuned circuits. Optimum results are obtained with
a critical value of coupling (see Figure 3.16). Too
great a degree of coupling results in a double
humped response whilst too little coupling
results in a single peak in the response curve
accompanied by a significant loss in signal.
Bandwidth Critical coupling produces a relatively flat pass-
band characteristic accompanied by a reasonably
f1 f, f2 Frequency steep fall-off either side of the pass-band.
Band-pass filters are often found in the IF
stages of superhet receivers where they are used
Figure 3.14 Frequency response for a
to define and improve the receivers selectivity.
parallel tuned circuit Where necessary, a higher degree of selectivity
and adjacent channel rejection can be achieved
by using a multi-element ceramic, mechanical, or
A perennial problem with the design of the TRF
crystal filter. A typical 455 kHz crystal filter (for
receivers that we met earlier is the lack of
use with an HF receiver) is shown in Figure 3.18.
selectivity due to the relatively wide bandwidth of
This filter provides a bandwidth of 9 kHz and a
the RF tuned circuits. An RF tuned circuit will
very high degree of attenuation at the two
normally exhibit a quality factor (Q-factor) of
adjacent channels on either side of the pass-
about 100. The relationship between bandwidth,
4f~ Q-factor, Q, and resonant frequency, j, for a
tuned circuit is given by:

As an example, consider a tuned circuit which has
a resonant frequency of 10 MHz and a Q-factor of
100. Its bandwidth will be:
= = 10 MHz
= 100 kHz
Q 100 Figure 3.15 Atypical band-pass filter
Transmitters and receivers 49

Critical coupling



fo Frequency

Figure 3.16 Response of coupled tuned

circuits Figure 3.17 Band-pass coupled tuned
circuits in the RF stages of a VHF receiver

Test your understanding 3.2 Attenuation (dB)

Sketch the block schematic of a superhet receiver
and state the function of each of the blocks.

Test your understanding 3.3
An HF communications receiver has an
30 -
intermediate frequency of 455 kHz. What
frequency must the local oscillator operate at
when the receiver is tuned to 5.675 MHz?

Test your understanding 3.4
A tuned circuit IF filter is to operate with a centre
60 -
frequency of 10.7 MHz and a bandwidth of ISO
kHz. What Q-factor is required?
70 -

Test your understanding 3.5 80 I I I

430 440 450 460 470

The ability of a receiver to reject signals on Frequency (IcHz)
adjacent channels is determined by the selectivity
of its IF stages. Explain why this is. Figure 3.18 Mechanical IF filter response
50 Aircraft communicationa and navigation systems

I RF tuned circuit
Test your understanding 3.6 ,1
\ response

Sketch the frequency response of two coupled

tuned circuits. In relation to your answer, explain Wanted Local image
what is meant by: signal oscillator channel

(a) overcoupling
(b) undercoupling
(c) critical coupling. I
455 kHz ~ kHz
21.0 21.5 22.0 22.5 23.0
Frequency (MHz)
3 8 Image channel rejection
(a) 455 kHz IF
Earlier we showed that a superhet receivers
intermediate frequency, fir, is the difference
between the signal frequency, IRF, and the local , RF tuned circuit
oscillator frequency, fLo. We also derived the response
following formula for determining the frequency
of the local oscillator signal:
VVanted Local
/ signal channel
The formula can be rearranged to make .fnr the /

subject, as follows:
JRF-fLo k/jr 1.6 MHz~1.6 MHz

In other words, there are two potential radio

19.0 20.0 21.0 22.0 23.0 24.0 25.0
frequency signals that can mix with the local
Frequency (MHz)
oscillator signal in order to provide the required
IF. One of these is the wanted signal (i.e. the (b) 1.6 MHz IF
signal present on the channel to which the
receiver is tuned) whilst the other is referred to as Figure 3.19 Image channel rejection
the image channel.
Being able to reject any signals that may just
happen to be present on the image channel of a superimposed onto both of the graphs (the same
superhet receiver is an important requirement of response curve has been used in both cases but
any superhet receiver. This can be achieved by the frequency scale has been changed for the two
making the RF tuned circuits as selective as different intermediate frequencies). From Figure
possible (so that the image channel lies well 3.19 is should be clear that whilst the image
outside their pass-band). The problem of rejecting channel for the 455 kHz IF falls inside the RF
the image channel is, however, made easier by tuned circuit response, that for the 1.6 MHz IF
selecting a relatively high value of intermediate falls well outside the curve.
frequency (note that, in terms of frequency, the
image channel is spaced at twice the IF away
from the wanted signal).
Figure 3.19 shows the relationship that exists Test your understanding 3.7
between the wanted signal, local oscillator signal,
An FM receiver tuned to 118.6 MHz has an IF of
and the image channel for receivers with (a) a 455 10.7 MHz. Determine the frequency of the image
kHz IF and (b) a 1.6 MHz IF. A typical response channel given that the local oscillator operates
curve for the RF tuned circuits of the receiver above the signal frequency.
(assuming a typical Q-factor) has been
Transmitters and receivers 51

3.9 Automatic gain control 3.10 Double superhet receivers

The signal levels deiived from the antennas fitted The basic superhet receiver shown HI Figure 3 11
to an aircraft can vary from as little as i iv to has an inteimediate fiequency (IF) of usually
more than 1,000 iV Unfortunately, this presents either 455 kHz, 1 6 MHz or 107 MHz In oidei
us with a pioblem when signals are to be to achieve an acceptable degiee of image channel
amplified The low-level signals benefit fiom the iejection (recall that the image channel is spaced
maximum amount of gain present in a system by twice the IF away from the wanted fiequency)
whilst the larger signals require coriespondingly a 455 kHz IF will generally be satisfactory foi the
less gain in order to avoid non-lineaiity and reception of fiequencies up to about 5 MHz,
consequent distoition of the signals and whilst an IF of 1 6 MHz (om greater) is often used
modulation AM, CW and SSB receivers at frequencies above this At VHF, intemmedmate
theiefore usually incorporate some means of frequencies of 107 MHz (oi higher) are often
automatic gain control (AGC) that piogiessively used
ieduces the signal gain as the amplitude of the Unfortunately, the disadvantage of using a high
input signal increases (see Figume 3 20) IF (1.6 MHz or 10.7 MJ-Iz) is simply that the
bandwidth of conventional tuned circuits is too
AF output wide to provide a satisfactory degree of
voiiage selectivity and thus elaborate (and expensive) IF
No AGC filters are required.
/ To avoid this problem and enjoy the best of
both worlds, many high-performance receivers
make use of two separate intermediate
Delayed AGC frequencies; the first 1F provides a high degree of
Normai AGC image channel rejection whilst the second IF
provides a high degree of selectivity. Such
receivers are said to use dual conversion.
A typical double superhet receiver is shown in
Figure 3.2]. The incoming signal frequency
RE input (26 MHz in the example) is converted to a first IF
voltage at 10.695 MHz by mixing the RF signal with a
first local oscillator signal at 36.695 MHz (note
Figure 3.20 AGO action
that 36.695 MHz 26 MHz 10.695 MHz). The

first IF signal is then filtered and amplified before

it is passed to the second mixer stage.
In simple receivers, the AGC voltage (a DC The input of the second mixer (10.695 MHz) is
voltage dependent on signal amplitude) is derived then mixed with the second local oscillator signal
directly from the signal detector and is fed at 10.240 MHz. This produces the second IF at
directly to the bias circuitry of the IF stages (see 455 kHz (note that 10.695 MHz 10.240 MHz =

Figuie 3.11). In more sophisticated equipment, 455 kHz). The second IF signal is then filtered
the AGC voltage is amplified before being and amplified. It is worth noting that the bulk of
applied to the IF and RF stages. There is, in fact, the gain is usually achieved in the second IF
no need to reduce the signal gain for small RE stages and there will normally be several stages of
signals. Hence, in more sophisticated equipment, amplification at this frequency.
the AGC circuits may be designed to provide a In order to tune the receiver, the first local
delay so that there is no gain reduction until a oscillator is either made variable (using
predetermined threshold voltage is exceeded. In conventional tuned circuits) or is synthesised
receivers that feature delayed AGC there is no using digital phase-locked loop techniques (see
gain reduction until a certain threshold voltage is page 53). The second local oscillator is almost
achieved. Beyond this, there is a progressive invariably crystal controlled in order to ensure
reduction in gain (see Figure 3.20). good stability and an accurate relationship
52 Aircraft communications and navigation systems



Figure 3.21 A double conversion superhet receiver

between the two intermediate frequencies. Second oscillator injection

Typical IF bandwidths in the receiver shown in
Figure 3.21 are 75 kHz at the first IF and a mere 6 Image First IF
kHz in the second IF.
The first IF filter (not shown in Figure 3.21) is
connected in the signal path between the first and
second mixer. Where a stage of amplification is L45~ ~.
455 kHz
provided at the first IF, the filter precedes the
amplifier stage. The requirements of the filter are
not stringent since the ultimate selectivity of the
receiver is defined by the second IF filter which 9.785 10.240 10.695
operates at the much lower frequency of 455 kHz. Frequency (MHZ)
There are, however, some good reasons for
using a filter which offers a high degree of
Figure 3.22 Second oscillator signal
rejection of the unwanted second mixer image
response which occurs at 9.785 MHz. If this
image is present at the input of the second mixer,
it will mix with the second mixer injection at Test your understanding 3.8
10.240 MHz to produce a second IF component
of 455 kHz, as shown in Figure 3.22. The Explain why AGC is necessary in an HF
ifinction of the first IF filter is thus best described communications receiver and how it is applied.
as roofing; bandwidth is a less important
Transmitters and receivers 53

3.11 Digital frequency synthesis By comparison with todays equipment such

arrangements were crude, employing as many as
The signals used within high-specification radio nine or ten i.c. devices. Complex as they were,
frequency equipment (both receivers and these PLL circuits were more cost-effective than
transmitters) must be both accurate and stable. their comparable multi-crystal mixing synthesiser
Where operation is restricted to a single counterparts. With the advent of large scale
frequency or a limited number of channels, quartz integration in the late 1970s, the frequency
crystals may be used to determine the frequency generating unit in most radio equipment could be
of operation. However, when a large number of reduced to one, or perhaps two, LSI devices
frequencies must be covered, it is necessary to together with a handful of additional discrete
employ digital frequency generating techniques in components. The cost-effectiveness of this
which a single quartz crystal oscillator is used in approach is now beyond question and it is
conjunction with LSI circuitry to generate a range unlikely that, at least in the most basic equipment,
of discrete frequencies. These frequencies usually much ~rther refinement will be made. In the area
have a constant channel spacing (typically 3 kHz, of more complex receivers and transceivers,
8.33 kHz, 9 kHz, 12.5 kHz, 25 kHz, etc.). however, we are now witnessing a further
Frequencies are usually selected by means of a revolution in the design of synthesised radio
rotary switch, push-buttons or a keypad but can equipment with the introduction of dedicated
also be stored in semiconductor memories. microcomputer controllers which permit keypad
Digital phase locked loop (PLL) circuitry was programmed channel selection and scanning with
first used in military communications equipment pause, search, and lock-out facilities.
in the mid-1960s and resulted from the need to The most basic form of PLL consists of a phase
generate a very large number of highly accurate detector, filter, DC amplifier and voltage
and stable frequencies in a multi-channel controlled oscillator (VCO), as shown in Figure
frequency synthesiser. In this particular 3.23. The VCO is designed so that its free-
application cost was not a primary consideration running frequency is at, or near, the reference
and highly complex circuit arrangements could be frequency. The phase detector senses any error
employed involving large numbers of discrete between the VCO and reference frequencies. The
components and integrated circuits. output of the phase detector is fed, via a suitable
Phase locked loop techniques did not arrive in filter and amplifier, to the DC control voltage
mass-produced equipment until the early 1970s. input of the VCO. If there is any discrepancy


r\~r\f\f\~ ~J!~!

Figure 3.23 A simple phase locked loop

54 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

between the VCO output and the reference When the loop is locked (i.e. when no phase error
frequency, an error voltage is produced and this is exists) we can infer that:
used to correct the VCO frequency. The VCO
thus remains locked to the reference frequency. If ~ or L =nfrnf
the reference frequency changes, so does the
VCO. The bandwidth of the system is determined A similar divider arrangement can also be used at
by the time constants of the loop filter. In the reference input to the phase detector, as
practice, if the VCO and reference frequencies are shown in Figure 3.25. The frequency appearing at
very far apart, the PLL may be unable to lock. the reference input to the phase detector will be
The frequency range over which the circuit can fdIm and the loop will be locked when:
achieve lock is known as the capture range. It
should be noted that a PLL takes a finite time to
f~ =10 or 11

in n 112
achieve a locked condition and that the VCO
locks to the mean value of the reference Thus if f~, ii and in were respectively 100 kHz,
frequency. 2,000 and 10, the output frequency,J01, would be:
The basic form of PLL shown in Figure 3.23 is (2,000/10) x 100 kHz 20 MHz
limited in that the reference frequency is the same
as that of the VCO and no provision is If the value of ii can be made to change by
incorporated for changing it, other than by replacing the fixed divider with a programmable
varying the frequency of the reference oscillator divider, different output frequencies can be
itself. In practice, it is normal for the phase generated. If, for example, n was variable from
detector to operate at a much lower frequency 2,000 to 2,100 in steps of I, thenL0~ would range
than that of the VCO output and thus a frequency from 20 MHz to 21 MHz in 10 kHz steps. Figure
divider is incorporated in the VCO feedback path 3.26 shows the basic arrangement of a PLL which
(see Figure 3.24). The frequency presented to the incorporates a programmable divider driven from
phase detector will thus be fgn, where n is the the equipments digital frequency controller
divisor. (usually a microprocessor).




Figure 3.24 A phase locked loop with frequency divider

Transmitters and receivers 55


EL Frequency


El Buffer/amplifier


Figure 3.25 A complete digital frequency synthesiser

In practice, problems can sometimes arise in devices in the RF amplifier, mixer, and product
high-frequency synthesisers where the detector stages and junction gate FETs in the
programmable frequency divider, or divide-by-n local oscillator stage. These devices offer high
counter, has a restricted tipper frequency limit. In gain with excellent strongsignal handling
such cases it will be necessary to mix the high capability. They also permit simple and effective
frequency VCO output with a stable locally coupling between stages without the need for
generated signal derived from a crystal oscillator. complex impedance matching.
The mixer output (a relatively low difference The receiver is tunable over the frequency
frequency) will then be within the range of the range 5.0 MHz to 6.0 MHz. Used in conjunction
programmable divider. with a simple antenna, it offers reception of
aircraft signals at distances in excess of 1,000 km.
The receiver is based on the single superhet
3.12 A design example principle operating with an intermediate
frequency of 455 kHz. This frequency is low
We shall bring this chapter to a conclusion by enough to ensure reasonable selectivity with just
providing a design example of a complete HF two stages of IF amplification and with the aid of
communications receiver. This receiver was a low-cost 455 kHz filter. Adequate image
developed by the author for monitoring trans rejection is provided by two high-Q ganged RF
Atlantic HF communications in the 5.5 MHz tuned circuits.
aircraft band. The circuit caters for the reception The design uses conventional discrete
of AM, CW (Morse code) and SSB signals (see component circuitry in all stages with the
Chapter 5). To aid stability, the C1O/BFO exception of the audio amplifier/output stage and
frequency is controlled by means of a ceramic voltage regulator. This approach ensures that the
resonator. The RF performance is greatly receiver is simple and straightforward to align
enhanced by the use of dual gate MOSFET and does not suffer from the limitations



Signat meter

+5V DC input


Figure 3.26 Superhet receiver design example

Transmitters and receivers 57

associated with several of the popular integrated The local oscillator stage (TR7) provides the
circuit IF stages. necessary local oscillator signal which tunes from
The block diagram of the receiver is shown in 5.455 MHz to 6.455 MHz. The local oscillator
Figure 3.26. The vast majority of the receivers signal is isolated from the mixer stage and the LO
gain and selectivity is associated with the two IF output by means of the buffer stage, TR8.
stages, TR3 and TR4. These two stages provide The receiver incorporates two detector stages,
over 40 dB of voltage gain and the three IF tuned one for AM and one for CW and SSB. The AM
circuits and filter are instrumental in reducing the detector makes use of a simple diode envelope
IF bandwidth to about 3.4 kHz for SSB reception. detector (03) whilst the CW/SSB detector is
The RF stage (TR1) provides a modest amount of based on a product detector (TR5). This stage
RF gain (about 20 dB at the maximum RF gain offers excellent performance with both weak and
setting) together with a significant amount of strong CW and SSB signals. The 455 kHz carrier
image channel rejection. insertion is provided by means of the BFO/CIO



To A
Ski (IF ampItoorl


Ground ov
From S
(Intel mdIIiIor(

Figure 3.27 RF stages of the superhet receiver


To C (AGO amplitier)

To D (AM detectordiller)

To C (product detector)


From F (AGO blat)

Figure 3.28 IF stages of the superhet receiver

58 Aircraft communicatIons and navigation systems


Figure 3.29 Local oscillator and buffer stages of the superhet receiver


From S
(455 kHz IF)


Figure 3.30 Product detector and BFO/CIO stages of the superhet receiver


ExI. speaker
4k? sic
From 0
(AM delecIor)


From G
(555/OW deteclor)

Figure 3.31 AF stages of the superhet receiver

Transmitters and receivers 59

C-l2dBcN ) S4b

From C From Sic To RFTI

(IF oulpul) Lo-Z np
To F
(ACC bias)

(b) RF input attenuator

(a) signal meter and AGC amplifier

To X To X
(AF amplilier) IAF amplilier)

010 DII C48+I

OASI 0A91 22u

C46 C47 LI
loOn Is ~4OmH

SB ( FILT[i~)

(c) Noise limiter (d) Audio filter

Figure 3.32 Signal meter, AGO. RF input attenuator, noise limiter and audio filter stages

P0,0,, automatic changeover for the external DC or AC
supplies. This circuitry also provides charging
5. DC
current for the internal nickel-cadmium (NiCd)
battery pack.

3 13 Multiple choice questions

I. A receiver in which selected signals of any
frequency are converted to a single frequency
Figure 3.33 Power supply is called a:
(a) wideband TRF
(b) multi-channel receiver
stage (TRI I). Amplified AGC is provided by (c) superhet receiver.
means ofTR9 and TRiO.
A conventional integrated circuit audio 2. Delayed AGC:
amplifier stage (IC1) provides the audio gain (a) maintains receiver sensitivity for very
necessary to drive a small loudspeaker. A 5 V small signals
regulator (1C2) is used to provide a stabilised (b) increases receiver sensitivity for very large
low-voltage DC rail for the local oscillator and signals
buffer stages. Diode switching is used to provide (c) has no effect on receiver sensitivity.
60 Aircraft digital electronic and computer systems

3. A receiver with a high IF will successfully 10. The response of two coupled tuned circuits
reject: appears to be double-humped. This is a
(a) the image frequency result of:
(b) the adjacent frequency (a) undercoupling
(c) the local oscillator frequency. (b) overcoupling
(c) critical coupling.
4. An IF amplifier consists of several stages.
These are normally coupled using: II. A disadvantage of low-level amplitude
(a) resistorlcapacitor coupling modulation is the need for:
(b) pure resistor coupling (a) a high-power audio amplifier
(c) transformer coupling. (b) a high-power RF amplifier
(c) a linear RF power amplifier.
5. SSB filters have a typical bandwidth of:
(a) less than 300 Hz 12.The function of an antenna coupling unit in a
(b) 3 kHzto 6 kHz transmitter is:
(c) more than 10 kHz. (a) to provide a good match between the RF
power amplifier and the antenna
6. The output signal of a diode detector (b) to increase the harmonic content of the
comprises the modulated waveform, a small radiated signal
ripple and a DC component. The DC (c) the reduce the antenna SWR to zero.
component is:
(a) independent of the carrier strength 13. In order to improve the stability of a local
(b) proportional to the carrier strength oscillator stage:
(c) inversely proportional to the carrier (a) a separate buffer stage should be used
strength. (b) the output signal should be filtered
(c) an IF filter should be used.
7. What is the principal function of the RF stage
in a superhet receiver? 14. A dual conversion superhet receiver uses:
(a) To improve the sensitivity of the receiver (a) a low first IF and a high second IF
(b) To reduce second channel interference (b) a high first IF and a low second IF
(c) To reduce adjacent channel interference. (c) the same frequency for both first and
second IF.
8. A receiver having an IF of 1.6 MHz is tuned
to a frequency of 12.8 MHz. Which of the 15. The majority of the gain in a superhet receiver
following signals could cause image channel is provided by:
interference? (a) the RF amplifier stage
(a) 11.2 MHz (b) the IF amplifier stage
(b) 14.5 MHz (c) the AF amplifier stage.
(c) 16.0 MHz.
16. Image channel rejection in a superhet receiver
9. In an FM transmitter, the modulating signal is is improved by:
applied to: (a) using an IF filter
(a) the final RF amplifier stage (b) using a low IF
(b) the antenna coupling unit (c) using a high IF.
(c) the RF oscillator stage.
Chapter VHF

Very high frequency (VHF) radio has long been
the primary means of communication between
aircraft and the ground. The system operates in Ground stalion
the frequency range extending from 118 MHz to
137 MHz and supports both voice and data
communication (the latter becoming increasingly
..Approxtmate range_....~_
important). This chapter describes the equipment
used and the different modes in which it operates.
VHF communication is used for various Figure 4.1 VHF line-of-sight range
purposes including air traffic control (ATC),
approach and departure information, transmission
Example 4.1
of meteorological information, ground handling
of aircraft, company communications, and also
Determine the maximum line-of-sight distance
for the Aircraft Communications and Reporting
when an aircraft is flying at a height of (a) 2,500
System (ACARS).
feet, and (b) 25,000 feet.

In (a), h = 2,500 hence:

4.1 VHF range and propagation
d = l.1g2,sOO = 1.1 x 50 = 55 nm
In the VHF range (30 MHz to 300 MHz) radio In (b), Ii = 25,000 hence:
waves usually propagate as direct line-of-sight
(LOS) waves (see Chapter 1). Sky wave d=1.1g25,000=J.lx]58=174nm
propagation still occurs at the bottom end of the
VHF range (up to about 50 MHz depending upon The actual range obtained depends not only on
solar activity) but at the frequencies used for the LOS distance but also on several other
aircraft communication, reflection from the factors, including aircraft position, transmitter
ionosphere is exceptionally rare. power, and receiver sensitivity. However, the
Communication by strict line-of-sight (LOS) LOS distance usually provides a good
paths, augmented on occasions by diffraction and approximation of the range that can be obtained
reflection, imposes a limit on the working range between an aircraft and a ground station (see
that can be obtained. It should also be evident that Table 4.1). The situation is slightly more complex
the range will be dependent on the height of an when communication is from one aircraft to
aircraft above the ground; the greater this is the another; however, in such cases summing the two
further the range will be. LOS distances will normally provide a guide as to
The maximum line-of-sight (LOS) distance the maximum range that can be expected.
(see Figure 4.1) between an aircraft and a ground
station, in nautical miles (nm), is given by the
relationship: Test your understanding 4.1
d =1. l~J~ Determine the altitude of an aircraft that would
where /i is the aircrafts altitude in feet above provide a line-of-sight distance to a ground station
ground (assumed to be flat terrain). located at a distance of 125 nm.
62 Aircraft communications and navigation systems
Table 4.1 Theoretical LOS range
Radio frequency carrier

Altitude (feet,) App rox. LOS range (nm)

100 10
Lower side frequency upper side frequency
1,000 32 (LSF)

5,000 70
10,000 100
20,000 141
124.574 MHz 124.576 Ml-lz
124575 MHz
4.2 DSB modulation
Amplitude modulation is used for voice Figure 4.2 Frequency spectrum of an RF
communications as well as several of the VHF carrier using DSB modulation and a pure
data link (VDL) modes. The system uses double sinusoidal modulating signal
sideband (DSB) modulation and, because this Radio rroqebnicycalnier
has implications for the bandwidth of modulated
signals, it is worth spending a little time
explaining how this works before we look at how I Audio frequency
moduta seq signal
the available space is divided into channels.
Figure 4.2 shows the frequency spectrum of an
RF carrier wave at 124.575 MHz amplitude
modulated by a single pure sinusoidal tone with a
frequency of 1 kHz. Note how the amplitude
modulated waveform comprises three separate
F, .00Hz 345Hz 5
Len or sidebana

_3.4 kHz
uppor sideband


5 ~4 kHz

components: 7 kHz appror.

o an RF carrier at 124.575 MHz Figure 4.3 Frequency spectrum of a

o a lower side frequency (LSF) component at baseband voice signal (left) and the resulting
124.574 MHz DSB AM RF carrier (note that the bandwidth
o an upper side frequency (USF) component at of the RF signal is approximately twice that
124.576 MHz. of the highest modulating signal frequency)
Note how the LSF and USF are spaced away
from the RF carrier by a frequency that is equal to select this particular range of frequencies and
that of the modulating signal (in this case I kHz). reject any audio signals that lie outside it. From
Note also from Figure 4.2 that the bandwidth Figure 4.3 it should be noted that the bandwidth
(i.e. the range of frequencies occupied by the of the RF signal is approximately 7 kHz (i.e.
modulated signal) is twice the frequency of the twice that of the highest modulating signal).
modulating signal (i.e. 2 kHz).
Figure 4.3 shows an RF carrier modulated by a
speech signal rather than a single sinusoidal tone.
The baseband signal (i.e. the voice signal itself) Test your understanding 4.2
typically occupies a frequency range extending
from around 300 Hz to 3.4 kHz. Indeed, to Determine the RF signal frequency components
improve intelligibility and reduce extraneous present in a DSB amplitude modulated carrier
noise, the frequency response of the microphone wave at 118.975 MHz when the modulating signal
comprises pure tones at 2 kHz and 5 kHz.
and speech amplifier is invariable designed to
VHF communications 63

4.3 Channel spacing

VHF aircraft communications take place in a
number of allocated channels. These channels
were originally spaced at 200 kHz intervals
throughout the VHF aircraft band. However, a
relentless increase in air traffic coupled with the (a) 25 tHe channel spacing
increasing use of avionic systems for data link
communication has placed increasing demands on
the available frequency spectrum. In response to
this demand, the spacing between adjacent
channels in the hand 118 Ml-lz to 137 MHz has
been successively reduced so as to increase the
number of channels available for VHF 833kHz
communication (see Table 4.2).
Ib) 833 tHe channel spacing
Figure 4.4 shows the channel spacing for the
earlier 25 kHz and current European 8.33 kHz
VHF systems. Note how the 8.33 kHz system of Figure 4.4 25 kHz and 8.33 kHz channel
channel spacing allows three DSB AM signals to spacing
occupy the space that was previously occupied by
a single signal.
The disadvantage of narrow channel spacing is Test your understanding 4.3
that the guard band of unused spectrum that
previously existed with the 25 kHz system is How many channels at a spacing of 12.5 kHz can
completely absent and that receivers must be occupy the band extending from 118 MHz to
designed so that they have a very high degree of 125 MHz?
adjacent channel rejection (see page 48). Steps
must also be taken to ensure that the bandwidth of
the transmitted signal does not exceed the 7 kHz,
or so, bandwidth required for effective voice Test your understanding 4.4
communication. The penalty for not restricting
the bandwidth is that signals from one channel A total of 1520 data channels are to be
may spill over into the adjacent channels, accommodated in a band extending from
causing interference and degrading com 316 MHz to 335 MHz. What channel spacing must
munication (see Figure 4.7). be used and what range of frequencies can the
baseband signal have?

Table 4.2 Increase in the number of

available VHF channels
4.4 Depth of modulation
Dale , Channel Nainbe, of
l,eqi,ency range -
spacing channels The depth of modulation of an RF carrier wave is
1947 118MHz toI32MHz 200kHz 70 usually expressed in terms of percentage
1958 118 MHz to 132 MHz 100 kHz 140 modulation, as shown in Figure 4.6. Note that
the level of modulation can vary between 0%
1959 118M1-lz to 136MHz 00kHz 180
(corresponding to a completely unmodulated
1964 118 M1-Iz to 136 MHz 50 kHz 360 carrier) to 100% (corresponding to a fully
1972 118 MHz to 136 MHz 25 kHz 720 modulated carrier).
1979 118MHz toI37MHz
In practice, the intelligibility of a signal (i.e.
25kHz 760
the ability to recover information from a weak
1995 [18 MHz to 137 MHz 8.33 kHz 2280 signal that may be adversely affected by noise
64 Aircraft communications and navigation systems
Adlacent channel inierference
and other disturbances) increases as the
percentage modulation increases and hence there
is a need to ensure that a transmitted signal is
filly modulated but without the attendant risk of
over-modulation (see Fig. 4.6). The result of
over-modulation is excessive bandwidth, or
splatter, causing adjacent channel interference,
as shown in Fig. 4.7.
H~HH~H 056 signal ~slh excessive bandwidth
due to overmodulalion

Figure 4.7 Adjacent channel interference

caused by overmodulation
(a) 0%

4.5 Compression
In order to improve the intelligibility of VHF
voice communications, the speech amplifier stage
(b) 20% of an aircraft VHF radio is invariably fitted with a
compressor stage. This stage provides high gain
for low amplitude signals and reduced gain for
high amplitude signals. The result is an increase
in the average modulation depth (see Figure 4.8).
Figure 4.9 shows typical speech amplifier
characteristics with and without compression.
Note that most aircraft VHF radio equipment
provides adjustment both for the level of
modulation and for the amount of compression
that is applied (see Figure 4.10).

(d) 100%

No compression

Figure 4.5 Different modulation depths

3 dB compression
carrier completely cut-off

6dB compression

Figure 4.8 Modulated RF carrier showing

different amounts of compression applied to
Figure 4.6 Over-modulation the modulating signal
VHF communications 65
Average modulation depth
The alternative (and somewhat superior) squelch
lon% system involves sensing the noise present at the
output of the receivers detector stage and using
this to develop a control signal which is
dependent on the signal-to-noise ratio of the
50% received signal rather than its amplitude. This
latter technique, which not only offers better
sensitivity but is also less prone to triggering
from general background noise and off-channel
signals, is often found in FM receivers and is
0% referred to as noise operated squelch.
Speech level

Figure 4.9 Effect of compression on

average modulation depth 4 7 Data modes
Modern aircraft VHF communications equipment
supports both data communication as well as
voice communication. The system used for the
aircraft data link is known as Aircraft
Communications Addressing and Reporting
System (ACARS). Currently, aircraft are
equipped with three VHF radios, two of which
are used for ATC voice communications and one
is used for the ACARS data link (also referred to
as airline operational control communications).
A data link terminal on board the aircraft (see
Figure 4.12) generates downlink messages and
Figure 4.10 VHF radio adjustment points processes uplink messages received via the VHF
data link. The downlink and uplink ACARS
messages are encoded as plain ASCII text. In the
Unites States, the ACARS ground stations are
4.6 Squelch operated by ARINC whilst in Europe, Asia and
Latin America, the equivalent service is provided
Aircraft VHF leceivers invariably incorporate a by SITA.
system of muting the receiver audio stages in the Initially each VHF ACARS provider was
absence of an incoming signal. This system is allocated a single VHF channel. However, as the
designed to eliminate the annoying and use of VHF data links (VDL) has grown, the
distracting background noise that is present when number of channels used in the vicinity of the
no signals are being received. Such systems are busiest airports has increased to as many as four
referred to as squelch and the threshold at which and these are often operating at full capacity.
this operates is adjusted (see Figure 4.10) so that Unfortunately, due to the pressure for
the squelch opens for a weak signal but closes additional voice channels, it has not been possible
when no signal is present. to assign a number of additional VHF channels
Two quite different squelch systems are used for ACARS data link operation. As a result,
but the most common (and easy to implement) several new data modes have recently been
system responds to the amplitude of the received introduced that support higher data rates and
carrier and is known as carrier operated make more efficient use of each 25 kHz channel
squelch. The voltage used to inhibit the receiver currently assigned for data link purposes.
audio can be derived from the receivers AGC In addition, the FAA is developing a system
system and fed to the squelch gate (Figure 4.11). that will permit the integration of ATC voice and
66 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) No signal present (squelch gate open)



(b) Signal presenl (squelch gale closed)

Figure 4.11 Action of the squelch system

data comnmnications. This system uses digitally there is no phase change on the transition between
encoded audio rather than conventional analogue the two tones.
voice signals. This type of modulation (in which the
When operating in VDL Mode 0, the required frequency spacing between the two audio tones is
data link protocols are implemented in the exactly half the data rate) is highly efficient in
ACARS management unit (see Figure 4.1 1). terms of bandwidth and is thus referred to as
Data is transferred from the VHF radio to the minimum shift keying (MSK). When data is
management unit at a rate of 2400 hits per second transmitted, the MSK signal is used to modulate
(bps) by means of frequency shift keying (FSK). the amplitude of the VHF carrier (in much the
The FSK audio signal consists of two sinusoidal same was as the voice signal). The resultant
tones, one at a 1.2 kHz and one at 2.4 kHz transmitted signal is then a double side-band
depending on whether the polarity of the (DSB) AM signal whose amplitude is modulated
information bit being transmitted is the same as at 2400 bps. The RF carrier is then said to use
that of the previous bit or is different. Note that DSB AM MSK modulation.
the phase of the tones varies linearly and that VHF carrier frequency selection and transmitl
VHF communications 67

Table 4.3 Summary of voice and data modes

Channel Radio
Mode Modulation Access method Data rate Type of traffic
spacing tate,face

Voice DSB AM 25/833 kHz PTT Not applicable Voice Analogue

Data (Mode 0) 25 kHz CSMA 2,400 bps ACARS Analogue
Data (Mode A) 25 kHz CSMA 2,400 bps ACARS ARINC 429

Data (Mode 2) D8PSK ACARS and

25 kHz CSMA 31,500 bps AR1NC 429

receive control is provided by the ACARS aeronautical telecommunications network (ATN).

management unit working in conjunction with an This network will permit more efficient and
ARINC 429 interface to the VI-IF radio (Figure seamless delivery of data messages and data files
4.12). The channel access protocol employed is between aircraft and the ground computer
known as carrier sense multiple access systems used by airlines and air traffic control
(CSMA). It consists of listening for activity on facilities.
the channel (i.e. transmissions from other users) ATN will be supported by a number of air/
and transmitting only when the channel is free. ground networks and ground/ground networks.
Operation in VUL Mode A is similar to Mode The air/ground and ground/ground networks will
0 except uplink and downlink ACARS data be interconnected by means of ATN routers that
packets are transferred between the VHF radio implement the required protocols and will operate
and the ACARS management unit via a transmit? in much the same way as the Internet with which
receive pair of 100 kbps ARINC 429 digital you are probably already familiar.
interfaces rather than the analogue audio interface VDL Mode 2 employs a data rate of 31,500
used by Mode 0. The digital data is then used by bits per second over the air/ground link using a
the VHF radio to modulate the RF carrier at a rate single 25 kHz channel. The increased utilization
of 2400 bps using the same DSB AM MSK of the 25 kHz channel is achieved by employing a
modulation scheme used by VDL Mode 0. system of modulation that is more efficient in
Another difference between VDL Mode 0 and terms of its use of bandwidth. This system is
VDL Mode A is that, when using the latter, the known as differential eight phase shift keying
VHF radio controls when to access the channel to (D8PSK). In this system, an audio carrier signal
transmit data using the same CSMA protocol is modulated be means of shift in phase that can
employed by the management unit in VDL Mode take one of eight possible phases; 0, 45, 90,
0. However, the selection of the frequency to be 135, 180, 225, 270 or 315. These phase
used is still controlled by the CMU or ATSU by changes correspond to three bits of digital data as
means of commands issued via the same ARINC follows: 000, 001, 011, 010, 110, Ill, 101, or
429 interface used for data transfer. Note that, as 100. The D8PSK modulator uses the bits in the
far as the VHF data link ground stations are data message, in groups of three, to determine the
concerned, there is no difference in the air?ground carrier phase change at a rate of 10.5 kHz.
VDL Mode 0 or VDL Mode A transmissions. Consequently, the bit rate will be three times this
Operation in VDL Mode 2 is based on an value, or 31.5 kbps. D8PSK modulation of the
improved -set of data transfer protocols and, as a phase of the VHF carrier is accomplished using a
result, it provides a significant increase in data quadrature modulator, Note that, in D8PSK
capacity. VDL Mode 2 has been designed to modulation, groups of three bits are often referred
provide for the future migration of VDL to the to as D8PSK symbols.
68 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

VDL Mode 3 offers an alternative to the some features that are similar to those currently
European solution of reducing the channel used for electronic mail.
spacing to 8.33 kHz. VDL Mode 3 takes a 25 kHz The ACARS system was originally specified in
frequency assignment and divides it into 120 ms the ARINC 597 standard but has been revised as
frames with four 30 ms time slots (each of which ARINC 724B. A significant feature of ACARS is
constitutes a different channel). Thus Mode 3 the ability to provide real-time data on the ground
employs time division multiplexing (TDM) relating to aircraft performance; this has made it
rather than frequency division multiplexing possible to identi& and plan aircraft maintenance
(FDM) used in the European system. Note that activities.
VDL Mode 3 is the only planned VDL mode that ACARS communications are automatically
is designed to support voice and data traffic on directed through a series of ground-based ARfNC
the same frequency. (Aeronautical Radio Inc.) computers to the
relevant aircraft operator. The system helps to
VHF antenna reduce the need for mundane HF and VHF voice
messages and provides a system which can be
logged and tracked. Typical ACARS messages
are used to convey routine information such as:

Microphone passenger loads

(with PiT) departure reports
Speaker or o arrival reports
headphones thel data
engine performance data.
This information can be requested by the
company and retrieved from the aircraft at
periodic intervals or on demand. Prior to ACARS
this type of information would have been
transferred via VHF voice.
ACARS uses a variety of hardware and
software components including those that are
installed on the ground and those that are present

Figure 4.13 VHF radio data management

ACARS mode: E Aircraft reg: N27015
Message label: Hi Block Id: 3
Msg no: C36C
4.8 ACARS Flight id: C00004
Message content:
ACARS (Aircraft Communication Addressing #CFBBY ATTITUDE INDICATOR
MSG 2820121 A 0051 06SEP06 CL H PL
and Reporting System) is a digital data link DB FUEL QUANTITY PROCESSOR UNIT
system transmitted in the VHF range (118 MHz MSG 3180141 A 0024 06SEP06 TA I 23
to 136 MHz). ACARS provides a means by PL
which aircraft operators can exchange data with DB DISPLAYS2 IN LEFT AIMS
an aircraft without human intervention. This MSG 2394201 A 0005 06SEP06 ES H Pt
makes it possible for an airline to communicate MSC 2717018
with the aircraft in their fleet in much the same
way as it is possible to exchange data using a
land-based digital network. ACARS uses an Figure 4.14 Example of a downlink ACARS
aircrafts unique identifier and the system has message sent from a Boeing 777 aircraft
VHF communications 69

in the aircraft. The aircraft ACARS components ACARS mode: 2

include a management unit (see Figure 4.12) Aircraft reg: GDBCC
which deals with the reception and transmission Message label: 5U
Block id: 4
of messages via the VHF radio transceiver, and
Msg no: M55A
the control unit which provides the crew Flight id: BDO1NZ
interface and consists of a display screen and Message content:
printer. The ACARS ground network comprises Dl WXRQ 01HZ/OS EGLL/EBBF .GDBCC
the ARINC ACARS remote transmitting! /TYP 4/STA EBBR!STA EBOS/STA EBCI
receiving stations and a network of computers
and switching systems. The ACARS command,
control and management subsystem consists of Figure 4.14 Example of an ACARS message
the ground-based airline operations and (see text)
associated functions including operations control,
maintenance and crew scheduling.
There are two types of ACARS messages;
downlink messages that originate from the ACARS mode: 2 Aircraft reg: N788UA
Message label: RA Block id: L
aircraft and uplink messages that originate from
Msg. no: QUHD
ground stations (see Figures 4.14 to 4.17). Flight id: QWDUA
Frequencies used for the transmission and Message content:
reception of ACARS messages are in the band WEIGHT MANIFEST
extending from 129 MHz to 137 MHz (VHF) as UA930 SFOLHR
shown in Table 4.4. Note that different channels SF0
are used in different parts of the world. A typical ZFW 383485
ACARS message (see Figure 4.14) consists of: TOG 559485
MAC 40.1
mode identifier (e.g. 2) TRIM 02.8
aircraft identifier (e.g. G-DBCC) PSGRS 285
message label (e.g. 5Ua weather request)
block identifier (e.g. 4) Figure 4.15 Example of aircraft transmitted
message number (e.g. M55A) data (in this case, a weight manifest)
flight number (e.g. BDOINZ)
message content (see Figure 4.14).

ACARS mode: X Aircraft reg: N199XX

Table 4.4 ACARS channels Message label: Hi Block Id: 7
Msg no: FOOM
light Id: GS0000
Frequency A CARS service Message content:
129.125 MHz USA and Canada (additional) INTERFACE
130.025 MHz USA and Canada (secondary) TEAS FAIL ADVISORY
130.450 MHz USA and Canada (additional) T RRAIN 1-2 FAIL ADVISORY
131.125 MHz USA (additional)
2210 221009ATA1 OC=l
13 1.475 MHz Japan (primary) TQA FAULT ~ATAi]
131.525 MHz Europe (secondary) 2210 221009ATA
13 1.550 MHz USA, Canada, Australia (primary)
131.725 MHz Europe (primary)
Figure 4.16 Example of a failure advisory
136.900 MHz Europe (additional) message transmitted from an aircraft
70 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

ACARS mode: F Aircrart reg: GEUPR

Message label: 10 Block Id: S
M g no: MO6A
Flight id: BAO1SZ
~es age content:
BA1 304
ETL 0740 GMT

Figure 4.17 Example of a plain text message Figure 4.18 Three VHF radios (on the
sent via ACARS extreme left) installed in the aircrafts avionic
equipment bay

Test your understanding 4.5

Explain the need for (a) speech compression and
(b) squelch in an aircraft VHF radio. 411

Test your understanding 4.6

Explain, with the aid of a block diagram, how data p
transfer is possible using an aircraft VHF radio.

Figure 4.19 VHF communications frequency

selection panel (immediately above the ILS
Test your understanding 4.7 panel)

Explain the difference between MSK and D8PSK
modulation. Why is the latter superior?

4.9 VHF radio equipment

The typical specification of a modern aircraft ~
VHF data radio is shown in Table 4.5. This radio
can be used with analogue voice as well as data in
Modes 0, A and 2 (see page 65). Figures 4.18 to
4.20 show typical equipment and control
locations in a passenger aircraft whilst Figures
4.21 to 4.24 show internal and external views of a
typical VHF radio, Finally, Figure 4.25 shows a Figure 4.20 ACARS control panel
typical VHF quarter-wave blade antenna fitted to (immediately to the right of the VHF
an Airbus A380 aircraft. communications frequency selection panel)
VHF communications 71

Figure 4.22 Digital frequency synthesiser

stages of the VHF radio. The quartz crystal
controlled reference oscillator is at the
bottom left corner and the frequency divider
chain runs from left to right with the screened
VCO at the top
Figure 4.21 Aircraft VHF radio removed from
its rack mounting

Table 4.5 Aircraft VHF radio specifications

Porcine/er Specification

Frequency range I 18.00 MI-Ix to 136.99167 MHz

Channel spacing 8.33 kHz or 25 kHz
Operating modes Analogue voice (ARINC 716);
Analogue data 2400 bps AM MSK
ACARS (external modem);
ARINC 750 Mode A analogue data
2400 bps AM MSK ACARS; Figure 4.23 Screened receiver pre-amplifier
Mode 2 data 3l.5 kbps D8ISK and transmitter power amplifier stages (top)
Sensitivity 2 pV for 6dB (5+N)/N
Selectivity 6 dt3 max. atlenttation at 16 ki-lz
(25 kl-Iz channels) 60 dB mm. attenuation at 34 kHz
Selectivity 6dB max. attenuation at 5.5 kHz
(8.33 kHz channels) 60 dO thin, attenuation at 14.7 kHz
Attdio power outpttt Adjustable from less than 50 ~tW to
50 m into 600 0 20%
RF outpttt power 25 W mi DSI3 AM operation
1$ W thin. D8PSK operation
Frequency stability 0.005%
Modutlation level 0.25 V RMS input at I kit will
tiiodulate t he tta nstn itter at least 90%
Speech processing Greater than 20 dO orcompression Figure 4.24 RF power amplifier stages with
M can ti me Greater than 4(),000 hours the screening removed. There are three
between railure linear power stages and one driver (left)
72 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5. The function of the compressor stage in an

aircraft VHF radio is:
(a) to reduce the average level of modulation
(b) to increase the average level of modulation
(c) to produce 100% modulation at all times.

6. The function of the squelch stage in an

aircraft VHF radio is:
(a) to eliminate noise when no signal is
(b) to increase the sensitivity of the receiver
for weak signals
(c) to remove unwanted adjacent channel

7. Large passenger aircraft normally carry:

(a) two VHF radios
(b) three VHF radios
Figure 4.25 The forward quarter-wave VHF (c) four VHF radios.
blade antenna on the Airbus A380 (see page
15 for the VHF antenna locations on a 8. The typical bandwidth of a DSB AM voice
Boeing 757) signal is:
(a) 3.4 kHz
(b) 7 kHz
4.10 Multiple choice questions (c) 25 kHz.
1. The angle between successive phase changes 9. The disadvantage of narrow channel spacing
of a D8PSK signal is: is:
(a) 45 (a) the need for increased receiver sensitivity
(b) 900 (b) the possibility of adjacent channel
(a) 180. interference
(c) large amounts of wasted space between
2. The method of modulation currently channels.
employed for aircraft VHF voice
communication is: 10. The standard for ACARS is defined in:
(a) MSK (a) ARINC 429
(b) D8PSK (b) ARINC 573
(c) DSB AM. (c) ARINC 724.

3. The channel spacing currently used in Europe 11 The frequency band currently used in Europe

for aircraft VHF voice communication is: for aircraft VHF voice communication is:
(a) 8.33 kHz and 25 kHz (a) 88 MHz to 108 MHz
(b) 12.5 kHz and 25 kHz (b) 108 MHz to 134 MHz
(c) 25 kHz and 50 kHz. (c) 118 MHz to 137 MHz.
4. Which one of the following gives the 12. The typical output power of an aircraft VHF
approximate LOS range for an aircraft at an radio using voice mode is:
altitude of 15,000 feet? (a) 25 W
(a) 74 nm (b) 150W
(b) 96 nm (c) 300 W.
(c) 135 nm.
Chapter HF
5 communications

High frequency (HF) radio provides aircraft with

an effective means of communication over long
distance oceanic and trans-polar routes. In
addition, global data communication has recently
been made possible using strategically located HF
data link (I-IFDL) ground stations. These provide
access to ARINC and SITA airline networks. HF
communication is thus no longer restricted to
voice and is undergoing a resurgence of interest
due to the need to find a means of long distance
data communication that will augment existing
VHF and SATCOM data links.
An aircraft HF radio system operates on spot
frequencies within the HF spectrum. Unlike
aircraft VHF radio, the spectrum is not divided
into a large number of contiguous channels but
aircraft allocations are interspersed with many
other services, including short wave broadcasting,
fixed point-to-point, marine and land-mobile,
government and amateur services. This chapter
describes the equipment used and the different
modes in which it operates.

Figure 5.1 VHF aircraft coverage in the

5.1 HF range and propagation North Atlantic area
In the HF range (3 MHz to 30 MHz) radio waves
propagate over long distances due to reflection lowest usable frequency (LUF) and the maximum
from the ionised layers in the upper atmosphere. usable frequency (MUF). The daytime LUF is
Due to variations in height and intensities of the usually between 4 to 6 MHz during the day,
ionised regions, different frequencies must be falling rapidly after sunset to around 2 MHz. The
used at different times of day and night and for MUF is dependent on the season and sunspot
different paths. There is also some seasonal cycle but is often between 8 MHz and 20 MHz.
variation (particularly between winter and Hence a typical daytime frequency for aircraft
summer). Propagation may also be disturbed and communication might be 8 MHz whilst this might
enhanced during periods of intense solar activity. be as low as 3 MHz during the night. Typical
The upshot of this is that HF propagation has ranges are in the region of 500 km to 2500 km
considerable vagaries and is far less predictable and this effectively fills in the gap in VHF
than propagation at VHF. coverage (see Figure 5.1).
Frequencies chosen for a particular radio path As an example of the need to change
are usually set roughly mid-way between the frequencies during a 24-hour period, Figure 5.2
74 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

17946 kHz I I
t 13,306kHz I I
8906 kHz
5598 kHz
Hour 00101 102103l04105106107 08109110111 112113114115116l17118h9120 21 122123
= service available
(a) Santa Maria service (NAT-A)

MUF (Mhz)




0~ i I
00 01 02 03 04 05 0607 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 1920 21 22 2324

(b) Variation of MUF (MadridNew York)

Figure 5.2 Santa Maria oceanic service (NAT-A) showing operational frequencies and times
together with typical variation of MUF for a path from Madrid to New York

shows how the service provided by the Santa 5.2 SSB modulation
Maria HF oceanic service makes use of different
parts of the HF spectrum at different times of the Unfortunately, the spectrum available for aircraft
day and night. Note the correlation between the communications at HF is extremely limited As a
service availability chart shown in Figure 5.2(a) result, steps are taken to restrict the bandwidth of
and the typical variation in maximum usable transmitted signals, for both voice and data
frequency (MUF) for the radio path between Double sideband (DSB) amplitude modulation
Madrid and New York. requires a bandwidth of at least 7 kHz but this can
The following HF bands are allocated to the be ieduced by transmitting only one of the two
aeronautical service: sidebands Note that either the upper sideband
(USB) or the lower sideband (LSB) can be used
0 2850 to 3155 kHz because they both contain the same modulating
0 3400 to 3500 kHz signal information In addition, it is possible to
0 4650 to 4750 kHz reduce (or suppress) the cariier as this, in itself,
0 5480 to 5730 kHz does not convey any information
0 6525 to 6765 kHz In order to demodulate a signal transmitted
0 8815 to 9040 kHz without a carrier it is necessary to reinsert the
0 10,005 to 10,100 kHz carrier at the ieceiving end (this is done in the
0 11,175 to 11,400kHz demodulator stage where a beat frequency
0 13,200 to 13,360 kHz oscillator or carrier insertion oscillator replaces
0 15,010 to 15,100 kHz the missing cariier signal at the final inteimediate
0 17,900 to 18,030 kI-lz frequencysee Figure 5 9) The absence of the
0 21,870 to 22,000 kHz carrier means that less power is wasted in the
0 23,200 to 23,350 kHz. transmitter which consequently operates at
significantly higher efficiency
HF communIcations 75
Radio frequency carrier
Figure 5.3 shows the fiequency spectrum of an
RF signal using different types of amplitude
modulation, with and without a carrier.
In Figure 5.3(a) the mode of transmission is
conventional double sideband (DSB) amplitude
~sideband sideband modulation with fullcarrier. This form of
(L5B) (U5B)
modulation is used for VHF aircraft
communications and was described earlier in
/J L\ f+3~ kl-lz Chapter 4.
f0300Hz f~+3OOHz Figure 5.3(b) shows the effect of suppressing
the carrier. This type of modulation is known as
7 kl-lz approx. double sideband suppressed-carrier (DSS-SC).
In practical DSB-SC systems the level of the
(a) Double sideband (DSB) full-carrier AM
carrier is typically reduced by 30 dB, or more.
The DSB-SC signal has the same overall
bandwidth as the DSB full-carrier signal but the
~rsideband sideband reduction in carrier results in improved efficiency
(L58) (U58) as well as reduced susceptibility to heterodyne
Figure 5.3(c) shows the effect of removing
3.4kHz ,/ f~+34kHz
\ both the carrier and the upper sideband. The
f~3O0Hz I~+3OOHz
resulting signal is referred to as single sideband
_________ 7 kHz approx. _________ (SSB), in this case using only the lower sideband
(LSB). Note how the overall bandwidth has been
(b) Double sideband suppressed-carrier (DS8-5~) reduced to only around 3.5 kHz, i.e. half that of
the comparable DSB AM signal shown in Figure
Lower sideb nd
Finally, Figure 5.3(d) shows the effect of
(L58) removing the carrier and the lower sideband.
Once again, the resulting signal is referred to as
single sideband (SSB), but in this case we are
kHz using only the upper sideband (USB). Here
300 Hz again, the overall bandwidth has been reduced to
around 3.5 kHz. Note that aircraft HF
3.5 kHz approx.
communication requires the use of the upper
(c) single sideband suppressed-carrier (ssB-sc) sideband (USB). DSB AM may also be available
but is now very rarely used due to the superior
performance offered by SSB.
Upper sideband

Test your understanding 5.1

+ 3.~t kHz
+ 300 Hz 1. Explain why HF radio is used on trans-oceanic
3.5 kHz approx.
2. Explain why different frequencies are used for
(d)singlesidebandsuppressed-carrier(ssB-Sc) HF aircraft communications during the day and
at night.
3. State TWO advantages of using SSB
Figure 5.3 Frequency spectrum of an RF
modulation for aircraft HF communications.
carrier using DSB and SSB modulation
76 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5.3 SELCAL Table 5.1 SELCAL tone frequencies

Selective calling (SELCAL) reduces the burden Character Frequency

on the flight crew by alerting them to the need to
respond to incoming messages SELCAL is A 312.6 Hz
available at HF and VHF but the system is more
B 346.7 Hz
used on HF This is partly due to the intermittent
nature of voice communications on long oceanic C 384.6 Hz
routes and partly due to the fact that squelch D 426.6 Hz
systems are more difficult to operate when using
E 473.2 Hz
SSB because there is no transmitted carrier to
indicate that a signal is present on the channel F 524,8 Hz
The aircraft SELCAL system is defined in 582.1 Hz
Annex 10 to the Convention on International
Civil Aviation (ICAO), Volume 1, 4th edition of H 645.7 Hz
1985 (amended 1987) The system involves the J 716.1 Hz
transmission of a short burst of audio tones
Each transmitted code comprises two K 794.3 Hz
consecutive tone pulses, with each pulse L 881.0Hz
containing two simultaneously transmitted tones
M 977.2 Hz
The pulses are of 1 second duration separated by
an interval of about 02 seconds To ensure proper p 1083.9 Hz
opeiation of the SELCAL decodei, the frequency Q 1202.3 Hz
of the transmitted tones must be held to an
R 1333.5 Hz
accuracy of better than 0 15%
SELCAL codes are uniquely allocated to S 1479.1 Hz
particular airciaft by Air Traffic Control (ATC)
As an example, a typical transmitted SELCAL
code might consist of a I second burst of
3126 Hz and 9772 Hz followed by a pause of 5.4 HF data link
about 0 2 seconds and a further I second burst of
tone compiising 3467 Hz and 9772 Hz Table ARINCs global high frequency data link
5 1 indicates that the corresponding transmitted (HFDL) coverage provides a highly cost-effective
SELCAL code is AM-BM and only the aircraft data link capability for carriers on remote oceanic
with this code would then be alerted to the need routes, as well as the polar routes at high latitudes
to respond to an incoming message where SATCOM coverage is unavailable HFDL
The RF signal transmitted by the ground radio is lower in cost than SATCOM and many carriers
station should contain (within 3 dB) equal are using HFDL instead of satellite services, or as
amounts of the two modulating tones and the a backup system HFDL is still the only data link
combination of tones should result in a technology that works over the North Pole,
modulation envelope having a nominal providing continuous, uninterrupted data link
modulation percentage as high as possible (and in coverage on the popular polar routes between
no case less than 60%) North America and eastern Europe and Asia
The transmitted tones are made up from The demand foi HFDL has grown steadily
combinations of the tones listed in Table 5 1 since ARINC launched the service in 1998, and
Note that the tones have been chosen so that they today HFDL avionics are offered as original
aie not harmonically related (thus avoiding equipment by all the major airframe
possible confusion within the SELCAL decoder manufacturers HFDL offeis a cost-effective
when harmonics of the original tone frequencies solution for global data link service The demand
might be present in the demodulated waveform). for HFDL service is currently growing by more
HF communications 77

On the ground Take-off and departure

Voice communications: VHF
En route Arrival and landing
Voice communication,: VHF
M On the ground
Voice communications: VHF
Voice communications: VHF hale/n LOS
Data communications: VOL Data communications: VOL Voice communications: VHF Data communications: VDL Dala communications: VOL
Data communication,: VDL
From the aircraft From the aircraft From the aircraft From the a/rcraft
Outside LOS
Fuel data Engine data Gate requesta Fuel inrormalion
Voice communicattona: HF
crew information etc. Provision requests Crew information
Date communicationa: HFOL
Link lest To the aircraft ETA Fault data lrom CMC
etc. Flight plan update Engine informalion etc.
To the aircraft Weather reporta From the aircraft Maintenance reporta To the aircraft
Weight and balance data Traffic upatalea Fosition reports eto. Tent information
Airport Information etc. ETPJDeIay information To the alrcreft Ground handling
Flight plan Weather report, Gate assignment etc.
Meteorological data Engine Information Passengers and crew data
PD C/AT IS Maintenance reporta ATIS
Ground handling etc. etc.
elo. To han aircraft
Flight plan update
Weather reporla
Oceatic clearances

Figure 5.4 Aircraft operational control at various out-off-on-in (0001) stages

than several hundred aircraft per year. HFDL uses phase shift keying (P5K) at data
Advantages of HFDL can be summarised as: rates of 300, 600, 1200 and 1800 bps. The rate
used is dependent on the prevailing propagation
wide coverage due to the extremely long conditions. HFDL is based on frequency division
range of HF signals multiplexing (FDM) for access to ground station
simultaneous coverage on several bands frequencies and time division multiplexing
and frequencies (currently 60) (TDM) within individual communication
multiple ground stations (currently 14) at channels. Figure 5.5 shows how the frequency
strategic locations around the globe spectrum of a typical HFDL signal at 300 bps
o relatively simple avionics using well-tried compares with an HF voice signal.
rapid network acquisition
a en Foot Fwqrnraryllnn.I II,
o exceptional network availability. 0.00
Disadvantages of HFDL are:
very low data rates (making the system
unsuitable for high-speed wideband
t.S0 1 It 1 .tt 2.00 CIt 3.00 3.00
,aento&azEo AtlFuTuoe nprcullrM
As a result of the above, the vast majority of
A ktmk Fmqaorry1442.a tt~
HFDL messages are related to airline lao
operational control (AOC) (see Fig.ure 5.4) but eta.
HFDL is also expected to play an important part r.,a.
in future air navigation systems (FANS) where aba

it will provide a further means of data linking

with an aircraft, supplementing VDL, OPS, and
SATCOM systems. Note that SATCOM can
support much faster data rates but it can also be
~ 0,00 tea tea

a .ea ceo sea a.aa 3.00

HetlMfllZtD sMpt,tnuoe optImuM
4.aa 4.t~ 0.00

susceptible to interruptions and may not available Figure 5.5 Frequency spectra of voice
at high latitudes. (upper trace) and HFDL signals (lower trace)
78 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Preamble 300 bps 1 8 sec Interleaver FREQ ERR 5 398116 Hz Errors 0

?~ircraft ID LOGON
Slots Pequested medium = 0 Low = 0
Ma>. B~t rate 1800 bps 0(R) 0 UR(R)vect 0
14:45:24 UTC Flnght ID AB3784 LAT 39 37 10 N tON 0 21 20 W
07 87 FE 00 04 00 14 85 92 BE 3C 12 On FE 05
41 42 33 37 38 34 CS C2 31 BE FE C2 67 88 SC A B 3 7 8 4 . .1 .

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Preamble 300 bps 1 8 sec Inter1ea~er FRCQ ERR 18.868483 Hz Errors 19

Aircraft ID LOGON
Slots Requested medium 0 Low = 0
Max Bit rate 1200 bps U(R) = 0 UR(R)vect = 0
14 4530 UTC Flight ID SUO1O6 LAT 54 42 16 N tON 25 50 42 E
07 87 FE 00 03 00 14 80 1E BE 02 80 4k FE 05 J
5355303130366A6EF26012C56733FB SUOlO6jii .g3
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 .

Preamble 300 bps 1.8 sec Interleaver FPEQ ERR 15.059247 Hz Errors 2
Aircraft ID AF
Slots Requested medium 0 Low = 0
Mac Bit rate 1200 bps 0(R) = 0 UR(R)vect = 0
14 45 30 UTC Flight ID = LH8409 LAT 46 42 35 N LON 21 22 55 E
07 87 A? 00 03 00 31 ~D 10 00 FE Dl 4C 48 38 . . . . 1 H . . .L H 8
34 30 39 73 13 82 34 OF 05 67 01 36 03 02 02 4 0 9 s .4 . .g 6
00 36 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 00 00 00 00
02 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 01 01 03 EA 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Preamble 300 bps 1 8 sec Interleaver FREQ ERR 8 355845 Hz Errors 0

Aircraft ID AD
Slots Requested mediun = 0 Low 0
Ma2 Bit rate 1200 bps 0(R) = 0 UR(R)vect 0
l443 30 UTC Flight ID = LH8393 LAT 52 37 27 N LON 16 46 41 E
07 87 AD 00 03 00 31 CS OB 00 FE Dl 4C 48 38 1 L H 8
33 39 33 BE 56 62 EE 03 89 67 01 8A 07 01 B8 3 9 3 .V b . g
00 7E 0000000000000006 OF 00000000
2E 00 00 00 00 00 05 00 00 00 05 07 08 27 00
00 00 00 00 00 UU 00

Figure 5.6 Examples of aircraft communication using HFDL

HF communications 79

Figure 5.7 Ground station and aircraft locations for the HFDL communications in Figure 5.6

each log-on request, the aircraft is identified by

its unique 24-bit ICAO address. Once logged on,
the aircraft is allocated an 8-bit address code (AF
hex iii the case of the third message and AD hex
in the case of the fourth message). Each aircraft
also transmits its current location data (longitude
and latitude).
The system used for HFDL data exchange is
Figure 5.8 Radio path for LH8409 specified in ARINC 635. Each ground station
transmits a frame called a squitter every 32
seconds. The squitter frame informs aircraft of
Figure 5.6 shows typical I-IFDL messages sent the system status, provides a timing reference and
from the four aircraft shown in Figure 5.7 to the provides protocol control. Each ground station
Shannon HFDL ground station using the same has a time offset for its squitters. This allows
communications channel. The radio path from aircraft to jump between ground stations finding
one of the aircraft (LH8409) is illustrated in the best one before logging on. When passing
Figure 5.8. The first two of the messages shown traffic, dedicated TDM time slots are used. This
in Figure 5.6 are log-on requests and the prevents two aircraft transmitting at the same
maximum bit rate is specified in the header. In time causing data collisions.
80 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5.5 HF radio equipment When used on receive mode, the incoming signal
frequency is mixed with the output from the
The block schematic of a simple HF transmitter/ digital frequency synthesiser in order to produce
receiver is shown in Figure 5.9. Note that, whilst the intermediate frequency signal. Unwanted
this equipment uses a single intermediate adjacent channel signals are removed by means of
frequency (IF), in practice most modern aircraft another multiple-stage crystal or mechanical filter
HF radios are much more complex and use two or which has a pass-band similar to that used in the
three intermediate frequencies. transmitter. The IF signal is then amplified before
On transmit mode, the DSB suppressed carrier being passed to the demodulator.
(Figure 5.2b) is produced by means of a The (missing) carrier is reinserted in the
balanced modulator stage. The balanced demodulator stage. The carrier signal is derived
modulator rejects the carrier and its output just from an accurate crystal controlled carrier
comprises the upper and lower sidebands. The oscillator which operates at the IF frequency. The
DSB signal is then passed through a multiple- recovered audio signal from the demodulator is
stage crystal or mechanical filter. This filter has a then passed to the audio amplifier where it is
very narrow pass-band (typically 3.4 kHz) at the amplified to an appropriate level for passing to a
intermediate frequency (IF) and this rejects the loudspeaker.
unwanted sideband. The resulting SSB signal is The typical specification for an aircraft HF
then mixed with a signal from the digital radio is shown in Table 5.2. One or two radios of
frequency synthesiser to produce a signal on the this type are usually fitted to a large commercial
wanted channel. The output from the mixer is aircraft (note that at least one HF radio is a
then ifirther amplified before being passed to the requirement for any aircraft following a trans
output stage. Note that, to avoid distortion, all of oceanic route). Figure 5.10 shows the flight deck
the stages must operate in linear mode. location of the HF radio controller.


Frequency control

Figure 5.9 A simple SSB transmitter/receiver

HF communications 81

Table 5.2 Aircraft HF radio specifications 5.6 HF antennas and coupling units
Pa,w,,ete, Specification External wire antennas were frequently used on
early aircraft. Such antennas would usually run
Frequency range 20000 MHz to 29.9999 MHz from the fuselage to the top of the vertical
Tuning steps 100 Hz stabiliser and they were sufficiently long to
Operating modes
permit resonant operation on one or more of the
SSB SC analogue voice (ARINC 719)
arid analogue data (ARINC 753 arid aeronautical I-IF bands. Unfortunately this type of
ARINC 635) at up to 1800 bps; antenna is unreliable and generally unsuitable for
DSB AM (full carrier) use with a modern high-speed passenger aircraft.
Sensitivity I 1tV for 0 cIB (S+N)/N 558; The use of a large probe antenna is unattractive
4 ~tV for 10dB (5-f-N)/N AM due to its susceptibility to static discharge and
Selectivity 6 dB max. attenuation at +2.5 kHz lightning strike. Hence an alternative solution in
60dB mm. attenuation at +3.4 kHz which the HF antenna is protected within the
Audio output 50mW into 6000 airframe is highly desirable. Early experiments
(see Figure 5.13) showed that the vertical
SELCAL output 50mW into 6000 stabiliser (tail fin) would be a suitable location
RF output power 200 ~V pep mm. SSB;
50 W mm. DSB AM
Frequency stability +20 Hz
Audio response 350 Hz to 2500 Hz at 6dB
Mean time Greater than 50,000 hours
between failure

Figure 5.11 HF antenna location

Figure 5.10 HF radio control unit

Test your understanding 5.2

1. Explain how HF data link (HFDL) differs from
VHF data link (VDL). under what
circumstances is HFDL used and what
advantages does it offer?
2. Explain briefly how an aircraft logs on to the Figure 5.12 View from the top of the
HFDL system. How are data collisions
avoided? vertical stabiliser (leading edge panel
82 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


3 4.0
9. c


2.0 ~N~/
3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27
Frequency (MHz)

Figure 5.14 Variation of SWR with frequency

for an HF notch antenna (note the
logarithmic scale used for SWR)

Co 2.5
1.~~ J >
3 2.0
~ 0,
~ i=t~[i~ 0
i.. Izltt (7~j ~
Co 1.5
4 t f t 0

100 105 110 115 120 125 130 135 140
Figure 5.13 Original sketches for a tail-
mounted antenna from work carried out by Frequency (MHz)
F. H. Tooley in 1944 Figure 5.15 Variation of SWR with frequency
for a VHF quarter-wave blade antenna (note
the linear scale used for SWR)
and is now invariably used to house the HF
antenna and its associated coupling unit on most 16.0
large transport aircraftsee Figures 5.11 and
5.12. ~ 8.0
Due to the restriction in available space (which 0,
mitigates against the use of a resonant antenna 3 4.0
such as a quarter-wave Marconi antennasee C
page 24) the HF antenna is based on a notch ~ 2.0
which uses part of the airframe in order to radiate . .
effectively. The notch itself has a very high-Q 1.0
3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27
factor and its resistance and reactance varies very
Frequency (MHz)
widely over the operating frequency range (i.e.
3 MHz to 24 MHz). The typical variation of
Figure 5.16 Variation of SWR with frequency
standing wave ratio (SWRsee page 33)
for an HF notch antenna filled with an
against frequency for an HF notch antenna is
antenna coupling/tuning unit
shown in Figure 5.14. For comparison, the
variation of SWR with frequency for a typical
quarter-wave VHF blade antenna is shown in
Figure 5.15. conventional 50 C) feeder/transmitter at most
From Figures 5.14 and 5.15 it should be other HF frequencies. Because of this, and
obvious that the HF antenna, whilst well matched because the notch antenna is usually voltage fed,
at 21 MHz, would be severely mismatched to a it is necessary to use an HF coupling/tuning unit
HF communications 83
HF notch

to airframe

Figure 5.17 Typical feedback control system used in an HF antenna coupler

between the HF radio feeder and the notch

antenna. This unit is mounted in close proximity
to the antenna, usually close to the top of the
vertical stabiliser (see Figure 5.12). Figure 5.16
shows the effect of using a coupling/tuning unit
on the SWR-frequency characteristic of the same
notch antenna that was used in Figure 5.14. Note
how the SWR has been reduced to less than 2:1
for most (if not all) of the HF range.
The tuning adjustment of HF antenna coupler
is entirely automatic and only requires a brief
signal from the transmitter to retune to a new HF
frequency. The HF antenna coupler unit
Figure 5.18 Interior view of an HF antenna
incorporates an SWR bridge (see page 35) and a
coupler showing the roller coaster inductor
feedback control system (see Figure 5.17) to
(top) and vacuum variable capacitor
adjust a roller coater inductor (LI) and high
(bottom). The high-voltage antenna
voltage vacuum variable capacitor (Cl) together
connector is shown in the extreme right
with a number of switched highvoltage
capacitors (Cl to C4). The internal arrangement
of a typical HF antenna coupler is shown in
Figures 5,18 and 5.19. The connections required
between the HF antenna coupler, HF radio and
control unit are shown in Figure 5.20.
Voltages present in the vicinity of the HF
antenna (as well as the field radiated by it) can be
extremely dangerous. It is therefore essential to
avoid contact with the antenna and to maintain a
safe working distance from it (at least 5 metres)
whenever the HF radio system is live.

Test your understanding 5.3 Figure 5.19 SWR bridge circuit incorporated
in the HF antenna coupler. The output from
Explain the function of an HF antenna coupler. the SWR bridge provides the error signal
What safety precautions need to be observed input to the automatic feedback control
when accessing this unit? system
84 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

HF notch

(with PU)

Speaker or

Figure 5.20 Connections to the HF radio, control unit and antenna coupling unit

~5.7 Multiple choice questions 6. How many alphanumeric characters are

transmitted in a SELCAL code?
The typical bandwidth of an aircraft HF SSB (a) 4
signal is (b) 8
(a) 3 4 kHz (c) 16.
(b) 7 kHz
(c) 25 kHz 7. How many bits are used in an ICAO aircraft
2 The principal advantage of SSB over DSB (a) 16
AMis (b) 24
(a) reduced bandwidth (c)32.
(b) improved frequency response
(c) faster data rates can be supported 8. The typical RF output power from an aircraft
HF transmitter is:
3 HF data link uses typical data rates of (a) 25 W pep
(a) 300 bps and 600 bps (b) 50 Wpep
(b) 2400 bps and 4800 bps (c) 400 W pep.
(c) 2400 bps and 31,500 bps
9. An HF radio is required for use on oceanic
4 The standard for HF data link is defined in routes because:
(a) ARINC 429 (a) VHF coverage is inadequate
(b) ARINC 573 (b) higher power levels can be produced
(c) ARINC 635 (c) HF radio is more reliable.

5 Which one of the following gives the 10. The function of an HF antenna coupler is to:
approximate range of audio frequencies used (a) reduce static noise and interference
for SELCAL tones9 (b) increase the transmitter output power
(a) 256 Hz to 2048 Hz (c) match the antenna to the radio.
(b)3l2Hzto 1479 Hz
(c) 300 Hz to 3400 Hz
Chapter Flight-deck audio systems

As well as systems foi communication with the means for them to receive, key and transmit
ground stations, modern passenger aircraft using the various aircraft radio systems. The
require a number of facilities foi local flight interphone system also extends
communication within the aircraft In addition, communication to ground personnel at the nose
there is a need for communications with those gear interphone station and allows flight
who woik on the aircraft when it is being serviced compartment crew members to communicate and
on the ground to make passenger address announcements. The
Systems used for local communications need to flight interphone system also incorporates
consist of nothing more than audio signals, amplifiers and mixing circuits in the audio
suitably amplified, switched and routed, and accessory unit, audio selector panels, cockpit
incorpoiating a means of alerting appropriate speakers, microphone/headphone jacks and press-
members of the ciew and other personnel to-talk (PTT) switches.
These flight-deck audio systems include In addition to the audio systems used for
normal operation of the aircraft, large commercial
passenger address (PA) system
aircraft are also required to carry a cockpit voice
service interphone system
recorder (CVR). This device captures and stores
cabin interphone system information derived from a number of the
ground mew call system
aircrafts audio channels. Such information may
flight interphone system later become invaluable in the event of a crash or
The passenger address system provides the malftinction.
flight crew and cabin crew with a means of
making announcements and distributing music to
passengers through cabin speakers Circuits in the ,6 I Flight interphone system
system send chime signals to the cabin speakers
The service interphone system provides the The flight interphone system provides the
crew and giound staff with interior and exterior essential connecting link between the aircrafts
communication capability Circuits in the system communication systems, navigation receivers and
connect service interphone jacks to the flight flight-deck crew members. The flight interphone
compartment system also extends communication to ground
The cabin interphone system provides personnel at external stations (e.g. the nose gear
facilities for communication among cabin interphone station). It also provides the means
attendants, and between the flight compartment by which members of the flight crew can
crew members and attendants The system can be communicate with the cabin crew and also make
switched to the input of the passenger address passenger address announcements. The flight
system for PA announcements interphone system comprises a number of sub
The ground crew call system provides a systems including amplifiers and mixing circuits
signalling capability (through the ground crew in the audio accessory unit, audio selector panels,
call horn) between the flight compartment and cockpit speakers, microphone/headphone jacks
nose landing gear area and press-to-talk (PTT) switches.
The flight interphone system provides The flight interphone components provided for
facilities for interphone communication among the captain and first officer usually comprise the
flight compartment crew members and provides following components:
86 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

cabin, toilet and cabin

crew speakers

Figure 6.1 Simplified block schematic diagram of a typical flight interphone system

audio selector panel Note that, where a third (or fourth) seat is
headset, headphone, and hand microphone provided on the flight deck, a third (or fourth) set
jack connectors of flight interphone components will usually be
o audio selector panel and control wheel press- available for the observer(s) to use. In common
to-talk (PTT) switches with other communication systems fitted to the
cockpit speakers. aircraft, the flight interphone system normally
Flight-deck audio systems 87

derives its power from the aircrafts 28 V DC

battery bus through circuit breakers on the
overhead panel.
The simplified block schematic diagram of a
typical flight interphone system is shown in
Figure 6.1. Key subsystem components are the ,< ,~
captain and first officers audio selector panels ~ \
and the audio accessory unit that provides a link
from the flight deck audio system to the
passenger address, cabin and service interphones,
and ground crew call systems. It is also worth
noting from Figure 6.1 that the audio signals
(inputs and outputs) from the HF and VHF radio
communications equipment as well as the audio
signals derived Thom the navigation receivers
(outputs only) are also routed via the audio
selector panels. This arrangement provides a high
degree of configuration flexibility together with a
degree of redundancy sufficient to cope with
failure of individual subsystem components. Figure 6.2 First officers audio selector
Finally, it should be emphasised that the panel (top) and radio panel (bottom) fitted in
arrangement depicted in Figure 6.1 is typical and the overhead panel of an A320 aircraft
that minor variations can and do exist. For
example, most modern aircraft incorporate
SATCOM facilities (not shown in Figure 6.1).
The flight interphone amplifier is usually
located in the audio accessory unit in the main
avionic equipment rack). The amplifier receives
low-level microphone inputs and provides audio
to all flight interphone stations. The amplifier has
preset internal adjustments for compression,
squelch and volume.
Audio selector panels are located in the flight
compartment within easy of reach of the crew
members. Audio selector panels are provided for
the captain and first officer as well as any
observers that may be present on the flight deck.
Depending on aircraft type and flight deck Figure 6.3 Captains audio selector (1) and
configuration, audio selector panels may be fitted first officers audio selector (2) fitted in the
in the central pedestal console or in the overhead central console of a Boeing 757 aircraft
panels. Typical examples of cockpit audio
selector panel layouts are shown in Figures 6.2 Two cockpit speaker units are usually fitted in
and 6.3. Each audio selector panel contains the flight compartment. These are usually located
microphone selector switches which connect in the sidewall panels adjacent to the captains
microphone circuits to the interphone systems, to and first officers stations. Each cockpit speaker
the radio communication systems, or to the unit contains a loudspeaker, amplifier, muting
passenger address system. The push-to-talk (PTT) circuits, and a volume control. The speakers
switch on the audio selector panels can be used to receive all audio signals provided to the audio
key the flight compartment microphones. selector panels. The speakers are muted whenever
Volume control is provided by switches on each a PTT switch is pushed at the captains or first
audio selector panel. officers station.
88 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

captains control wheel

Noise reduction

HFNHF radio
HFIVHF radio communications
equipment. > equipment,
interphone audio,
navigation and
interphone audio ) PAand~VR

captains audio selector panel

Figure 6.4 Typical arrangement for the captains audio selector. A similar arrangement is
used for the first officers audio selector as well as any supernumerary crew members that may
be present on the flight deck

Several jack panels are provided for a headset emergency use). Outputs can be selected for use
with integral boom microphone for the captain, with the headset or cockpit loudspeakers.
first officer and observer. Hand microphones Amplifiers, summing networks, and filters in
may also be used. Push-to-talk (PTT) switches the audio selector panel provide audio signals
are located at all flight interphone stations. The from the interphone and radio communication
hand microphone, control wheel, and audio systems to the headphones and speakers. Audio
selector panels all have PTT switches. The switch signals from the navigation receivers are also
must be pushed before messages are begun or no monitored through the headphones and speakers.
transmission can take place. Audio and control Reception of all audio signals is controlled by the
circuits to the audio selector panel are completed volume switches. The captains INT microphone
when the PTT switch is operated. switch is illuminated when active. Note that this
The flight interphone system provides common switch is interlocked with the other microphone
microphone circuits for the communications switches so that only one at a time can be pushed.
systems and common headphone and speaker The navigation systems (ADF, VOR, JLS,
circuits for the communications and navigation etc.) audio is also controlled by switches on the
systems. audio selector panel. The left, centre, or right (L,
Figure 6.4 shows a typical arrangement for the C, R) switches control selection and volume of
captains audio selector panel (note that the flight the desired receiver. The VOICE-BOTH-RANGE
interphone components and operation are switch acts as a filter that separates voice signals
identical for both the captain and first officer). and range signals. The filter switch can also
Similar (though not necessarily identical) systems combine both voice and range signals. All radio
are available for use by the observer and any communication, interphone, and navigation
other supernumerary crew members (one obvious outputs are received and recorded by the cockpit
difference is the absence of a control wheel push- voice recorder (CVR).
to-talk switch and cockpit speaker). Switches are A typical procedure for checking that the
provided to select boom microphone, hand microphone audio is routed to the radio
microphone (where available) as well as communication, interphone, or passenger address
microphones located in the oxygen masks (for system is as follows:
Flight-deck audio systems 89

Figure 6.5 First officers loudspeaker

(centre) in a Boeing 757 aircraft (the volume
control is mounted in the centre of the
loudspeaker panel)

Figure 6.7 First officers headset and boom

microphone in an A320 aircraft

Figure 6.6 Captains headset and boom

microphone in a Boeing 757 aircraft. The
press-to-talk (PTT) switch can be seen on
the left-hand section of the control wheel

I. Push the microphone select switch on the Figure 6.8 Headsets and boom microphones
audio selector panel to select the required in a four-seat rotorcraft
communication system.
2. If a handheld microphone is used, push the
PTT switch on the microphone and talk.
1. For communications systems, adjust the
3. If a boom microphone or oxygen mask
volume control switch on the audio selector
microphone is used, select MASK or BOOM
panel and listen to the headset.
with the toggle switch on the audio selector
2. For navigation systems audio, select desired
panel and push the audio selector panel or
left-centre-right (L-C-R) and filter (VOICE-
control wheel PTT switch and talk.
BOTH-RANGE) positions on the audio
The following procedure is used to listen to selector panel, adjust volume control switch
navigation and communication systems audio: and listen to headset.
90 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Figure 6.9 Ground staff interphone jack


3. The captains and first officers cockpit

speakers (see Figure 6.5) can be used to listen
to navigation as well as communication
system audio. A control in the centre of the
cockpit speaker (Boeing aircraft) or on an Figure 6.10 Cabin interphone/passenger
adjacent panel (Airbus) adjusts the speaker address handset
volume to the desired level.
4. External interphone panels (as appropriate to
the aircraft typesee Figures 6.9 and 6.10)
should be similarly tested by connecting a 6.2 Cockpit voice recorder
headset or handset (as appropriate) to each
The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) can provide
interphone jack.
valuable information that can later be analysed in
Figures 6.5 to 6.10 show examples of some the event of an accident or serious malfunction of
typical flight deck audio communications the aircraft or any of its systems. The voice
equipment used on modern passenger aircraft. recorder preserves a continuing record of
typically between 30 and 120 minutes of the most
recent flight crew communications and
Test your understanding 6.1 conversations.
The storage medium used with the CVR fitted
Explain the differences between (a) the flight to modern aircraft is usually based on one or
interphone and (b) the cabin interphone systems. more solid state memory devices whereas on
older aircraft the CVR is usually based on a
continuous loop of magnetic tape.
The CVR storage unit must be recoverable in
the event of an accident. This means that the
Test your understanding 6.2 entire recorder unit including storage media must
be mounted in an enclosure that can withstand
I. Explain the function of the audio selector
panels used by members of the flight crew. severe mechanical and thermal shock as well as
the high pressure that exists when a body is
2. List THREE different examples of inputs to an immersed at depth in water.
audio selector panel and THREE different The CVR is usually filled with a test switch,
examples of outputs from an audio selector panel. headphone jack, status light (green) and an
externally mounted underwater locator beacon
Flight-deck audio systems 91

(ULB) to facilitate undersea recovery. The ULS

is a self-contained device (invariably attached to
the front panel of the CVR) that emits an
ultrasonic vibration (typically at 37.5 kHz) when
the water-activated switch is activated as a result
of immersion in either sea water or fresh water. A
label on the ULB indicates the date by which the
internal battery should be replaced. A typical
specification for a ULB is shown in Table 6.1. An
external view of a CVR showing its externally
mounted ULB is shown in Figure 6.11.
The audio input to the CVR is derived from the
captain, first officer, observer (where present) and
also from an area microphone in the flight
compartment which is usually mounted in the Figure 6.11 Cockpit voice recorder fitted with
overhead panel and thus collects audio input from an underwater locator beacon (ULS)
the entire flight-deck area.
In order to improve visibility and aid recovery,
the external housing of the CVR is painted bright
Table 6.1 Typical ULB specification
orange. The unit is thermally insulated and
hermetically sealed to prevent the ingress of
Parameter Spec(flea/jo,;
water. Because of the crucial nature of the data
preserved by the flight, the unit should only be Operating frequency 37.5 kHz ( I kI-lz)
opened by authorised personnel following initial
Acoustic output 160 dB relative to I ~tPa at I m
recovery from the aircraft.
Magnetic CVR use a multi-track tape transport Pulse repetition rate 0.9 pulses per Sec
mechanism. This normally comprises a tape Pulse duration 0 ms
drive, four recording heads, a single (fill-width) Activation Immersion in either salt water or
erase head, a monitor head and a bulk erase coil. fresh water
The bias generator usually operates at around
Power source Internal lithium battery
65 kHz and an internal signal (at around 600 Hz)
is often provided for test purposes. Bulk erase can Batteryljfe 6 years standby (shelf-life)
be performed by means of an erase switch (which Beacon operating life 30 days
is interlocked so that bulk tape erasure can only Operating depth 20,000 ft (6,096 in)
be performed when the aircraft is on the ground
and the parking brake is set). The erase current I-lousing material Aluminium
source is usually derived directly from the Length 3.92 in (9.95 cm)
aircrafts 115 V AC 400 Hz supply. The magnetic Diameter I .3 in (3.3 ciii)
tape (a continuous loop) is usually 308 ft in
Weight 6.7 oz (190 g)
length and in wide.
More modern solid-state recording media uses
no moving parts (there is no need for a drive
mechanism) and is therefore much more reliable. Test your understanding 6.3
Erasure can be performed electronically and there
is no need for a separate erase coil and AC 1. Explain the function and principle of operation
supply. Finally, it is important to note that the of the underwater locator beacon (ULS) fitted to a
CVR is usually mounted in the aft passenger cockpit voice recorder (CVR).
cabin ceiling. This location offers the greatest
amount of protection for the unit in the event of a 2. Explain why the CVR is located in the ceiling of
crash. the aft passenger cabin.
92 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

choice questions 9. A ULB is activated:

(a) automatically when immersed in water
1. Audio selector panels are located (b) manually when initiated by a crew
(a) in the main avionic equipment bay member
(b) close to the pilot and first officer stations (c) when the unit is subjected to a high impact
(c) in the passenger cabin for use by cabin mechanical shock.
crew members
10. The CVR flight deck area microphone is
2 When are the flight-deck speaker units muted7 usually mounted:
(a) when a PTT switch is operated (a) on the overhead panel
(b) when a headset is connected (b) on the left-side flight deck floor
(e) when a navigation signal is received (c) immediately behind the jump seat.

3 Input to the captains interphone speaker unit 11. The typical pulse rate for a ULB is:
is derived from (a) 0.9 pulses per sec
(a) the audio selector panel (b) 10 pulses per see
(b) the passenger address system (c) 60 pulses per sec.
(c) the audio accessory unit and interphone
amplifier 12. The CVR is usually located:
(a) on the flight deck
4 The microphone PTT system is interlocked in (b) in the avionic equipment bay
order to prevent (c) in the ceiling of the aft passenger cabin.
(a) unwanted acoustic feedback
(b) more than one switch being operated 13. What colour is used for the external housing
at any time of a CVR?
(c) loss of signal due to parallel connection of (a) red
microphones (b) green
(c) orange.
5 Bulk erasuie of the magnetic tape media used
in a CVR is usually carried out 14.A ULB usually comprises:
(a) immediately after take-off (a) a separate externally fitted canister
(b) as soon as the aircraft has touched down (b) an internally fitted printed circuit module
(c) on the ground with the parking brake set. (c) an external module that derives its power
from the CVR.
6 The typical bias frequency used in a magnetic
CVR is 15.A ULB will operate:
(a) 3 4 kHz (a) only in salt water
(b) 20 kIt (b) only in fresh water
(c) 65 kHz (e) in either salt water or fresh water.

7 The typical frequency emitted by a ULB is 16. The typical shelf-life of the battery fitted to a
(a) 600 Hz ULB is:
(b) 3 4 kHz (a) six months
(c) 37.5 kFIz (b) 18 months
(c) six years.
8 Which one of the following is a suitable audio
tone frequency for testing a CVR7
(a) 60 Hz
(b) 600 Hz
(c) 6 kHz
Chapter Emergency locator transmitters

The detection and location of an aiiciaft crash is significantly higher power (5 W instead of the
vitally important to the search and rescue (SAR) 150 mW commonly used at VHF). Unlike the
teams and to potential survivors Studies show simple amplitude modulation used with their
that while the initial survivors of an aiicraft crash VHF counterparts, 460 MHz ELT transmit
have less than a 10% chance of survival if iescue digitally encoded data which incorporates a code
is delayed beyond two days, the survival iate is that is unique to the aircraft that carries them.
incieased to over 60% if the iescue can be Provided they have been properly maintained,
accomplished within eight hours For this reason, most ELT are capable of continuous operation
emergency locatoi transmitters (ELT) are for up to 50 hours. It is important to note that
required for most general aviation airciaft ELT ELT performance (and, in particular, the
are designed to emit signals on the VHF and UHF operational range and period for which the signal
bands theieby helping search crews locate aiiciaft is maintained) may become seriously impaired
and facilitating the timely rescue of suivivors when the batteries are out of date. For this
This chapter provides a general introduction to reason, routine maintenance checks are essential
the types and operating principles of ELT fitted to and any ELT which contains outdated batteries
modem passenger aircraft should be considered unserviceable.
The different types of ELT are summarised in
Table 7.1. These are distinguished by application
7.1 Types of ELT and by the means of activation. Modern
passenger aircraft may carry several different
Several different types of ELT are in current use types of ELT. Figure 7.1 shows a typical example
These include the older (and simpler) units that of the Type-W (water activated) survival ELT
pioduce a modulated RF carrier on one or both of carried on a modern transport aircraft.
the two spot VHF frequencies used foi distress Most ELT in general aviation aircraft are of
beacons (121 5 MHz and its second haimonic the automatic type. Fixed automatic units contain
243 0 MHz) Note that the foimer frequency is a crash activation sensor, or C-switch, which is
specified for civil aviation use whilst the latter is designed to detect the deceleration characteristics
sometimes referred to as the military aviation of a crash and automatically activate the
distress frequency Simultaneous transmission on transmitter.
the two frequencies (121 5 MHz and 243 0 MHz) With current Sarsat and Cospas satellites now
is easily possible and only requires a frequency in orbit, ELT signals will usually be detected,
doubler and dual-band output stage within 90 minutes, and the appropriate search and
Simple VHF ELT devices generate an RF rescue (SAR) agencies alerted. Military aircrew
carrier that is modulated by a distinctive siren- monitor 121.5 MHz or 243.0 MHz and they will
like sound This sweeps downwards at a also noti~ ATS or SAR agencies of any ELT
repetition rate of typically between 2 and 4 Hz transmissions they hear.
This signal can be readily detected by Saisat and It is worth noting that the detection ranges for
Cospas satellites (see later), or by any aiicraft Type-W and Type-S ELT can be improved if the
monitoring 121 5 MHz oi 243 0 MHz ELT is placed upright, with the antenna vertical,
More modern ELT operate on a spot UHF on the highest nearby point with any accessible
frequency (460 025 MHz) These devices aie metal surface acting as a ground plane. Doubling
much more sophisticated and also operate at a the height will increase the range by about 40%.
94 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Table 7.1 Types of ELT

Type Class Description

A or AD Automatic ejectable or This type of ELT automatically ejects from the aircraft and is set in
automatic deployable operation by inertia sensors when the aircraft is subjected to a
crash deceleration force acting through the aircrafts flight axis.
This type is expensive and is seldom used in general aviation.
F or AF Fixed (non-ejectable) This type of ELT is fixed to the aircraft and is automatically set in
or automatic fixed operation by an inertia switch when the aircraft is subjected to
crash deceleration forces acting in the aircrafts flight axis. The
transmitter can be manually activated or deactivated and in some
cases may be remotely controlled from the cockpit. Provision may
also be made for recharging the ELTs batteries from the aircrafts
electrical supply. Most general aviation aircraft use this ELT type,
which must have the function switch placed to the ARIvI position
for the unit to fUnction automatically in a crash (see Figure 7.5).

AP Automatic portable This type of ELT is similar to Type-F or AF except that the
antenna is integral to the unit for portable operation.
P Personnel activated This type of ELT has no fixed mounting and does not transmit
automatically. Instead, a switch must be manually operated in
order to activate or deactivate the ELTs transmitter.
W or S Water activated or This type of ELT transmits automatically when immersed in water
Survival (see Figure 7.1). It is waterproof, floats and operates on the surface
of the water. It has no fixed mounting and should be tethered to
survivors or life rafts by means of the supplied cord.

7.2 Maintenance and testing of ELT testing an ELT. Two-station air testing (in
conjunction with a nearby ground station) is
ELT should be regularly inspected in accordance usually preferred because, due to the proximity of
with the manufactui ers recommendations The the transmitting and receiving antennae, a test
ELT should be checked to ensure that it is secure, carried out with the aircrafts own VHF receiver
flee of external coirosion, and that antenna may not reveal a fault condition in which the
connections are secuie It is also important to ELTs RF output has become reduced.
ensure that the ELT batteries have not reached To avoid unnecessary SAR missions, all
their expiry date (refer to external label) and that accidental ELT activations should be reported to
only approved battery types are fitted the appropriate authorities (e.g. the nearest rescue
Air testing normally involved first listening on coordination centre) giving the location of the
the beacons output frequency (e g 121 5 MHz), transmitter, and the time and duration of the
checking first that the ELT is not transmitting accidental transmission. Promptly notifying the
befoi e activating the unit and then checking the appropriate authorities of an accidental ELT
radiated signal Simple air tests between an transmission can be instrumental in preventing
aircraft and a giound station (or between two the launch of a search aircraft. Any testing of an
aircraft) can sometimes be sufficient to ensure ELT must be conducted only during the first five
that an ELT is functional, however, it is important minutes of any UTC hour and restricted in
to follow manufacturers instructions when duration to not more than five seconds.
Emergency locator transmitters 95

Figure 7.3 ELT transmitter and modulator

printed circuit board (the crystal oscillator is
located on the right with the dual-frequency
output stages on the left)

Figure 7.1 Type-W ELT with attachment

cord secured by water-soluble tape (the
antenna has been removed)

Figure 7.4 ELT test switch and test light

(the antenna base connector is in the centre
of the unit)

7.3 ELT mounting requirements

In order to safeguard the equipment and to ensure
that it is available for operation should the need
arise, various considerations should be observed
when placing and mounting an ELT and its
associated antenna system in an aircraft. The
following requirements apply to Type-F, AF, AP
ELT installntions in fixed wing aircraft and
I. When installed in a fixed wing nircraft, ELT
should be mounted with its sensitive axis
Figure 7.2 Interior view of the ELT shown in pointing in the direction of flight
Figure 7.1. Note how the battery occupies 2. When installed in a rotorcraft ELT should be
approximately 50% of the internal volume mounted with its sensitive axis pointing
96 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

approximately 45 downward from the

normal forward direction of flight
3. ELT should be installed to withstand
ultimate inertia forces of 10 g upward,
22,5 g downward, 45 g forward and 7.5 g
4. The location chosen for the ELT should be
sufficiently free from vibration to prevent
involuntary activation of the transmitter
5. ELT should be located and mounted so as to
minimise the probability of damage to the
transmitter and antenna by fire or crushing
as a result of a crash impact
6. ELT should be accessible for manual
Figure 7.5 Type-AF ELT control panel (note activation and deactivation. If it is equipped
the three switch positions marked ON, with an antenna for portable operation, the
ARMED and TEST/RESET) ELT should be easily detachable from inside
the aircraft
7. The external surface of the aircraft should be
marked to indicate the location of the ELT
Test your understanding 7.1
8. Where an ELT has provision for remote
Distinguish between the following types of ELT: operation it is important to ensure that
(a) Type-F, (b) Type-AF, and (c) Type-W. appropriate notices are displayed.
The antenna used by a fixed type of ELT should
conform to the following:
Table 7.2 Typical Type-AF ELT specification I. ELT should not use the antenna of another
avionics system
Paivmeter Specification 2. ELT antenna should be mounted as far away
as possible from other very high frequency
Operating frequencies 121.5 MHz, 243 MHz and 406.025
MHz (VHF) antennas
3. The distance between the transmitter and
Frequency tolerance 0.005% (121.5 MHz and antenna should be in accordance with the
243 MHz); 2 kHz (406.025 MHz)
ELT manufacturers installation instructions
RF output power 250mW typical (121.5 MHz and or other approved data
243 MHz~; 5 W 2 dB (406.025 4. The position of the antenna should be such
as to ensure essentially omnidirectional
Pulse duration 10 ms radiation characteristics when the aircraft is
Activation 0-switch in its normal ground or water attitude
Power source Internal lithium battery
5. The antenna should be mounted as far aft as
Battery life 5 years (including effects of monthly 5. ELT antenna should not foul or make
operational checks)
contact with any other antennas in flight.
Beacon operating life 50 hours
The following considerations apply to Type-W
Digital message Every 50
repetition period
and Type-S ELT:
(406.025 MHz only) I. ELT should be installed as specified for
Modulation AM (121.5 M Hz and Type-F but with a means of quick release,
243 MHz); phase modulation and located as near to an exit as practicable
(406.025 MHz)
without being an obstruction or hazard to
Housing material Aluminium alloy aircraft occupants
Emergency locator transmitters 97

2. Where the appropriate regulations require the 243 MHz, and 406.025 MHz. The ELT uses
carriage of a single ELT of Type-W or amplitude modulation (AM) on the two VHF
Type-S. the ELT should be readily accessible frequencies (121.5 MHz and 243 MHz) and phase
to passengers and crew modulation (PM) on the UHF frequency
3. Where the appropriate regulations require the (406.025 MHz). The AM modulating signal
carriage of a second Type-W or Type-S ELT, consists of an audio tone that sweeps downwards
that ELT should be either located near a life from 1.5 kHz to 500 Hz with three sweeps every
raft pack, or attached to a life raft in such a second. The modulation depth is greater than
way that it will be available or retrievable 85%.
when the raft is inflated The block schematic diagram for a simple
4. An ELT fitted with a lithium or magnesium Type-W ELT is shown in Figure 7.6. The supply
battery must not be packed inside a life raft in is connected by means of a water switch (not
an aircraft. shown in Figure 7.6). The unit shown in Figure
7.6 only provides outputs at VHF (121.5 MHz
and 243 MHz). These two frequencies are
7.4 Typical ELT harmonically related which makes it possible to
generate the 243 MHz signal using a frequency
Figures 7.1 to 7.4 show the external and internal doubler stage.
construction of a basic Type-W ELT. The unit is
hermetically sealed at each end in order to
prevent the ingress of water. The procedure for Test your understanding 7.2
disassembling the ELT usually involves
withdrawing the unit from one end of the 1. State THREE requirements that must be
cylindrical enclosure. When reassembling an ELT observed when an ELT is mounted in an
care must be taken to reinstate the hermetic seals aircraft.
at each end of the enclosure. 2. Describe two methods of activating an ELT.
The specification for a modem Type-AF ELT
is shown in Table 7.2. This unit provides outputs 3. What precautions must be taken when an ELT
on all three ELT beacon frequencies; 121.5 MHz, is tested?



Figure 7.6 Block schematic diagram for a Type-W ELT

98 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

7.5 CospasSarsat sateNites There are two CospasSarsat systems. One

operates at 121.5 MHz (VHF) whilst the other
CospasSarsat is a satellite system designed to operates at 406 MHz (UHF). The CospasSarsat
supply alert and location information to assist 121.5 MHz system uses low earth orbit (LEO)
search and rescue operations. The Russian Cospas polar-orbiting satellites together with associated
stands for space system for the search of vessels ground receiving stations. The basic system is
in distress whilst Sarsat stands for search and shown in Figure 7.7.
rescue satellite-aided tracking. The signals produced by ELT beacons are
The system uses satellites and ground stations received and relayed by CospasSarsat LEO-SAR
to detect and locate signals from ELT operating at satellites to CospasSarsat LUTs that process the
frequencies of 121.5 MHz, 243 MHz and/or 406 signals to determine the location of the ELT. The
MHz. The system provides worldwide support to computed position of the ELT transmitter is
organizations responsible for air, sea or ground relayed via an MCC to the appropriate RCC or
SAR operations. search and rescue point of contact (SPOC).
The basic configuration of the CospasSarsat The CospasSarsat system uses Doppler
system features: location techniques (using the relative motion
between the satellite and the distress beacon) to
ELT that transmit VHF and/or UHF signals in accurately locate the ELT. The carrier frequency
case of emergency transmitted by the ELT is reasonably stable
o Instruments on board geostationary and low- during the period of mutual beacon-satellite
orbiting satellites detecting signals transmitted visibility. Doppler performance is enhanced due
by the ELT to the low-altitude near-polar orbit used by the
o Local user terminals (LUT), which receive CospasSarsat satellites. However, despite this it
and process signals transmitted via the is important to note that the location accuracy of
satellite downlink to generate distress alerts the 121.5 MHz system is not as good as the
o Mission control centres (MCC) which accuracy that can be achieved with the
receive alerts from LUTs and send them to a 406 MHz system. The low altitude orbit also
Rescue coordination centre (RCC) makes it possible for the system to operate with
Search and rescue (SAR) units. very low uplink power levels.

Rescue cospas-sarsal cospas-sarsat local user terminal

- coordination centre mission control cenire ground station
Aicralt in drslress (Rcc) (Mcc) (LUT)

Figure 7.7 The CospasSarsat system in operation

Emergency locator transmitters 99

Earths rotation
Earths rotation

Satellite orbit

Polar axis Polar axis

Figure 7.8 Polar orbit for a low altitude Figure 7.9 The constellation of four LEO
earth orbit (LEO) search and rescue (SAR) SAR satellites

A near polar orbit could provide ~ll global pass which provides for a minimum of four
coverage but 121.5 MHz can only be produced if minutes, simultaneous visibility of an ELT and an
the uplink signals from the ELT are actually LUT. This additional constraint may increase the
received by an LUT. This constraint of the waiting time to several hours if the transmitting
121.5 MHz system limits the useful coverage to a beacon is at the edge of the LUT coverage area.
geographic area of about 3,000 kin radius around The Doppler location provides two positions for
each LUT. In this region, the satellite can see each beacon: the true position and its mirror
both the ELT and the LUT. image relative to the satellite ground track. In the
Figure 7.8 shows the polar orbit of a single case of 121.5 MHz beacons, a second pass is
satellite. The path (or orbital plane) of the usually required to resolve the ambiguity.
satellite remains fixed, while the earth rotates Sarsat satellites are also equipped with 243
underneath. At most, it takes only one half MHz repeaters which allow the detection and
rotation of the earth (i.e. 12 hours) for any location of 243 MHz distress beacons. The
location to pass under the orbital plane. With a operation of the 243 MHz system is identical to
second satellite, having an orbital plane at right the 121.5 MHz system except for the smaller
angles to the first, only one quarter of a rotation is number of satellites available.
required, or six hours maximum. Similarly, as The CospasSarsat 406 MHz System is much
more satellites orbit the earth in different planes, more sophisticated and involves both orbiting and
the waiting time is further reduced. geostationary satellites. The use of 406 MHz
The complete CospasSarsat system uses beacons with digitally encoded data allows
four satellites as shown in Figure 7.9. The system unique beacon identification.
provides a typical waiting time of less than one In order to provide positive aircraft
hour at mid-latitudes. However, users of the identification, it is essential that 406 MHz ELT
121.5 MHz system have to wait for a satellite are registered in a recognised ELT database
100 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

accessible to search and rescue authorities. The 6. If bubbles appear when an ELT is immersed
information held in the database includes data on in a tank of water, which one of the following
the ELT, its owner, and the aircraft on which the statements is correct?
ELT is mounted. This information can be (a) This is normal and can be ignored
invaluable in a search and rescue (SAR) (b) This condition indicates that the internal
operation. battery is overheating and producing gas
The unique coding of a UHF ELT is imbedded (c) The unit should be returned to the
in the final stage of manufacture using aircraft manufacturer.
data supplied by the owner or operator. The ELT
data is then registered with the relevant national 7. The air testing of an ELT can be carried out:
authorities. Once this has been done, the data is (a) at any place or time
entered into a database available for interrogation (b) only after notifying the relevant authorities
by SAR agencies worldwide. (c) only at set times using recommended

7 6 Multiple choice questions 8. On which frequencies do ELT operate?

(a) 125 MHz and 250 MHz
1. ELT transmissions use: (b) 122.5 MHz and 406.5 MHz
(a) Morse code and high-power RF at HF (c) 121.5 MHz and 406.025 MHz
(b) pulses of acoustic waves at 37.5 kHz
(c) low-power RF at VHF or UHF. 9. A Type-W ELT is activated by:
(a) a member of the crew
2. A Type-P ELT derives its power from: (b) immersion in water
(a) aircraft batteries (c) a high G-force caused by deceleration.
(b) internal batteries
(c) a small hand-operated generator. 10. The location accuracy of a satellite-based
beacon locator system is:
3. Transmission from an ELT is usually initially (a) better on 121.5 MHz than on 406 MHz
detected by: (b) better on 406 MHz than on 121.5 MHz
(a) low-flying aircraft (c) the same on 121.5 MHz as on 406 MHz.
(b) one or more ground stations
(c) a satellite. 11. An ELT fitted with a lithium battery is:
(a) safe for packing in a life raft
4. The operational state of an ELT is tested (b) unsafe for packing in a life raft
using: (c) not suitable for use with a Type-F ELT.
(a) a test switch and indicator lamp
(b) immersion in a water tank for a short 12. A Type-W or Type-S ELT will work better
period when the antenna is:
(c) checking battery voltage and charging (a) held upright
current. (b) slanted downwards slightly
(c) carefully aligned with the horizontal.
5. A Type-W ELT needs checking. What is the
first stage in the procedure? 13. The satellites used by the CospasSarsat
(a) Inspect and perform a load test on the 121.5 MHz system are:
battery (a) in high earth orbit
(b) Open the outer case and inspect the (b) in low earth orbit
hermetic seal (c) geostationary.
(c) Read the label on the ELT in order to
determine the units expiry date.
Chapter Aircraft navigation

Navigation is the science of conducting journeys is shaped more like an orange. For short
over land and/or sea. Whether the journey is to be distances, this is not significant; however, for
made across deserts or oceans, we need to know long-range (i.e. global) navigation we need to
the ultimate destination and how the journeys know some accurate facts about the earth. The
progress will be checked along the way. Finding a mathematical definition of a sphere is where the
position on the earths surface and deciding on distance (radius) from the centre to the surface is
the direction of travel can be simply made by equidistant. This is not the case for the earth,
observations or by mathematical calculations. where the actual shape is referred to as an oblate
Aircraft navigation is no different, except that the spheroid.
speed of travel is much faster! Navigation
systems for aircraft have evolved with the nature 8.1.1 Position
and role of the aircraft itself. Starting with visual
To define a unique two-dimensional position on
references and the basic compass, leading onto
the earths surface, a coordinate system using
radio ground aids and self-contained systems,
imaginary lines of latitude and longitude are
many techniques and methods are employed.
drawn over the globe, see Figure 8.1. Lines of
Although the basic requirement of a navigation
longitude join the poles in great circles or
system is to guide the crew from point A to point
meridians. A great circle is defined as the
B, increased traffic density and airline economics
intersection of a sphere by a plane passing
means that more than one aircraft is planning a
through the centre of the sphere; this has a radius
specific route. Flight planning takes into account
measured from the centre to the surface of the
such things as favourable winds, popular
earth. These northsouth lines are spaced around
destinations and schedules. Aircraft navigation is
the globe and measured in angular distance from
therefore also concerned with the management of
the zero (or prime) meridian, located in
traffic and safe separation of aircraft. This chapter
Greenwich, London. Longitude referenced to the
reviews some basic features of the earths
prime-meridian extends east or west up to 180
geometry as it relates to navigation, and
degrees. Note that the distance between lines of
introduces some basic aircraft navigation
longitude converge at the poles. Latitude is the
terminology. The chapter concludes by reviewing
angular distance north or south of the equator; the
a range of navigation systems used on modern
poles are at latitude 90 degrees.
transport and military aircraft (a full description
For accurate navigation, the degree (symbol 0

of these systems follows in subsequent chapters).

after the value, e.g. 90 north) is divided by 60
giving the unit of minutes (using the symbol
8.1 The earth and navigation after numbers), e.g. one half of a degree will be
30. This can be further refined into smaller units
Before looking at the technical aspects of by dividing again by 60 giving the unit of
navigation systems, we need to review some seconds (using the symbol after numbers), e.g.

basic features of the earth and examine how these one half of a minute will be 30. A second of
features are employed for aircraft navigation latitude (or longitude at the equator) is
purposes. Although we might consider the earth approximately 31 metres, just over 100 feet.
to be a perfect sphere, this is not the case. There Defining a unique position on the earths surface,
is a flattening at both the poles such that the earth e.g. Lands End in Cornwall, UK, using latitude
102 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Longitude Latitude

Meridians (described by the angle they meke, Parallels of latitude (described by

measured east or west from the Greenwich, the angle they make, measured
or prime, meridian) north or south of the equator)

9 and 9~ are angular Os and 94 are angular Equator

measurement, west or mensurement. north or
east of the prime soulh of the equator

Greenwich meridian

Figure 8.1 Longitude and latitude

and longitude is written as:

Latitude N 500 0413 Longitude W 50
42 42

8.1.2 Direction
Direction to an observed point (bearing) can be
referenced to a known point on the earths (a) Typical compass display
surface, e.g. magnetic north. Bearing is defined
as the angle between the vertical plane of the
reference point through to the vertical plane of the
observed point. Basic navigational information is
expressed in terms of compass points from zero
referenced to north through 360 in a clockwise
direction, see Figure 8.2. For practical navigation
purposes, north has been taken from the natural
feature of the earths magnetic field; however;
magnetic north is not at 90 latitude; the latter
defines the position of true north. The location
of magnetic north is in the Canadian Arctic,
approximately 83 latitude and 1150 longitude
west of the prime meridian, see Figure 8.3.
Magnetic north is a natural feature of the earths
geology; it is slowly drifting across the Canadian
Arctic at approximately 40 km northwest per
year. Over a long period of time, magnetic north
describes an elliptical path. The Geological
Survey of Canada keeps track of this motion by (b) Compass indicator
periodically carrying out magnetic surveys to re
determine the poles location. In addition to this Figure 8.2 Compass indications
Aircraft navigation 103

long-term change, the earths magnetic field is Magnetic north pole

also affected on a random basis by the weather,
i.e. electrical storms. &
Navigation charts based on magnetic north
have to be periodically updated to consider this
gradual drift. Compass-based systems are
referenced to magnetic north; since this is not at
90 latitude there is an angular difference
between magnetic and true north. This difference
will be zero if the aircrafts position happens to
be on the same longitude as magnetic north, and
maximum at longitudes 90 either side of this
longitude. The angular difference between
magnetic north and true north is called magnetic
variation. It is vital that when bearings or
headings are used, we are clear on what these are
referenced to.
The imaginary lines of latitude and longitude
described above are curved when superimposed
on the earths surface; they also appear as straight
lines when viewed from above. The shortest Figure 8.3 Location of magnetic north
distance between points A and B on a given route
is a straight line. When this route is examined, the
projection of the path (the track) flown by the
aircraft over the earths surface is described by a B
great circle.
0 is a
~ 7-
Flying in a straight line implies that we are constant
maintaining a constant heading, but this is not the angle and ~

results in
case. Since the lines of longitude converge, flying at a ~~-
travelling at a constant angle at each meridian constant
yields a track that actually curves as illustrated in

Figure 8.4. A track that intersects the lines of

longitude at a constant angle is referred to as a
rhumb line. Flying a rhumb line is readily
achieved by reference to a fixed point, e.g. (a) Local meridians and the rhumb line
magnetic north. The great circle route; however,
requires that the direction flown (with respect to
the meridians) changes at any given time, a role
more suited to a navigation computer. The shortest
distance between
A and B is
8.1.3 Distance and speed defined by a
great circle
The standard unit of measurement for distance
used by most countries around the world (the
exceptions being the UK and USA) is the
kilometre (km). This quantity is linked directly to
the earths geometry; the distance between the ib line intersects each
poles and equator is 10,000 km. The equatorial meridian at the same angle
radius of the earth is 6378 krn; the polar radius is (b) Great circle and the rhumb line
6359 km.
For aircraft navigation purposes, the quantity Figure 8.4 Flying a constant heading
104 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

of distance used is the nautical mile (nm). This Key point

quantity is defined by distance represented by one
minute of arc of a great circle (assuming the earth Although we might consider the earth to be a
to be a perfect sphere). The nautical mile (unlike perfect sphere, this is not the case. The actual
the statute mile) is therefore directly linked to the shape of the earth is referred to as an oblate
geometry of the earth. Aircraft speed, i.e. the rate spheroid.
of change of distance with respect to time, is
given by the quantity knots; nautical miles per
Calculating the great circle distance between
two positions defined by an angle is illustrated in Key point
Figure 8.5. The distance between two positions
Longitude referenced to the prime-meridian
defined by their respective latitudes and extends east or west up to 180 degrees. Latitude
longitudes, (lot], Ion]) and (1a12, lon2), can be is the angular distance north or south of the
calculated from the formula: equator; the poles are at a latitude of 90 degrees.
d cos~(sinQat]) x sin(Iat2) + cos(Iat]) x cos
(1a12) x cos(lon]lon2))

Key point
Great circle
The nautical mile (unlike the statute mile) is
directly linked to the geometry of the earth. This
quantity is defined by distance represented by one
minute of arc of a great circle (assuming the earth
to be a perfect sphere).

Key point
Both latitude and longitude are angular quantities
measured in degrees. For accurate navigation,
degrees can be divided by 60 giving the unit of
Equator minutes; this can be further divided by 60 giving
the unit of seconds.

500 30 (50 x 60) + 30 = 3030 3030 nm

Figure 8.5 Calculation of great circle

distances 8.2 Dead reckoning
Estimating a position by extrapolating from a
Test your understanding 8.1 known position and then keeping note of the
direction, speed and elapsed time is known as
Explain each of the following terms: dead reckoning An aircraft passing over a given
point on a heading of 90 at a speed of 300 knots
1. Latitude will be five miles due east of the given point after
2. Longitude one minute If the aircraft is flying in zero wind
3. Great circle conditions, this simple calculation holds true In
4. Rhumb line.
realistic terms, the aircraft will almost certainly
Aircraft navigation 105
Track (aircrafts path
be exposed to wind at some point during the over the earths surface)
flight and this will affect the navigation -r
calculation. With our aircraft flying on a heading
of 90 at a speed of 300 knots, lets assume that Drift angle
the wind is blowing from the south at 10 knots, Heading 090
see Figure 8.6. In a one hour time period, the air speed 300 knots
that the aircraft is flying in will have moved north
by ten nautical miles. This means that the
aircrafts path (referred to as its track) over the
earths surface is not due east. In other words, the
4J. Direction 180
aircraft track is not the same as the direction in speed io knots
which the aircraft is heading. This leads to a
horizontal displacement (drift) of the aircraft Figure 8.6 Effect of crosswind
from the track it would have followed in zero
wind conditions.
The angular difference between the heading Actual position
and track is referred to as the drift angle (quoted
as being to port/left or starboard/right of the
heading). If the wind direction were in the same
direction as the aircraft heading, i.e. a tail wind, velocity
the aircraft speed of 300 knots through the air
would equate to a ground speed of 310 knots.
Likewise, if the wind were from the east (a Heading and airspeed
headwind) the ground speed would be 290 knots.
Knowledge of the wind direction and speed
allows the crew to steer the aircraft into the wind
Figure 8.7 Resolving actual position
such that the wind actually moves the aircraft
onto the desired track. For dead reckoning
purposes, we can resolve these figures in
mathematical terms and determine a position by Key point
triangulation as illustrated in Figure 8.7.
Although the calculation is straightforward, the The angular difference between the heading and
accuracy of navigation by dead reckoning will track is referred to as the drift angle.
depend on up to date knowledge of wind speed
and direction. Furthermore, we need accurate
measurements of speed and direction. Depending
on the accuracy of measuring these parameters,
8.3 Position fixing
positional error will build up over time when
navigating by dead reckoning. We therefore need When travelling short distances over land, natural
a means of checking our calculated position on a terrestrial features such rivers, valleys, hills etc.
periodic basis; this is the process of position can he used as direct observations to keep a check
fixing. on (pinpointing) the joumeys progress. If the
journey is by sea, then we can use the coastline
and specific features such as lighthouses to
Key point confirm our position. If the journey is now made
at night or out of sight of the coast, we need other
Dead reckoning is used to estimate a position by means of fixing our position.
extrapolating from a known position and then The early navigators used the sun, stars and
keeping note of the direction and distance planets very effectively for navigation purposes;
travelled. if the position of these celestial objects is known,
106 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

then the navigator can confirm a position 8.4 Maps and charts
anywhere on the earths surface. Celestial
navigation (or astronavigation) was used very Maps provide the navigator with a representative
effectively in the early days of long distance diagram of an area that contains a variety of
aircraft navigation. Indeed, it has a number of physical features, e g cities, roads and
distinct advantages when used by the military: topographical information Charts contain lines of
the aircraft does not radiate any signals; latitude and longitude, together with essential
navigation is independent of ground equipment; data such as the location of navigation aids
the references cannot be jammed; navigation Creating charts and maps requnes that we transfer
references are available over the entire globe. distances and geographic features fiom the earths
The disadvantage of celestial navigation for spheiical surface onto a flat piece of paper This
aircraft is that the skies are not always clear and is not possible without some kind of compromise
it requires a great deal of skill and knowledge to in geographical shape, surface area, distance or
be able to fix a position whilst travelling at high direction Many methods of producing charts
speed. Although automated celestial navigation have been developed over the centuiies, the
systems were developed for use by the military, choice of projection depends on the intended
they are expensive; modern avionic equipment purpose
has now phased out the use of celestial In the sixteenth century Gerhardus Mercator,
navigation for commercial aircraft. the Flemish mathematician, geographer and
The earliest ground-based references cartographer, developed what was to become the
(navigation aids) developed for aircraft standard chart format for nautical navigation the
navigation are based on radio beacons. These Mercator projection This is a cylindrical map
beacons can provide angular and/or distance piojection where the lines of latitude and
information; when using this information to longitude are projected from the earths centre,
calculate a pusition fix, the terms are referred to see Figure 8 9 Imagine a cylinder of paper
mathematically as theta (0) and rho (p). By wrapped around the globe and a light inside the
utilising the directional properties of radio waves, globe, this projects the lines of latitude and
the intersection of signals from two or more longitude onto the paper When the cylinder is
navigation aids can be used to fix a position unwrapped, the lines of latitude appear
(thetatheta), see Figure 8.8. Alternatively, if we incorrectly as having equal length Directions and
know the distance and direction (bearing) to a the shape of geographic features remain true,
navigation aid, the aircraft position can be however, distances and sizes become distorted
confirmed (rhotheta). Finally, we can establish The advantage of using this type of chart is that
our position if we know the aircrafts distance the navigator sets a constant heading to reach the
(rhorho) from any two navigation aids, i.e. destination The meridians of the Mercator
without knowledge of the bearing. projected chart are crossed at the same angle, the
track followed is referred to as a rhumb line (see
Figure 8 4)
For aircraft navigation the Mercator projection

might be satisfactory, however, if we want to
navigate by great ciicle routes then we need true
directions An alternative projection used fom
Waypoini created by aircraft navigation, and most popular maps and
intersection of VOR radtala
/ VOR-A (0459 VOR-B charts, is the Lambert azimuthul equal-area
/ VOR.A (2859 piojection This projection was developed by
Johann Heinrich Lambert (172877) and is
particularly useful in high latitudes The
pmojection is developed from the centre point of
VOR-A the geographic feature to be surveyed and
charted Using true north as an example, Figure
Figure 8.8 Position fixing 8 10 illustrates the Lambert projection
Aircraft navigation 107
central meridian selected by cartographer


Figure 8.9 Mercator projection

8.6 Navigation systems development

This section provides a biief overview of the
development of increasingly sophisticated
navigation systems used on aircraft.

8.6.1 Gyro-magnetic compass

The early aviators used visual aids to guide them
along their route; these visual aids would have
included rivers, roads, rail tracks, coastlines etc.
This type of navigation is not possible at high
altitudes or in low visibility and so the earths
magnetic field was used as a reference leading to
the use of simple magnetic compasses in aircraft.
We have seen that magnetic variation has to be
taken into account for navigation; there are
Figure 8.10 Lambert projection (viewed additional considerations to be addressed for
from true north) compasses in aircraft. The earths magnetic field
around the aircraft will be affected by:
the aircrafts own local magnetic fields,
e.g. those caused by electrical equipment
8.5 Navigation terminology sections of the aircraft with high permeability
causing the field to be distorted.
The terms shown in Table 8.1 are used with
numerous navigation systems including INS and Magnetic compasses are also unreliable in the
RNAV; computed values are displayed on a short-term, i.e. during turning manoeuvres.
control display unit (CDU) and/or primary flight Directional gyroscopes are reliable for azimuth
instruments. These terms are illustrated in Figure guidance in the short term, but drift over longer
8.11, all terms are referenced to true north. time periods. A combined magnetic compass
108 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

True North
Aircraft centre line

Next waypoint
or destination

Great circle from last

waypoint or origin




Last waypoint
or origin

Figure 8.11 Navigation terminology

Table 8.1 NavigaUon terminology

Term Abbreviation Desct,~tion

Cross track distance XTK Shortest distance between the present position and desired track
Desired track angle DSRTK Angle between north and the intended flight path of the aircraft
Distance DIS Great circle distance to the next vaypoint or destination
Drift angle DA Angle between the aircrafts heading and ground track
Ground track angle TK Angle between north and the flight path of the aircraft
Heading HDG Horizontal angle measured clockwise between the aircrafts centreline
(longitudinal axis) and a specified reference
Present position P05 Latitude and longitude of the aircrafts position
Track angle error TKE Angle between the actual track and desired track (equates to the desired track
angle minus the ground track angle)
Wind direction WD Angle between north and the wind vector
True airspeed TAS True airspeed measured in knots
Wind speed WS Measured in knots
Ground speed GS Measured in knots
Aircraft navigatIon 109

stabilised by a directional gyroscope (referred to

as a gyro-magnetic compass) can overcome
these deficiencies. The gyro-magnetic compass
(see Figure 8.12), together with an airspeed
indicator, allowed the crew to navigate by dead
reckoning, i.e. estimating their position by
extrapolating from a known position and then
keeping note of the direction and distance
In addition to directional references, aircraft
also need an attitude reference for navigation,
typically from a vertical gyroscope. Advances in
sensor technology and digital electronics have led
to combined attitude and heading reference
systems (AHRS) based on laser gyros and micro- Figure 8.12 Gyro-magnetic compass
electromechanical sensors (see Chapter 17).
Instrumentation errors inevitably lead to
deviations between the aircrafts actual and
calculated positions; these deviations accumulate
over time. Crews therefore need to be able to
confirm and update their position by means of a
fixed ground-based reference, e.g. a radio
navigation aid.

8.6.2 Radio navigation

Early airborne navigation systems using ground-
based navigation aids consisted of a ioop antenna
in the aircraft tuned to amplitude modulated
(AM) commercial radio broadcast stations ADF station

transmitting in the low-/medium-frequency (LF/

MF) bands. Referring to Figure 8.13, pilots would Figure 8.13 ADF radio navigation
know the location of the radio station (indeed, it
would invariably have been located close to or
even in the town/city that the crew wanted to fly today. VOR is the basis of the current network of
to) and this provided a means of fixing a position. airways that are used in navigation charts.
Although technology has moved on, these The advent of radar in the 1940s led to the
automatic direction finder (ADF) systems are development of a number of navigation aids
still in use today. including distance measuring equipment
Operational problems are encountered using (DME). This is a short-/medium-range navigation
low-frequency (LF) and medium-frequency (MF) system, often used in conjunction with the VOR
transmissions. During the mid to late 1940s, it system to provide accurate navigation fixes. The
was evident to the aviation world that an accurate system is based on secondary radar principles, see
and reliable short-range navigation system was Figure 8.15.
needed. Since radio communication systems Navigation aids such as automatic direction
based on very high frequency (VHF) were being finder (ADF), VHF omnidirectional range (VOR)
success~lly deployed, a decision was made to and distance measuring equipment (DME) are
develop a radio navigation system based on VHF. used to define airways for en route navigation,
This system became the VHF omnidirectiohal see Figure 8.16. They are also installed at
range (VOR) system, see Figure 8.14; a system airfields to assist with approaches to those
that is in widespread use throughout the world airfields. These navigation aids cannot, however,
110 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

90 of RF beam

VOR ground station

VHF transmitter
Rotating RF beam
Referenced to magnetic north

Figure 8.14 VOR radio navigation

DME ground

Figure 8.15 Distance measuring equipment (DME)

be used for precision approaches and landings. approach guidance, i.e. azimuth, elevation and
The standard approach and landing system range. The system provides multiple approach
installed at airfields around the world is the angles for both azimuth and elevation guidance.
instrument landing system (ILS), see Figure Despite the advantages of MLS, it has not yet
8.17. The ILS uses a combination of VHF and been introduced on a worldwide basis for
UHF radio waves and has been in operation since commercial aircraft. Military operators of MLS
1946. There are a number of shortcomings with often use mobile equipment that can be deployed
ILS; in 1978 the microwave landing system within hours.
(MLS) was adopted as the long-term replacement. The aforementioned radio navigation aids have
The system is based on the principle of time one disadvantage in that they are land based and
referenced scanning beams and provides only extend out beyond coastal regions. Long-
precision navigation guidance for approach and range radio navigation systems based on
landing. MLS provides thee-dimensional hyperbolic navigation were introduced in the

Aircraft navigation 111

lit .~/N 1K

- F
05541,O1 Lisa //

EN ~

I I4.EOJC5c~flX
~KEt/U~ & :~~
500RI .
I_~~ ft,0 4 505
15cr I~N ~ re5~s ?

I ~ 10544511 -~~~~ !5~
j 40338a

~~s~4&rsr/0o13r,~E OILOIA

ps?~;4 ~5~% -


L607 ~
Route designator
4C~ Magnetic track
VEKIN 135 ~ 349
10Z415c4 vORIDME Distance (nm)

FIR/IJIR upper limit

H DME -I_,_l-.
Lower limit
A reporting point
Aerodrome/airporl symbols
A. reporting poinl
On-request ~o
civil civil/military Military

Figure 8.16 Airways defined by navigation aids

l940s to provide for en route operations over The advent of computers, in particular the
oceans and unpopulated areas. Several hyperbolic increasing capabilities of integrated circuits using
systems have been developed since, including digital techniques, has led to a number of
Decca, Omega and Loran. The operational use of advances in aircraft navigation. One example of
Omega and Decca navigation systems ceased in this is the area navigation system (RNAV); this
1997 and 2000 respectively. Loran systems are is a means of combining, or filtering, inputs from
still very much available today as stand-alone one or more navigation sensors and defining
systems; they are also being proposed as a positions that are not necessarily co-located with
complementary navigation aid for global ground-based navigation aids. Typical navigation
navigation satellite systems. The Loran-C system sensor inputs to an RNAV system can be from
is based on a master station and a number of external ground-based navigation aids such as
secondary stations; the use of VLF radio provides VHF omnirange (VOR) and distance measuring
an increased area of coverage, see Figure 8.18. equipment (DME), see Figure 8.19.
112 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Final approach

4, guidance

(b) Glide slope



(c) Localiser

Figure 8.17 Instrument landing system

8.6.3 Dead reckoning systems A major advance in aircraft navigation came with
the introduction of the inertial navigation
Dead reckoning systems require no external system (INS). This is an autonomous dead
inputs or references from ground stations. reckoning system, i.e. it requires no external
Doppler navigation systems were developed in inputs or references from ground stations. The
the mid-1940s and introduced in the mid-1950s as system was developed in the 1950s for use by the
a primary navigation system. Ground speed and US military and subsequently the space
drift can be determined using a fundamental programmes. Inertial navigation systems (INS)
scientific principle called Doppler shift. Being were introduced into commercial aircraft service
self-contained, the system can be used for long during the early 1970s. The system is able to
distance navigation over oceans and undeveloped compute navigation data such as present position,
areas of the globe. distance to waypoint, heading, ground speed,
Aircraft navigation 113

12G S S
commercial aircraft used to have periscopes to
take celestial fixes for long distance navigation.
An artificial constellation of navigation aids was
Estimated area of initiated in 1973 and referred to as Navstar
ground wave coverage (navigation system with timing and ranging). The
global positioning system (GPS) was developed
for use by the US military; the first satellite was
launched in 1978 and the full constellation was in
3~0 N place and operating by 1994. GPS is now widely
available for use by many applications including
aircraft navigation; the system calculates the
aircraft position by triangulating the distances
from a number of satellites, see Figure 8.20.

8.6.5 Radar navigation

The planned journey from A to B could be
Transmitter affected by adverse weather conditions. Radar
was introduced onto passenger aircraft during the
M Iwo Jima, Japan
W marcus island, Japan 1950s to allow pilots to identify weather
X Hokkaldo, Japan conditions (see Figure 8.21) and subsequently re
V Gesashi, Japan
Z Barrigada, Guam route around these conditions for the safety and
comfort of passengers. A secondary use of
weather radar is a terrain-mapping mode that
Figure 8.18 Loran-C oceanic coverage allows the pilot to identi& features on the ground,
using VLF transmissions e.g. rivers, coastlines and mountains.

8.6.6 Air traffic control

Increasing traffic density, in particular around
airports, means that we need a method of air
traffic control (ATC) to manage the flow of
Waypoint created by VOR traffic and maintain safe separation of aircraft.
radial (O5D~) and DME
distance (25 nm)
The ATC system is based on secondary
surveillance radar (SSR) facilities located at
strategic sites, at or near airfields. Ground
controllers use the SSR system to identi~
VORJOME individual aircraft on their screens, see Figure
Figure 8.19 Area navigation With ever increasing air traffic congestion, and
the subsequent demands on air traffic control
(ATC) resources, the risk of a mid-air collision
increases. The need for improved traffic flow led
wind speed, wind direction etc. It does not need
to the introduction of the traffic alert and
radio navigation inputs and it does not transmit
collision avoidance system (TCAS). This is an
radio frequencies. Being self-contained, the
automatic surveillance system that helps aircrews
system can be used for long distance navigation
and ATC to maintain safe separation of aircraft. It
over oceans and undeveloped areas of the globe.
is an airborne system (see Figure 8.23) based on
secondary radar that interrogates and replies
8.6.4 Satellite navigation
directly with aircraft via a high-integrity data link.
Navigation by reference to the stars and planets The system is functionally independent of ground
has been employed since ancient times; stations, and alerts the crew if another aircraft
114 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

comes within a predetermined time to a potential

/ collision. It is important to note that TCAS is a
/ back-up system, i.e. it provides warnings when
/ other navigation systems (including ATC) have
failed to maintain safe separation of aircraft that
could lead to a collision.

8.7 Navigation systems summary

(a) single satellite describes a circle on the earths surface
Navigation systems for aircraft have evolved with
the nature and role of the aircraft itself. These
individual systems are described in detail in the
following chapters. Each system has been devel
oped to meet specific requirements within the
available technology and cost boundaries. What
ever the requirement, all navigation systems are
concerned with several key factors:
Accuracy: conformance between calculated
and actual position of the aircraft
Integrity: ability of a system to provide
timely warnings of system degradation
(b) Two satellites define two unique positions. Availability: ability of a system to provide
A third satellite defines a unique position the required function and performance
Continuity: probability that the system will
Figure 8.20 Satellite navigation be available to the user
o Coverage: geographic area where each of the
above are satisfied at the same time.

Test your understanding 8.2

The nautical mile is directly linked to the geometry
of the earth; how is a nautical mile defined?

Test your understanding 8.3

Explain the difference between dead reckoning
and position fixing.
energy (echo)

Test your understanding 8.4

For a given airspeed, explain how tailwinds and
Figure 8.21 Weather radar headwinds affect groundspeed
Aircraft navigation ii 5


surveillance radar
(SSR) antenna

Side lobe suppression

(SLS) antenna
surveillance radar
(PSR) antenna

ATc radar transmitter/receiver

ATC radar display

(a) ATC ground station (b) ATC ground display

Figure 8.22 Secondary surveillance radar

Figure 8.23 Traffic alert and collision avoidance system

Test your understanding 8.5 Test your understanding 8.6

Explain the following terms: accuracy, integrity, Describe three ways that bearings and ranges can
availability. be used for position fixing.
116 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

7. One minute of arc of a great circle defines a:

Test your understanding 8.7 (a) nautical mile
(b) kilometre
I. Explain the difference between Mercator and
Lambert projections. (c) knot.

2. Where on the earths surface is the difference 8. The angular difference between magnetic
between a rhumb line and great circle route north and true north is called the:
the greatest? (a) magnetic variation
(b) great circle
(c) prime meridian.

9. Mercator projections produce parallel lines of:

8.8 Multiple choice questions (a) the earths magnetic field
(b) longitude
Longitude referenced to the prime meridian (c) great circle routes.
(a) north or south up to 180 10. With respect to the polar radius, the equatorial
(b) east or west up to 180 radius of the earth is:
(c) east or west up to 90 (a) equal
(b) larger
2 Latitude is the angular distance (c) smaller.
(a) north or south of the equator
(b) east or west of the prime meridian 11. Dead reckoning is the process of:
(c) north or south of the prime meridian (a) fixing the aircrafts position
(b) correcting the aircrafts position
3 The distance between lines of longitude (c) estimating the aircrafts position.
converge at the.
(a) poles 12.The angle between the aircrafts heading and
(b) equator ground track is known as the:
(c) great circle (a) drift angle
(b) cross track distance
4 Lines of latitude are always (c) wind vector.
(a) converging
(b) parallel 13. Magnetic compasses are unreliable in the:
(c) the same length (a) long-term, flying a constant heading
(b) short-term, during turning manoeuvres
5 Degrees of latitude can be divided by 60 (c) equatorial regions.
giving the unit of
(a) longitude 14. The angle between north and the flight path of
(b) minutes the aircraft is the:
(c) seconds (a) ground track angle
(b) drift angle
6 The location of magnetic north is (c) heading.
(a) 80 latitude and 110 longitude, east of the 15.When turning into a 25 knot head wind at
prime meridian constant indicated airspeed, the ground speed
(b) 80 longitude and 110 latitude, west of will:
the prime meridian (a) increase by 25 knots
(c) 80 latitude and 110 longitude, west of (b) remain the same
the prime meridian (c) decrease by 25 knots.
Chapter Automatic direction finder

Radio waves have duectional characteristics as deviations accumulate over time. Crews therefore
we have seen from earlier chapters This is the need to be able to confirm and update their
basis of the automatic direction finder (ADF), one position by means of a fixed ground-based
of eailiest forms of radio navigation that is still in reference.
use today ADF is a short-!medium-iange (200 The early airborne navigation systems using
nm) navigation system providing diiectional ground-based navigation aids consisted of a
information, it operates within the frequency fixed-loop antenna in the aircraft tuned to an
range 1901750 kHz, i e low and medium amplitude modulated (AM) commercial radio
fiequency bands The term automatic is broadcast station. Pilots would know the location
somewhat misleading in todays terms, this refeis of the radio station (indeed, it would invariably
to the introduction of electi omechanical have been located close to or even in the town!
equipment to replace manually operated devices city that the crew wanted to fly to). The fixed-
In this chaptei we will look at the historical loop antenna was aligned with the longitudinal
background to radio navigation, review some axis of the aircraft, with the pilot turning the
typical ADF hardware that is fitted to modern aircraft until he received the minimum signal
commeicial transport aiicraft, and conclude with strength (null reading). By maintaining a null
some piactical aspects associated with the reading, the pilot could be sure that he was flying
operational use of ADF towards the station. This constant turning was
inefficient in terms of fuel consumption and
caused inherent navigation problems in keeping
9.1 Introducing ADF note of the aircrafts position during these
The eaily aviators used visual aids to guide them manoeuvres! The effects of crosswind
along their route, these visual aids would have complicated this process since the aircrafts
included rivers, roads, iail tracks, coastlines etc heading is not aligned with its track.
This type of navigation is not possible in low
visibility and so magnetic compasses weie 9.2 ADF principles
introduced Magnetic compasses are somewhat
unreliable in the short teim, i e during turning The introduction of an automatic direction
manoeuvies Directional gyroscopes are reliable finder (ADF) system addresses this problem. A
in the short term, but duff ovei longer time loop antenna that the pilot could rotate by hand
penods A combined magnetic compass stabilised solves some of these problems; however, this still
by a duectional gyroscope (referied to as a gyro- requires close attention from the crew. Later
magnetic compass) can oveicome these developments of the equipment used an electrical
deficiencies The gyro-magnetic compass, motor to rotate the loop antenna, The received
together with an airspeed indicator, allowed the signal strength is a function of the angular
crew to navigate by dead reckoning, i e position of the loop with respect to the aircraft
estimating their position by extrapolating from a heading and bearing to the station, see Figure 9.1
known position and then keeping note of the (a) and (b). If a plot is made of loop angle and
direction and distance travelled Instrumentation signal strength, the result is a sine wave as shown
eriois inevitably lead to deviations between the in Figure 9.1(c). The null point is easier to
aircrafts actual and calculated positions, these determine than the maximum signal strength
118 Aircraft communications and navigation systems
Eleotromagnelic wave
frequency range 5401620 lcHz) became an
established method of travelling across country.
With the growth of air travel, dedicated radio
navigation aids were installed along popular air
transport routes. These radio stations, known as
non-directional beacons (NDB), gradually
supplemented the commercial radio stations and a
network of NDBs sprang up in the nations
Loop rotation developing their aeronautical infrastructure.
These NDBs broadcast in the low-frequency (LF)
(a) Electromagnetic wave and
loop antenna range 190415 kHz and medium-frequency (MF)
range 510535 kHz. As the quantity of NDBs
increased, air navigation charts were produced
and the NDBs were identified by a two or three
I~fl~F [ 1(1 I (III I letter alpha code linked to the location and
Electromagnetic wave frequency. In Figure 2(c), the NDB located at
(vertically polarised) Mackel in Belgium transmits on 360.5 kHz and is
identified as MAK; note the Morse code, latitude
and longitude details on the chart. Beacons are
deployed with varying power outputs classified as
high (2 kW), medium (SOW to 2 kW) and low
(less than 50 W).
(b) Angle between loop antenna and Table 9.1 provides a list of typical NDBs
electromagnetic wave associated with airports and cities in a typical
European country (note that these are provided
Component of magnetic
Current wave linking with loop is
for illustration purposes only). Beacons marked
a function of sin with an asterisk in this table are referred to as
Null point locator beacons; they are part of the final
approach procedures for an airfield (see Chapter
0 12).

(c) Loop angle and signal strength 9 3 ADF equipment

9.3.1 Antenna
Figure 9.1 Loop antenna output
The rotating loop antenna was eventually
replaced with a fixed antenna consisting of two
since the rate of change is highest. Rotating the loops combined into a single item; one aligned
antenna (rather than turning the aircraft) to with the centreline of the fuselage, the other at
determine the null reading from the radio station right angles as shown in Figure 9.3. This
was a major advantage of the system. The pilot orthogonal antenna is still referred to as the loop
read the angular difference between the.aircrafts antenna. Measuring the signal strength from each
heading and the direction of the radio station, see of the loops, and deriving an angular position in a
Figure 9.2(a), from a graduated scale and a dedicated ADF receiver, determines the direction
bearing to the station could then be determined. to the selected beacon (or commercial radio
The industry drive towards solid-state station). The loop antenna resolves the directional
components, i.e. with no moving parts, has led to signal; however, this can have two possible
the equipment described in Section 9.3. solutions 180 degrees apart. A second sense
Navigation based on ADF (using AM antenna is therefore required to detect non
commercial radio stations broadcasting in the directional radio waves from the beacon; this
Automatic direction finder 119

~ -

o~ -

ADF station

(a) Using an ADF system for navigation (b) ADF non-directional beacon (NDB)
(photo courtesy ofT. Diamond)

(c) MACKEL NDB shown on a navigation chart

Figure 9.2 Navigation by non-directional beacons NDB
120 Aircraft communications and navigation systems
Sense antenna
Table 9.1 Examples of NDB codes and

Name identification code Frequency (kHz)

Felde SO 330.00
Eindhoven EHN 397.00
Eindhoven PH 316.00
Gull GUL 383.50
Maastricht NW 373.00
Maastricht *
ZL 339.00
Rotterdam ROT 350.50
Figure 9.3 ADF antenna
Rotterdam *
PS 369.00
Rotterdam *
RR 404.50
Schiphol cH 388.50
. Sense antenna
Schiphol *
NV 332.00 LOOP ptus sense

Stad STD 386.00

Stadskanaal STK 315.00
Thorn THN 434.00
Twenthe TWN 335.50

Locator beacons

signal is combined with the directional signals

from the ioop antenna to produce a single
directional solution. The polar diagram for a loop
and sense antenna is shown in Figure 9.4; when
the two patterns are combined, it forms a
cardioid. Most commercial transport aircraft are
fitted with two independent ADF systems
typically identified as left and right systems; the
antenna locations for a typical transport aircraft
are shown in Figure 9.5. Figure 9.4 Polar diagram for the ADF loop
and sense antennas
9.3.2 Receiver
ADF receivers are located in the avionic The sense antenna signal is processed in the
equipment bay. The signal received at the receiver via a superhet receiver (see page 46)
antenna is coupled to the receiver in three ways: which allows weak signals to be identified,
together with discrimination of adjacent
The sense signal frequencies. The output of the superhet receiver is
o A loop signal proportional in amplitude to then integrated into the aircrafts audio system.
the cosine of the relative angle of the Loop antenna signals are summed with the sense
aircraft centreline and received signal antenna signal; this forms a phase-modulated
A loop signal proportional in amplitude to (PM) carrier signal. The superhet intermediate
the sine of the relative angle of the aircraft frequency (IF) is coupled with the PM signal into
centreline and received signal. a coherent demodulator stage that senses the
Automatic direction finder 121

Left ADF antenna

Figure 9.5 Location of left and right ADF antennas on a typical transport aircraft

presence of a sense antenna signal from the IF oscillator (BFO) circuit in the ADF receiver. To
stage. The PM component of the signal is produce an audio output, the receiver heterodynes
rebovered from the voltage controlled oscillator (beats) the carrier wave signal with a separate
(VCO) phase lock circuit (see page 53). This signal derived from an oscillator in the receiver.
recovered signal contains the bearing information Some ADF panels have an ADF/ANT switch
received by the antenna and is compared to a where ADF selects normal operation, i.e.
reference modulation control signal. combined sense and loop antennas; and ANT
Receivers based on analogue technology send selects the sense antenna by itself so that the crew
bearing data to the flight deck displays using can confirm that a station is broadcasting, i.e.
synchro systems. Digital receivers transmit without seeking a null. General aviation products
bearing data to the displays using a data bus combine the control panel and receiver into a
system, typically ARINC 429. The ADF receiver single item, see Figure 9.6(c). A changeover
is often incorporated into a multi-mode receiver switch is used to select the active and standby
along with other radio navigation systems. frequencies.

9.3.3 Control panel 9.3.4 AOF bearing display

Aircraft with analogue (electromechanical) The output from the ADF receiver is transmitted
avionics have a dedicated ADF control panel, to a display that provides the pilot with both
located on the centre pedestal, see Figure 9.6(a). magnetic heading and direction to the tuned
An alternative panel shown in Figure 9.6(b) NDB, this can either be a dedicated ADF
enables the crew to select a range of functions instrument as shown in Figure 9.7(a), or a radio
including: frequency selectors/displays and the magnetic indicator (RMI), see Figure 9.7(b).
beat frequency oscillator (BFO). This function is In the RMI, two bearing pointers (coloured red
used when they want to create an audio frequency and green) are associated with the two ADF
for carrier wave transmissions through their audio systems and allow the crew to tune into two
panel. different NDBs at the same time. RMIs can have
NDB carrier waves that are not modulated with a dual purpose; pilots use a switch on the RMI to
an audio component use the beat frequency select either ADF and/or VHF omnidirectional
122 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

range (VOR) bearings (see Chapter 10 for the

latter). Referring to Figure 9.7(c), some aircraft
have a bearing source indicator (located adjacent
to the RMI) that confirms ADF or VOR selection.
The evolution of digital electronics together
with integration of other systems has led to the
introduction of the flight management system
(FMS: see Chapter 19) control display unit
(CDU) which is used to manage the ADF system.
Aircraft fitted with electronic flight instrument
systems (EFIS) have green NDB icons displayed
on the electronic horizontal situation indicator
(EHSI) as shown in Figure 9.7(e).

(a) Location of ADF control panel

Key point
ADF is a short/medium-range (200 nm) navigation
system operating within the frequency range 190
to 1750 kHz, i.e. low and medium frequency
bands. The AUF system uses an orthogonal
antenna consisting of two loops; one aligned with
the centreline of the fuselage, the other at right

Test your understanding 9.1

Why does the ADE system seek a null rather than
the maximum signal strength from a transmitting
(b) Typical ADF control panel

Test your understanding 9.2

Explain the function of the ADF/ANT switch that is
present on some ADF panels.

9.4 Operational aspects of ADF

ADF radio waves are propagated as ground
waves and/or sky waves. Problems associated
(c) ADF panel/receiver for general aviation with ADF are inherent in the frequency range that
the system uses. ADF transmissions are
Figure 9.6 ADF control panels susceptible to errors from:
Automatic direction finder 123

(d) RMI and source indicator

(a) ADF bearing indicator

(b) RM1 with two bearing indications

(e) EHSI with an NDS icon (shown as MAK

on the upper left of the display)

Figure 9.7 ADF displays

Test your understanding 9.3

Explain the purpose of a beat frequency oscillator
(SF0) and why it is needed in an ADF receiver.
(c) Location of RMI and source indicator
124 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

ADF transmitters remain installed throughout the

Atmospheric conditions: the height and world and the system is used as a secondary radio
depth of the ionosphere will vary depending navigation aid. The equipment remains installed
on solar activity. The sky waves (see Figure on modem aircraft, albeit integrated with other
9.8) will be affected accordingly since their radio navigation systems.
associated skip distances will vary due to
refraction in the ionosphere. This is
particularly noticeable at sunrise and sunset.
Physical aspects of terrain: mountains and
valleys will reflect the radio waves causing
multipath reception.
Coastal refraction: low-frequency waves that
are propagated across the surface of the earth
as ground waves will exhibit different
characteristics when travelling over land
versus water. This is due to the attenuation of
the ground wave being different over land and
water. The direction of a radio wave across
land will change (see Figure 9,9) when it
reaches the coast and then travels over water.
This effect depends on the angle between the (a) Atmospheric layers
radio wave and the coast.
Quadrantal error (QE): many parts of the
aircraft structure, e.g. the ftselage and wings,
are closely matched in physical size to the Joe
wavelength of the ADF radio transmissions.
Radiated energy is absorbed in the airframe
and re-radiated causing interference; this
depends on the relative angle between the
direction of travel, the physical aspects of the
aircraft and location of the ADF transmitter.
Corrections can be made for QE in the
Interference: this can arise from electrical
storms, other radio transmissions, static build
up/discharges and other electrical equipment
on the aircraft.
The accuracy of an ADF navigation system is in
(b) Ionosphere and skip distance
the order of 5 degrees for locator beacons and
10 degrees for en route beacons. Any of the Figure 9.8 Sky waves and the ionosphere
above conditions will lead to errors in the bearing
information displayed on the RMI. If these
conditions occur in combination then the
navigation errors will be significant. Pilots cannot
use ADF for precision navigation due to these Key point
The increased need for more accuracy and ADF radio waves are propagated as ground
reliability of navigation systems led to a new waves and/or sky waves. Problems associated
with ADF are inherent in the frequency range that
generation of en route radio navigation aids; this the system uses.
is covered in the nextchapter. In the meantime,
Automatic direction finder 125
Land Sea
Test your understanding 9.6
Where would locator beacons be found?

Test your understanding 9.7

Why are there two pointers on the RMI?
of NDB)

True bearing of NOB

Test your understanding 9.8

Describe how ground and sky waves are affected
(a) local terrain
0 (b) the ionosphere
(c) attenuation over land and water
(d) electrical storms.
No refraction at 9O~ to coastline

Test your understanding 9.9

Land Sea
NOB Explain, in relation to an ADF system, what is
meant by quadrantal error. What steps can be
Figure 9.9 Effect of coastal refraction taken to reduce this error?

Key point 9.5 Multiple choice questions

ADF cannot be used for precision navigation due I. ADF antennas are used to determine what
to inherent performance limitations; it remains as aspect of the transmitted signal?
a backup to other navigation systems. (a) Wavelength
(b) Null signal strength
(c) Maximum signal strength.

Test your understanding 9.4 2. The ADF antennas include:

(a) one sense loop and two directional loops
Why do ADF antennas need a sense loop? (b) two sense loops and two directional loops
(c) two sense loops and one directional loop.

3. ADF operates in the following frequency

Test your understanding 9.5 (a) MF to VHF
How are NDBs identified on navigation charts? (b) LF to MF
(c) VLF.
126 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

4. Bearing to the tuned ADF station is displayed 12. Quadrantal error (QE) is associated with the:
on the: (a) ionosphere
(a) RMI (b) physical aspects of terrain
(b) NDB (c) physical aspects of the aircraft structure.
(c) TrISI.
13.ADF ground waves are affected by:
5. The purpose of an ADF sense antenna is to: (a) the ionosphere
(a) provide directional information to the (b) coastal refraction and terrain
receiver (c) solar activity.
(b) discriminate between NDBs and
commercial broadcast stations 14.ADF sky waves are affected by:
(c) combine with the loop antenna to (a) the ionosphere
determine a station bearing. (b) coastal refraction
(c) the local terrain.
6. The RMI has two pointers coloured red and
green; these are used to indicate: 15. A BFO can be used to establish:
(a) two separately tuned ADF stations (a) the non-directional output of an NDB
(b) AM broadcast stations (red) and NDBs (b) which loop antenna is receiving a null
(green) (c) an audio tone for an NDB.
(c) heading (red) and ADF bearing (green).
16. Referring to Figure 9.10, which icon is for the
7. The bearing source indicator adjacent the RMI NDB?
confirms: (a) HAR
(a) ADF or VOR selection (b) MAK
(b) the NDB frequency (c) WPTO8.
(c) the NDB bearing.

8. NDBs on navigation charts can be identified

(a) five letter codes
(b) two/three letter codes
(c) triangles.

9. Morse code is used to confirm the NDBs:

(a) frequency
(b) name
(c) bearing.

10. During sunrise and sunset, ADF transmissions

are affected by:
(a) coastal refraction
(b) static build-up in the airframe
(c) variations in the ionosphere.

11. NDBs associated with the final approach to an

airfield are called:
(a) locator beacons
(b) reporting points
(c) en route navigation aids. Figure 9.10 See Question 16
Chapter VHF omnidirectional range

We have seen from earlier chapters that radio VOR operates in the same frequency range as the
waves have directional characteristics. In Chapter instrument landing system (ILS), described in
9, we looked at the early use of radio navigation, Chapter 12. Although the two systems are
and some of the operational problems in using completely independent and work on totally
low-frequency (LF) and medium-frequency (MF) different principles, they often share the same
transmissions. During the mid- to late 1940s, it receiver. The two systems are differentiated by
was evident to the aviation world that an accurate their frequency allocations within this range. ILS
and reliable short-range navigation system was frequencies are allocated to the odd tenths of
needed. Since radio communication systems each 0.5 MHz increment, e.g. 109.10 MHz,
based on very high frequency (VHF) were being 109.15 MHz, 109.30 MHz etc. VOR frequencies
successfully deployed, a decision was made to are allocated even tenths of each 0.5 MHz
develop a radio navigation system based on VHF. increment, e.g. 109.20 MHz, 109.40 MHz,
This system became the VHF omnidirectional 109.60 MHz etc. Table 10.1 provides an
range (VOR) system; a system that is in illustration of how these frequencies are allocated
widespread use throughout the world today and is within the 109 MHz range. This pattern is
the basis for the current network of airways that applied from 108 to 111.95 MHz.
are used for navigation.
Table 10.1 Allocation of ILS and VOR
10.1 VOR principles frequencies

10.1.1 Overview ILS frequency (MHZ) VOR frequency (MHZ)

VOR is a short/medium-range navigation system 109.00
operating in the 108117.95 MHz range of
frequencies. This means that the radio waves are 109.10
now propagated as space waves. The problems 109.15
that were encountered with ground and sky waves
in the LF and MF ranges are no longer present
with a VHF system. VOR navigation aids are 109.30
identified by unique three-letter codes (derived 109.35
from their name, e.g. London VOR is called
LON, Dover VOR is called DVR etc.). The code
is modulated onto the carrier wave as a 1020 Hz 109.50
tone that the crew can listen to as a Morse code 109.55
signal. Some VOR navigation aids have an
automatic voice identification announcement that
provides the name of the station; this alternates 109.70
with the Morse code signal. The location of the 109.75
VOR navigation aids (specified by latitude and
longitude) together with their carrier wave
frequencies is provided on navigation charts as 109.90
with ADF, 109.95
128 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

10.1.2 Overview Table 10.2 Theoretical LOS range

In addition to the inherently improved system
Altitude (feet) Range (rim)
performance and navigation reliability, VOR has
another feature that makes it extremely useful for 100 10
air navigation. The VOR system has the ability to 1,000 32
transmit specific bearing information, referred to
5,000 70
as a radial, see Figure 10.1(a). The pilot can
select any radial from a given VOR navigation 10,000 100
aid and fly to or from that aid. Since the system is 20,000 141
line of sight, i.e. receiving signals as space
waves, the altitude of the aircraft will have a
direct relationship with the range within which Table 10.3 Navigation aid classifications
the system can be used, see Figure 10.1(b).
Using VHF navigation aids imposes a limit on
the theoretical working range that can be Classification Altitude (feet) Range (nm)
obtained. The maximum theoretical line-of-sight
Terminal 1,00012,000 25
(LOS) distance between an aircraft and the
ground station is given by the relationship: Low altitude 1,00018,000 40
High altitude 18,000-45,000 130
d = 1.l~J~

where d is the distance in nautical miles, and h is

the altitude in feet above ground level (assumed 10.1.3 Conventional VOR (CVOR)
to be flat terrain). The theoretical LOS range for There are two types of VOR ground navigation
altitudes up to 20,000 feet is given in Table 10.2. transmitter: conventional and Doppler. The
At higher altitudes, it is possible to receive conventional VOR (CVOR) station radiates two
VOR signals at greater distances but with reduced signals: omnidirectional and directional on a
signal integrity. Although the actual range also continuous basis. The omnidirectional (or
depends on transmitter power and receiver reference) signal is the carrier wave frequency of
sensitivity, the above relationship provides a good the station, amplitude modulated to 30 Hz. The
approximation. In practice, navigation aids have a directional signal is radiated as a cardioid pattern
designated standard service volume (SSV); this rotating at 30 revolutions per second. The sub-
defines the reception limits within an altitude carrier frequency is 9960 Hz, frequency
envelope as shown in Table 10.3. modulated in the range 9960 480 Hz at 30 Hz.
The directional signal is arranged to be in
phase with the reference signal when the aircraft
is due north (magnetic) of the VOR station. As
Key point the cardioid pattern rotates around the station, the
two signals become out of phase on a progressive
VOR radials are referenced to magnetic north; basis, see Figure 10.2. The bearing between any
they are the basis of airways for en route
given angle and magnetic north is determined by
the receiver as the phase angle difference between
the reference and directional signals. This
difference in phase angle is resolved in the
aircraft receiver and displayed to the crew as a
Key point radial from the VOR station, see Figure 10.3.
Locations of conventional VOR (CVOR)
VOR transmissions are line of sight therefore ground stations have to be careflilly planned to
range increases with increased altitude. take into account local terrain and obstacles.
VHF omnidirectional range 129

90 of RF beam

VOR ground station

VHF transmitter
Rotating RE beam
Referenced to magnetic norTh

(a) VHF omni-range (VOR) overview


Ground station

......_Approximate range__......~

(b) VHF omni-rangeline of sight

Figure 10.1 VOR overview

Mountains and trees can cause multipath omnidirectional transmitter in the centre,
reflections resulting in distortion (known as siting amplitude modulated at 30 Hz; this is the
errors) of the radiated signal. These errors can be reference phase. The directional signal is derived
overcome with an enhanced second-generation from a 44 feet diameter circular array comprising
system known as Doppler VOR (DVOR). up to 52 individual antennas, see Figure 10.4(a)
and (b). Each antenna transmits in turn to
10.1.4 Doppler VOR (DVOR) simulate a rotating antenna.
Consider two aircraft using the DVOR station
Doppler is usually associated with self-contained
navigation systems, and this subject is described as illustrated in Figure 10.4(c). The effect of the
in a separate chapter. The Doppler effect is also rotating 9960 Hz signal is to produce a Doppler
applied to the second-generation version of VOR shift; aircraft A will detect a decreased frequency,
aircraft B will detect an increased frequency.
ground transmitters. The Doppler effect can be
Doppler shift creates a frequency modulated (FM)
summarised here as: ...the frequency of a wave
apparently changes as its source moves closer to, signal in the aircraft receiver over the range 9960
or farther away from an observer. I-lz 480 Hz varying at 30 Hz in a sine wave.
The DVOR ground station has an Note that the perceived frequency will be 9960
130 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

I \30 rps.

(a) Conventional VOR reference




(b) Variable signal phase relationship

(c) Conventional VOR navigation aid

Figure 10.2 Conventional VOR (CVOR)

VHF omnidirectional range 131

10.2 Airborne VOR equipment

Modern tiansport aircraft have two VOR systems
often designated left and right; note that airborne
z5~ equipment is the same for conventional and
Doppler VOR. Radio frequency (RF) signals
from the antenna are processed in the receiver as
determined by frequency and course selections
from the control panel; outputs are sent to various

10.2.1 Antennas
The VOR antenna is a horizontally polarised,
(a) VOR bearing
omnidirectional half-wave dipole, i.e. a single
conductor with a physical length equal to half the
wavelength of the VOR signals being received.
255~ bearing to VOR station Two such antennas are formed into a single
(tuned by left VOR receiver)
package and usually located in the aircraft fin as
indicated in Figure 10.5. They are packaged
within a composite fairing for aerodynamic
streamline purposes. The antennas are connected
to the receivers via coaxial cables.

10.2.2 Receivers
VOR receivers are often combined with other
radio navigation functions, e.g. the instrument
landing system; receivers are located in the
avionic equipment bay, see Figure 10.6.
VOR receivers are based on the super
(b) RMI heterodyne principle with tuning from the control
panel. The received radio frequency signal is
Figure 10.3 VOR bearings and displays passed through an amplitude modulation filter to
separate out the:
o 30 Hz tone from the rotating pattern
l-lz when the aircraft are in the positions shown in
Figure 10.4(c). The phase difference measured in voice identification (if provided from the
the airborne equipment depends on the bearing of navigation aid)
the aircraft relative to the station. Since the FM

o Morse code tone; 9960 Hz signal FM by
variable signal is less prone to interference, 480 Hz at 30 Hz reference tone.
DVOR performance is superior to CVOR. Voice and Morse code tones are integrated with
DVOR actually uses two rotating patterns as the audio system. A comparison of the phase
shown in Figure 10.4(d). These patterns angles of the variable and reference 30 Hz signals
(diagonally opposite each other) rotate at 30 produces the VOR radial signal. Receivers based
revolutions per second; one pattern is 9960 Hz on analogue technology interface with the flight
above the reference, the other is 9960 1-lz below deck displays using synchro systems. Digital
the reference frequency. The diameter of the receivers interface with other systems using a
array, together with the speed of pattern rotation data bus system, typically ARINC 429. Receivers
creates a Doppler shift of 480 Hz (at VOR usually combine both VOR and instrument
frequencies). landing system functions (see Chapter 12).
132 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Doppler VOR (DVOR) navigation aid (b) Doppler VOR (DVOR) navigation aid
(photo courtesy ofT. Diamond) (photo courtesy ofT. Diamond)

- Received frequency
less than f

Rotating signal
with transmitting frequency =

ft I Received frequency
greater than f

(c) Rotating transmitting signal

central fixed antenna transmitting on ~

Antenna transmitting on (f~ + f5)

Antenna transmitting on (f~ f5)

(d) Double sideband Doppler VOR

Figure 10.4 Doppler VOR (DVOR)

VHF omnidirectional range 133

VOR antennas

Figure 10.5 Location of VOR antennas

10.2.3 Control panels on the RMI to select either ADF and/or VOR
bearings (see Chapter 9 for ADF). Some aircraft
Control panels identified as VHF NAV can be
have a bearing source indicator adjacent to the
located on the glare shield (as shown in Figure
RMI to confirm ADF or VOR selection, see
10.7) or centre pedestal. This panel is used to
Figure 10.8(c).
select the desired course and VOR frequencies.
In order to fly along an airway, first it has to be
General aviation products have a combined VHF
intercepted. This is achieved by flying towards
navigation and communications panelsee
the desired radial on a specified heading. The
Figure 10.6(b)this can be integrated with the
method of displaying the VOR radial depends on
GPS navigation panel.
the type of avionic fit. Electromechanical
instruments include the omni-bearing selector
10.2.4 VOR displays
(085) and course deviation indicator (CDI), see
The bearing to a VOR navigation aid (an output Figure 10.9. The omni-bearing selector (OBS)
from the receiver) can be displayed on the radio indicator has a number of features; the selector is
magnetic indicator (RMI); this is often shared used to manually rotate the course card. This card
with the ADF system as discussed in the previous is calibrated from 0 to 360 and indicates the
chapter. The RMI, Figure 10.8(a), provides the VOR bearing selected to fly TO or FROM.
pilot with both magnetic heading and direction to In Figure 10.9(a), a VOR radial of 345 has
the tuned VOR navigation aid. The two bearing been selected. The deviation pointer moves to the
pointers (coloured red and green) are associated left or right to guide the pilot in the required
with the two VOR systems and allow the crew to direction to maintain the selected course. Each
tune into two different VOR navigation aids at dot on the scale represents a 2 deviation from the
the same time. On some instruments, a switch on selected course. The back-course (BC) indicator
the RMI is used to select either ADF or VOR indicates when flying FROM the VOR navigation
bearing information, see Figure 10.8(b). RMIs aid. On some instruments, the BC indicator is
therefore have a dual purpose; pilots use a switch replaced by a TO/FROM display in the form of
134 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Figure 10.7 Typical VOR control panel

an arrow. A red OFF flag indicates when the:

o VOR navigation aid is beyond reception range
pilot has not selected a VOR frequency
o VOR system is turned off, or is inoperative.
An updated version of this instrument is the CDI.
This has a compass display and course selector as
shown in Figure 10.9(b). The course selector
(lower righthand side of instrument) is set to the
desired VOR radial; a deviation pointer moves
left or right of the aircraft symbol to indicate if
(a) VOR receiver (remotely located in the the aircraft is to the right or left of the selected
aircrafts avionic equipment bay) radial.
For aircraft with electronic flight instruments,
the desired radial is displayed on the electronic
horizontal situation indicator (EHSI). This EHSI
display can either be selected to show a
conventional compass card (Figure 10.10(a)) or
expanded display (Figure 10.10(b)). As the radial
is approached the deviation bar gradually aligns
with the selected course.
If flying manually, the crew tUrn the aircraft
onto the selected course whilst monitoring the
deviation bar; when it is centred, the radial has
been intercepted and the ElISI will display TO
confirming that the inbound radial is being
followed. The flight continues until the VOR
navigation is reached, and the radial to the next
navigation aid is selected. If the EHSI were still
(b) Navigation and communications panel! selected to the original inbound radial, the FF151
receiver used in general aviation would display FROM. The lateral deviation bar
therefore shows if the aircraft is flying on the
selected radial, or if it is to the left or right of the
Figure 10.6 VOR receivers radial.
VHF omnidirectional range 135

(a) RMI with two bearing pointers

Right omni-bearing pointer Left omni-bearing pointer

Left bearing pointer Right bearing pointer

source control source control

(b) RMI source control (VOR/ADF)

(c) RMI and bearing source annunciator

Figure 10.8 VOR displays and indicators

136 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

10.3 Operational aspects of VOR

Radials from any given VOR navigation aid are
the basis of airways; system accuracy is typically
within one degree. These are the standard routes
flown by aircraft when flying on instruments.
When two VOR radials intersect, they provide a
unique navigation position fix based (theta
theta). The accuracy of this fix is greatest when
the radials intersect at right angles. Figure 10.11
illustrates how navigation charts are built up on a
network of VOR radials; the accuracy of VOR
radials is generally very good (1 degree). In this
illustration, the navigation aid located near
(a) Omnibearing selector Brussels (abbreviated BUB) transmits on 114.6
MHz. Three radials can be seen projected from
this navigation aid on 136, 310 and 321. These
radials are used to define airways A24 and 0120.
Note the Morse code output and latitude!
longitude for the navigation aid.
The intersecting radials from navigation aids
are used to define reporting points for en route
navigation. These reporting points are given five
letter identification codes associated with their
geographic location. For example, the reporting
point HELEN is defined by airways 05 and
Al20. The flexibility of VOR is greatly increased
when co-located distance measuring equipment
(DME) is used, thereby providing rhotheta fixes
from a single navigation aid. There are examples
(b) Course deviation indicator (CDI) of VOR-only navigation aids, e.g. Perth in
Scotland (identification code PTH, frequency
Figure 10.9 Omni-bearing selector and 110.40 MHz). The majority of VOR navigation
course deviation indicator aids are paired with DME; this system is
described in the next chapter.

Key point
Two intersecting VOR radials can be used to Test your understanding 10.1
define unique locations known as reporting points;
these are used for air traffic control purposes. Why are VOR transmissions line of sight only?

Key point Test your understanding 10.2

Doppler VOR was introduced to overcome siting Calculate (a) the line of sight range for an aircraft
problems found with conventional VOR. The two at an altitude at 7,500 feet and (b) the altitude of
systems operate on different principles; however, an aircraft that would yield a line of sight range of
the airborne equipment is the same. 200 nautical miles.
VHF omnidirectional range 137

Heading orientation indicator and

reference (magnetic heading)
Selected heading
course select pointer

Lateral deviation scale

Aircraft symbol

Lateral deviation bar

Source annunciator To/From annunciator

(a) EHSI VOR full mode

Distance display
Weather radar mode.
gain and tilt

course select
Weather radar display

Lateral deviation bar Selected heading


Lateral deviation scale

To/From annunciator

(b) EHSI VOR expanded mode

Figure 10.10 VOR electronic displays

Test your understanding 10.3 Test your understanding 10.5

How can the crew identify a specific VOR Explain how a VOR radial is captured.
navigation aid?

Test your understanding 10.4 Test your understanding 10.6

Where can a VOR radial be displayed? Why does an RMI have two VOR pointers?
138 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

036 (M)
Heading 036 (M)

Pointer indicates
VOR direction

selected track: 2~8~ SII

(a) (b)



(c) Airways using VOR radials

Figure 10.11 VOR radials and airways

Test your understanding 10.7 Test your understanding 10.8

What is the difference in aircraft equipment What is the Morse code output used for in a VOR
between conventional and Doppler VOR? transmission?

Key point Key point

Navigation charts are built up on a network of VOR operates in the frequency band extending
VOR radials. We shall see in later chapters how from 108 MHz to 117.95 MHz. Three alpha
these charts are supplemented by area navigation characters are used to identify specific VOR
waypoints. navigation aids.
VHF omnidirectional range 139

(c) Airway network over Belgium

Figure 10.11 (continued)

10.4 Multiple choice questions 3. Where is the deviation from a selected VOR
radial displayed?
1. VOR operates in which frequency range? (a) RMI
(a) LF (b) HSI
(b)MF (c) NDB.
(c) VHF.
4. At which radial will the directional wave be
2. VOR signals are transmitted as what type of out of phase by 90 degrees with the non
wave? directional wave?
(a) Sky wave (a) 090 degrees
(b) Ground wave (b) 000 degrees
(c) Space wave. (c) 180 degrees.
140 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5. At which radial will the directional signal be 12.The DVOR navigation aid has an
in phase with the non-directional signal? omnidirectional transmitter located in the:
(a) 090 degrees (a) centre
(b) 000 degrees (b) outer antenna array
(c) 180 degrees. (c) direction of magnetic north.

6. VOR navigation aids are identified by how 13. When flying overhead a VOR navigation aid,
many alpha characters? the reliability of directional signals:
(a) Two (a) decreases
(b)Three (b) increases
(c) Five. (c) stays the same.

7. VOR radials are referenced to: 14. Reporting points using VOR navigation aids
(a) non-directional signals from the are defined by the:
navigation aid (a) identification codes
(b) magnetic north (b) intersection of two radials
(c) true north. (c) navigation aid frequencies.

8. The RMI has two pointers coloured red and 15. With increasing altitude, the range of a VOR
green; these are used to indicate: transmission will be:
(a) the bearing of two separately tuned VOR (a) increased
stations (b) decreased
(b) directional (red) and non-directional (c) the same.
transmissions (green)
(c) the radials of two separately tuned VOR 16. Referring to Figure 10.12, the instrument
stations. shown is called the:
(a) omni-bearing selector (OBS)
9. Morse code tones are used to specify the (b) radio magnetic indicator (RMI)
VOR: (c) course deviation indicator (CDI).
(a) identification
(b) frequency
(c) radial.

10. The intersection of two VOR radials provides

what type of position fix?
(a) Rhorho
(b) Thetatheta
(c) Rhotheta.

11. An aircraft is flying on a heading of 090

degrees to intercept the selected VOR radial
of 180 degrees; the HSI will display that the
aircraft is:
(a) right of the selected course
(b) left of the selected course
(c) on the selected course. Figure 10.12 See Question 16
Chapter Distance measuring equipment

The previous two chapters have been concerned

with obtaining directional information for the
purposes of airborne navigation. In this chapter
we will look at a system that provides the crew
with the distance to a navigation aid. Distance
measuring equipment (DME) is a short/medium-
range navigation system, often used in
conjunction with the VOR system to provide
accurate navigation fixes. The system is based on
secondary radar principles, and operates in the L
band of radar. Before looking at what the system
does and how it operates in detail, we need to Figure 11.1 Primary radar
take at look at some basic radar principles.

11.1 Radar principles

The word radar is derived from radio detection
and ranging; the initial use of radar was to locate \\
aircraft and display their range and bearing on a
monitot (etthei giound based oi in anothei
aircraft). This type of radar is termed primary
radar: Energy is radiated via a rotating radar (a) Secondary radar used for DME
antenna to illuminate a target; this target could
be an aircraft, the ground or a cloud. Some of this
energy is reflected back from the target and is
collected in the same antenna, see Figure 11.1.
The strength of the returned energy is measured
and used to determine the range of the target. A
rotating antenna provides the directional
information such that the target can be displayed
on a screen.
Primary radar has its disadvantages; one of
which is that the amount of energy being
transmitted is very large compared with the
amount of energy reflected from the target. An
alternative method is secondary radar that
transmits a specific low energy signal (the
interrogation) to a known target. This signal is (b) DME transponder (right of photo)
analysed and a new (or secondary) reply signal, (photo courtesy ofT. Diamond)
i.e. not a reflected signal, is sent back to the
origin, see Figure 11.2(a). Secondary radar was Figure 11.2 DME overview
142 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

developed during the Second World War to Referring to Figure 11.3(b) it can be seen that the
differentiate between friendly aircraft and ships: actual distance being measured by the
Identification Friend or Foe (1FF). The principles interrogator is the slant range, i.e. not the true
of secondary radar now have a number of distance (horizontal range) over the ground. The
applications including distance measuring effects of slant range in relation to the horizontal
equipment (DME). range are greatest at high altitudes and/or when
the aircraft is close to the navigation aid. Taking
this to the limit, when the aircraft is flying over a
11.2 DME overview DME navigation aid, it would actually be
measuring the aircrafts altitude!
The DME navigation aid contains a transponder
(receiver and transmitter) contained within a
single navigation aid, Figure 11.2(b). The aircraft
equipment radiates energy pulses to the DME
navigation aid; secondary signals are then
transmitted back to the aircraft. An on-board Ground station
interrogator measures the time taken for the
signals to be transmitted and received at the
aircraft. Since we know the speed of radio wave
propagation, the interrogator can calculate the
distance to the DME navigation aid. DME
navigation aids can either be self-contained (a) Line of sight versus altitude
ground stations, or co-located with a VOR
navigation aid, Figure 11.2(c).
Since the system is line of sight, the altitude
of the aircraft will have a direct relationship with
the range that the system can be used, see Figure
11.3(a). Using DME navigation aids imposes a
limit on the working range that can be obtained.
The maximum line-of-sight (LOS) distance
between an aircraft and the ground station is
given by the relationship:
d = 1. iJ~ 4 9o~izaiiW ango I

where d is the distance in nautical miles, and h is (b) DME slant range
the altitude in feet above ground level (assumed
to be flat terrain). The theoretical LOS range for Figure 1t3 DME range terminology
altitudes up to 20,000 feet is given in Table 11.1.

Test your understanding 11.1

Table 11.1 Theoretical LOS range What is the difference between primary and
secondary radar?
Altitude (feet) Range (nm)
100 10
1000 32
Test your understanding 11.2
5,000 70
10,000 100 Distinguish between slant range and horizontal
20,000 141
Distance measuring equipment 143

11.3 OME operation 11.4 Equipment overview

The signals transmitted by the interrogator are a Commercial transport aircraft are usually fitted
pan of pulses, each of 3 5 ms duration and 12 ms with two independent OME systems, comprising
apart modulated on the DME navigation aid antennas and interrogators
frequency The interrogator generates a pulse-pair The DME antennas are L-band blades, located
repetition rate between 5 and 150 pulse-pairs per on the underside of the aircraft fuselage, see
second At the DME navigation aid, the Figure 11 4(a), note that the antenna is dual
transponder receives these pulses and, after a 50 purpose in that it is used for both transmitting and
ms time delay, transmits a new pair of pulses at a receiving
flequency 63 MHz above or below the The interiogators are located in the equipment
interrogators frequency The airci afts bays (Figure Il 4(b)) and provide three main
interrogator ieceives the pulses and matches the flinctions transmitting, ieceiving and calculation
time interval between the transmitted pair of of distance to the selected navigation aid
pulses This ensures that other aircraft Transmission is in the range 1025 to 1150 MHz,
interrogating the same DME navigation aid at the receiving is in the range 962 to 1215 MHz,
same time only process their own pulses channel spacing is 1 MHz The inteiiogatoi
By measuiing the elapsed time between operates in several modes
transmitting and receiving (and taking into
account the 50 ins time delay) the interrogator Standby
calculates the distance to the navigation aid Seaich
DME is a line of sight system with a maximum o Track
range of approximately 200 nm, this equates to Scan
approximately 2400 ms elapsed time taken foi a Memory
pair of pulses to be tiansmitted and received, Fault
taking into account the 50 ins time delay in the Self-test
ground station System accuracy is typically When the system is first powered up, it enters the
o s nm, or 3% of the calculated distance, standby mode, transmissions are inhibited, the
whichever is the greater receiver and audio are operative, the DME
display is four dashes to indicate no computed
data (NCD) The receiver monitors pulse-pairs
Test your understanding 11.3 received from any local giound stations If
sufficient pulse-pairs are counted, the interiogatoi
What is the typical accuracy and maximum range
enteis the seaich mode The transmitter now
of a DME system9
transmits pulse-pairs and monitoms any returns,
synchronous pulse-pairs are converted from time
into distance and the system enteis the track
mode Distance to the navigation aid will now be
Key point displayed on the DME indicator (see Figure
The varying interval between pulse-pairs ensures 11 5) The scan mode has two submodes duected
that the DME interrogator recognises its own scanning for multiple navigation aid tuning, up to
signals and rejects other signals five stations can be scanned in accordance with a
piedetermined area navigation auto-tuning
programme (desciibed in moie detail in Chapter
16) Alternatively, flee scanning occuis for any
Key point DME navigation aids within iange If pulse-pairs
from any navigation aids are not teceived after a
DME is based on secondary radar, it operates in short period of time (two seconds typical), the
the L-band between 962 MHz and 1215 MHz interrogator goes into memoiy mode whereby
(UHF) with channel spacing at 1MHz distance is calculated from the most recently
144 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

DME (right)
DME (left)

K~ c
(a) Location of DME antennas

received pulse-pairs. Memory mode expires after

a short period of time, typically ten seconds, or
until pulse-pairs are received again. If the system
detects any fault conditions, the distance display
is blanked out, Self-test causes the system to run
through a predetermined sequence causing the
indicators to read: blank, dashes (NCD) and 0.0
DME outputs can be displayed in a variety of
ways, see Figure 11.5. These displays include
dedicated readouts, electronic flight instrument
systems (FF15), combined panels/transceivers
(for general aviation) and radio distance magnetic
indicators (RDMI). When selecting a co-located
VOR-DME navigation aid, the crew only needs
to tune into the VOR frequency; the DMF
frequency is autnmatically selected.

(b) Location of DME transceiver Key point

Figure 11.4 DME equipment When no computed data (NCD) is available this
condition is displayed as four dashes.

Key point

VOR and DME systems operate on different Test your understanding 11.4
frequencies. When they are co-located, the DME
frequency is automatically selected when the pilot List and describe four modes in which a DME
tunes into the VOR frequency. interrogator can operate.
Distance measuring equipment 145

DME distance (nm)

(d) Electronic instrumentDME display

(a) Self-contained DME displays
Figure 11.5 Various types of DME display

11.5 En route navigation using radio

navigation aids

Basic en route navigation guidance for

commercial aircraft can be readily accomplished
using co-located VOR and DME systems, thereby
providing rhotheta fixes from a single
navigation aid. The DME frequency is paired
with the VOR frequency; this means that only the
VOR frequency needs to be tuned, the DME
frequency is automatically tuned as a result.
Alternatively, rhorho fixes can be established
from a pair of DME navigation aids. Note that
(b) DME panel/transceiver for general aviation this produces an ambiguous fix unless another
DME is used, see Figure 11.6. An example of
DME transponder locations and co-located VOR
DME navigation aids in Switzerland is provided
in Table 11.2.


OMEI ..) DM22

(c) Radio distance magnetic indicator (RDMI) Figure 11.6 Ambiguous DMEDME position
146 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Table 112 Locations of VOR and DME

navigation aids in Switzerland

Name Identification code Type

Corvatsch OVA DME
Fribourg FRI VOR-DME
Geneva Cointrin GVA VOR-DME
Grenchen GRE VOR-DME
Hochwald HOC VOR-DME
Passeiry PAS VOR-DME
Trasadingen TR~ VOR-DME
Willisau WIL VOR-OME
Zurich East ZUE VOR-DME Figure 11.7 TACAN navigation aid

In the US, a combined rhotheta system was When co-located with a VOR navigation aid,
introduced for military aircraft known as military and commercial aircraft can share the
TACAN (tactical air navigation). This system is a VORTAC facility. Referring to Figure 11.8,
short-range bearing and distance navigation aid military aircraft obtain their distance and bearing
operating in the 9621215 MHz band. TACAN information from the TACAN part of the
navigation aids (see Figure 11.7) are often co VORTAC; commercial aircraft obtain their
located with VOR navigation aids; these are distance information from the TACAN, and
identified on navigation charts as VORTAC. bearing information from the VOR part of the
The TACAN navigation aid is essentially a TACAN. Reporting points (shown as triangles)
DME transponder (using the same pulse pair and based on DME navigation aids, e.g. the
frequency principles as the standard DME) to VORTAC navigation aid located at Cambrai
which directional information has been added; (CMB), northern France, are illustrated in Figure
both operate in the same UHF band. An important 11.9. The intersecting radials from navigation
feature of TACAN is that both distance and aids are used to define reporting points for en
bearing are transmitted on the same frequency; route navigation. These reporting points are
this offers the potential for equipment economies. given five-letter identification codes associated
Furthermore, because the system operates at a with their geographic location. For example, the
higher frequency than VOR, the antennas and reporting point HELEN (at the top of the chart)
associated hardware can be made smaller. This is defined by a distance and bearing from the
has the advantage for military use since the Brussels VORJDME navigation aid.
TACAN equipment can be readily transported TACAN frequencies are specified as channels
and operated from ships or other mobile that are allocated to specific frequencies, e.g.
platforms. RaleighDurham VORTAC in North Carolina,
Distance measuring equipment 147

Distance Bearing Distance

- Bearing

N R7/ r

Combined navigation aide

Figure 11.8 VORTAC navigation aid and associated aircraft functions

roam -


Rowe designator
L607t A_Magnetic track
Distance (nnl)
1n--1-- FtRIUtR

Aercdrcme/eirpoit aymbols

A reporting point Civil Civil/military Military

Figure 11.9 Reporting points defined byVORDME

148 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

USA, operates on channel I 19X. This

corresponds to a:
S VOR frequency of 117.2 MHz
S DME interrogation frequency of 1143 MHz
a DME reply frequency of 1206 MHz
a Pulse code of 12 ms.
Note that since DME, VOR and VORTAC
navigation aids have to be located on land, the
airways network does not provide a great deal of
coverage beyond coastal regions.
Referring to Figure 11.10, a combination of
VOR, DME and VORTAC stations (see Figure
11.11) located in a number of European countries
provides a certain amount of navigation guidance Figure 11.11 Typical VORDME navigation
in the North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea and North aid (photo courtesy T. Diamond)
Sea. This diagram assumes a line-of-sight range
of approximately 200 nm. The gaps in this radio
navigation network can be overcome by the use
of alternative navigation systems including: Test your understanding 11.5
inertial navigation (INS), Doppler, satellite
navigation and Loran-C, these are all described Explain what is meant by frequency pairing.
elsewhere in this book.

20W 0W 20E 40E



Figure 11.10 Approximate max. line of sight navigation coverage for northern Europe
Distance measuring equipment 149

Test your understanding 11.6 4. DME signals are transmitted:

(a) by line of sight
Describe two ways in which DME distance (b) as ground waves
information is displayed. (c) as sky waves.

5. An RDMI provides the following information:

(a) distance and bearing to a navigation aid
Test your understanding 11.7 (b) deviation from a selected course
(c) the frequency of the selected navigation
DME ground stations could be responding to aid.
numerous aircraft; how does the airborne DME
system recognise its own signals and reject 6. Slant range errors are greatest when the
signals intended for other aircraft? aircraft is flying at:
(a) high altitudes and close to the navigation
(b) high altitudes and far from the navigation
Test your understanding 11.8 (c) low altitudes and far from the navigation
What information does an RDMI provide the aid.
7. To select a co-located VOR-DME navigation
aid, the crew tunes into the:
(a) DME frequency
(b) VOR frequency
Test your understanding 11.9 (c) NDB frequency.
What type of information does a VORTAC 8. The I3ME interrogator is part of the:
(a) airborne equipment
(b) DME navigation aid

9. The varying interval between pulse-pairs

11 6 Multiple choice questions ensures that the interrogator:
(a) recognises its own pulse-pairs and rejects
1. DME is based on what type of radar? other signals
(a) Primary (b) recognises other pulse-pairs and rejects its
(b) Secondary own signal
(c) VHF. (c) tunes into a VOR station and DME
navigation aid.
2. DME provides the following information to
the crew: 10. When a DME indicator is receiving no
(a) bearing to a navigation aid computed data, it will display:
(b) deviation from a selected course (a) dashes
(c) distance to a navigation aid. (b) zeros
(c) eights.
3. When tuned into a VORTAC, commercial
aircraft obtain their distance and bearing II. Using a collocated VORDME navigation aid
information from the: produces what type of position fix?
(a) TACAN and VOR (a) Rhorho
(b) DME and VOR (b) Rhotheta
(c) DME and TACAN. (c) Thetatheta.
150 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

12. Distance and bearing signals from a TACAN 17. Referring to Figure 11.14, the installation on
navigation aid are transmitted on: the right is a DME:
(a) HF (a) transponder
(b) UHF (b) transmitter
(c) VHF. (c) receiver.

13. Using two DME navigation aids provides how

many calculated positions?
(a) two
(b) one
(c) three.

14. DME operates in which frequency band?

(a) UHF
(b) VHF
(c) LF/MF.

15. The instrument shown in Figure 11.12 is

called the:
(a) RMI
(b) RDMI
(c) CDI.

16. Referring to Figure 11.13, the display is

(a) maximum distance
(b) minimum distance Figure 11.13 See Question 16
(c) no computed data.

Figure 11.12 See Question 15 Figure 11.14 See Question 17

Chapter Instrument landing system

Navigation aids such as automatic direction finder the two systems are completely independent and
(ADF), VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) and work on totally different principles, they often
distance measuring equipment (DME) are used to share the same receiver. The two systems are
define airways for en route navigation. They are differentiated by their frequency allocations
also installed at airfields to assist with approaches within this range. ILS frequencies are allocated to
to those airfields. These navigation aids cannot, the odd tenths of each 0.5 MHz increment, e.g.
however, be used for precision approaches and 109.10 MHz, 109.15 MHz, 109.30 MI-Iz etc.
landings. The standard approach and landing VOR frequencies are allocated even tenths of
system installed at airfields around the world is each 0.5 MI-Iz increment, e.g. 109.20 MHz,
the instrument landing system (ILS). The ILS 109.40 MI-Iz, 109 60 MHz etc. Table 12.1
uses a combination of VHF and UHF radio waves provides an illustration of how these frequencies
and has been in operation since 1946. In this are allocated within the 109 MHz range. This
chapter we will look at ILS principles and pattern applies from 108 to 111.95 MHz.
hardware in detail, concluding with how the ILS
combines with the automatic flight control system
(AFCS) to provide fully automatic approach and
landing. Table 12.1 Allocation of ILS and VOR

12.1 ILS overview ILS frequency (MHz) VOR frequency (MHz)

The instiument landing system is used for the 109.00

final approach and is based on directional beams 109.10
propagated from two transmitters at the airfield,
see Figure 12.1. One transmitter (the glide slope) 109.15
provides guidance in the vertical plane and has a 10920
range of approximately 10 nm. The second
transmitter (the localizer) guides the aircraft in
the horizontal plane. In addition to the directional 109.35
beams, two or three marker beacons are located at
key points on the extended runway centreline
defined by the localizer, see Figure 12.4. 109.50
12.2 ILS ground equipment
12.2.1 Localizer transmitter 109.75
The localizer transmits in the VHF frequency 109.80
range, 108112 MHz in 0.5 MHz increments.
Note that this is the same frequency range as used 109.90
by the VOR system (see Chapter 10). Although 109.95
152 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Final approach


(b) Glide slope



(c) Localizer

Figure 12.1 ILS overview

The localizer antenna is located at the far end of Key point

the runway, and transmits two lobes to the left
and right of the runway centreline modulated at The instrument landing system is based on
90 Hz and 150 Hz respectively. On the extended directional beams propagated from two
runway centreline, see Figure 12.2, the combined transmitters at the airfield: localizer and glide
depth of modulation is equal. Either side of the slope.
centreline will produce a difference in depth of
modnlation (DDM); this difference is directly
proportional to the deviation either side of the
extended centreline of the runway. The localizer Test your understanding 12.1
also transmits a two or three letter Morse code
What frequency bands do the localizer and glide
identifier that the crew can hear on their audio slope use?
Instrument landing system 153


(a) Localizer beams (plan view)

(b) Localizer antenna (viewed across the runway end)

(c) Localizer antenna (viewed down the runway)

Figure 12.2 Localizer beams and antenna

12.2.2 Glide slope antenna 12.2.3 Marker beacons

The glide slope antenna transmits in the UHF Two or three beacons are sited on the extended
frequency band, 328.6 to 335 MHz at 150 kHz runway centreline at precise distances; these are
spacing. Upper and lower lobes are modulated at specified in the approach charts for specific
90 HZ and 150 Hz respectively. When viewed runways. These beacons operate at 75 MHz and
from the side, see Figure 12.3, the two lobes radiate approximately 34 W of power. The
overlap and produce an approach path inclined at beacons provide visual and audible cues to the
a fixed angle between 2.5 and 3.5 degrees. Glide crew to confirm their progress on the ILS, see
slope frequency is automatically selected when Figure 12.4, The outer marker is located
the crew tunes the localizer frequency. between four and seven miles from the runway
154 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

\ L\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ I
Glide slope


(a) Glide slope beams (b) Glide slope antenna

Figure 12.3 Glide slope beams and antenna

Inner Middle Outer


3.9 nm

(a) ILS marker beacons

Cyan Yellow White

Outer marker Middle marker Inner marker

(b) Marker beacon indications (primary flying display)

Figure 12.4 ILS marker beacon system

Instrument landing system 155
threshold; it transmits Morse code dashes at a electronic displays) is illuminated. The marker
tone frequency of 400 Hz and illuminates a blue beacon system is currently being phased out with
light (or cyan OM icon for electronic displays) the introduction of DME and OPS approaches.
when the aircraft passes over the beacon.
The outer marker provides the approximate
point at which an aircraft on the localizer will 12.3 ILS airborne equipment
intercept the glide slope. Some airfields use non
directional beacons (NDBs) in conjunction with The aiiborne equipment comprises localizer and
(or in place) of the outer marker. These are glide slope antennas, ILS receiver, marker
referred to as locator beacons (compass locator receiver, and flight deck controls and displays.
in the USA). Most aircraft are fitted with two or three
The middle marker is located approximately independent ILS systems (typically named left,
3500 feet from the runway threshold. When centre and right). The localizer and glide slope
passing over the middle marker, the crew receive frequencies are in different wave bands, the crew
an alternating Morse code of dots/dashes tunes the localizer frequency (via the Nay
modulated at 1300 Hz and a corresponding amber control panel) and this automatically tunes a
light (or yellow MM icon for electronic paired glide slope frequency for a particular
displays) is illuminated. The middle marker runway.
coincides with the aircraft being 200 feet above
the runway touchdown point.
Runways that are used for low visibility 12.3.1 Antennas
approach and landings (see later in this chapter) The typical lLS antenna installation on a transport
have a third inner marker. When passing over aircraft is illustrated in Figure 12.5. In this
the inner marker, the crew receive Morse code installation, two dual channel antennas are used
dots modulated at 3000 Hz on the audio system for localizer and two dual channel antennas for
and a corresponding white light (or TM icon for the glide slope. One channel from each of the

Right and centre glide

slope antennas

Figure 12.5 ILS antennasglide slope and localizer

156 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

antennas is not used; the received signals are fed

to the corresponding ILS receiver. -

12.3.2 Receivers
ILS receivers are often combined with other radio
navigation functions, e.g. VHF omni-range
(VOR); these are located in the avionic
equpment bay, see Figure 12.6. ILS receivers are
based on the super-heterodyne principle with
remote tuning from the control panel. The signal
received from the localizer antenna is modulated
with 90 and 150 Hz tones for left/right deviation;
a 1020 Hz tone contains the navigation aid
identification in Morse code. Filters in the ILS
receiver separate out the 90 and 150 Hz tones for
both localizer and glide slope. The identification
signal is integrated with the audio system.
The marker beacon function is often
incorporated with other radio navigation
receivers, e.g. a combined VOR and marker
beacon unit as illustrated in Figure 12.6(b). The
marker beacon receiver filters out the 75 MHz
tone and sends the signal to an RF amplifier.
Three bandpass filters are then employed at 400
Hz, 1300 Hz and 3000 Hz to identify the specific
marker beacon. The resulting signals are sent to
an audio amplifier and then integrated into the
audio system. Discrete outputs drive the visual (a) ILS receivers
warning lights (or PFD icons).

12.3.3 Controls and displays

A control panel typically located on the centre
pedestal, see Figure 12.7(a), is used to select
the runway heading and ILS frequency.
Alternatively, it can be a combined navigation!
controller and display as shown in Figure 12.7(b).
Outputs from the marker receiver are sent to three
indicator lights (or PFD icons) and the crews
audio system as described in the previous section.
Typical electromechanical displays are
provided by an omni-bearing indicator or course
deviation indicator (CDI), see Figure 12.8(a). The
omni-bearing selector is used to rotate the course
card. This card is calibrated from 0 to 360 and (b) Combined VOR/marker beacon receiver
indicates the selected runway heading. In Figure
12.8(a), a runway heading of 182 has been
selected. Each dot on the scale represents a 2
deviation from the selected runway heading. A Figure 12.6 VHF/navigation receivers
Instrument landing system 157

shown in Figure 12.8(b). The course selector

(lower righthand side of instrument) is set to the
desired runway heading. Figure 12.8(c) illustrates
ILS information on the electronic horizontal
situation indicator (EHSI). The two/three letter
Morse code identifier is sent to the audio system
to allow the crew to confirm their selected ILS

S ~ ~>~0/fl
A pointer moves left/right over a deviation
scale to display lateral guidance information. The
glide slope deviation pointer moves up/down over
a scale to indicate vertical deviation. The strength
of the 90 Hz and 150 Hz tones is summed to
confirm the presence of the localizer and glide
(a) ILS control panel (centre pedestal) slope transmissions; this summed output is
displayed in the form of a flag. If either of the
two transmissions is not present, the warning flag
is displayed.

a Key point

ILS frequencies are selected by tuning the

localizer, which automatically selects the glide

Key point
(b) Navigation and communications unit The marker beacon system is being phased out
and replaced by GPS/DME approaches.
Figure 12.7 ILS control panels

second pointer displays glide slope deviation. Key point

Two flags are used to indicate when the:
The ILS glide slope is inclined at a fixed angle
localizer and/or glide slope signals are between 2.5 and 3.5 degrees from the ground.
beyond reception range
pilot has not selected an ILS frequency
ILS system is turned off, or is inoperative.
Note that this type of indicator can also be used
with the VOR navigation system; refer to Chapter Test your understanding 12.2
10 for a detailed description of this feature. An Where are the localizer and glide slope antennas
updated version of this instrument is the CDI; this located?
has a compass display and course selector as
158 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Omni-bearing indicator (b) Course deviation indicator

Localizer deviation scale

Distance display

Heading display Glide slope

deviation pointer

Selected runway
heading pointer
Glide slope
deviation scale

Aircraft symbol
Localizer deviation

Data source annunciator ILS tuned frequency

(c) Electronic display of ILS

Figure 12.8 ILS displays

Instrument landing aystem 159

12.4 Low range radio altimeter

The low range radio altimeter (LRRA) is a self-
contained vertically directed primary radar
system operating in the 4.2 to 4.4 GHz band.
Airborne equipment comprises a transmitting!
receiving antenna, LRRA transmitter/receiver and
a flight deck indicator. Most aircraft are fitted
with two independent systems. Radar energy is
directed via a transmitting antenna to the ground;
some of this energy is reflected back ftom the
ground and is collected in the receiving antenna,
see Figure 12.9.
Two types of LRRA methods are used to
determine the aircrafts radio altitude. The pulse (a) Low range radio altimeter
modulation method measures the elapsed time
taken for the signal to be transmitted and Decision height
readout tgreen)
received; this time delay is directly proportional
to altitude. The frequency modulated, continuous
wave (FM!CW) method uses a changeable FM
signal where the rate of change is fixed. A
proportion of the transmitted signal is mixed with
the received signal; the resulting beat signal
frequency is proportional to altitude. Radio altitude
Radio altitude is either displayed on a twhite or blank
above 2500 ft.)
dedicated instrument, or incorporated into an
electronic display, see Figure 12.9. Note that
radio altitude used for approach and landing is
only indicated from 2,500 feet. The decision
height is selected during ILS approaches and
(b) Radio altimeter display (electronic

Test your understanding 12.3

What type of radar system is used for the low
range radio altimeter (LRRA)?

Test your understanding 12.4

(a) When flying overhead ILS marker beacons,
what indications are provided to the crew?

(b) What is the preferred sequence to capture the

localizer and glide slope?
(c) Radio altimeter display
(c) What are the decision heights for Category I,
2 and 3 landings?
Figure 12.9 LRRA system
160 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

12.5 ILS approach 12.6 Autoland

The normal procedure is to capture the localizer The development of airborne and ground
first and then the glide slope. The crew select the equipment, together with crew training led to
ILS frequency on the navigation control panel as trials being carried out on the effectiveness and
described above, Runway heading also needs to reliability of fully automatic landings using the
be sent to the ILS receiver; the way of achieving ILS. In 1947, the Blind Landing Experimental
this depends on the avionic fit of the aircraft. Unit (BLEU) was established within the UKs
Desired runway heading can either be selected on Royal Aircraft Establishment. The worlds first
a CDI, or via a remote selector located on a fully automatic landing was achieved in 1950.
separate control panel. Deviation from the Equipment and procedures were further developed
localizer and glide slope is monitored throughout leading to the worlds first automatic landing in a
the approach, together with confirmation of passenger carrying aircraft (the HS121 Trident) in
position from the marker beacons. The ILS can be July 1965.
used to guide the crew on the approach using Automatic approach and landings are
instruments when flying in good visibility. In the categorised by the certi~ing authorities as a
event that visibility is not good, then the approach function of ground equipment, airborne
is flown using the automatic flight control system equipment and crew training. The categories are
(AFCS). The crew select localizer and glide slope quoted in terms of decision height (DH) and
as the respective roll and pitch modes on the runway visual range (RVR). These categories are
AFCS mode control panel (MCP), see Figure summarised in Table 12.1; JAR OPS provides
12.10. With approved ground and airborne further details and notes. Category 3 figures
equipment, qualified crew can continue the depend on aircraft type and airfield equipment,
approach through to an automatic landing. To e.g. quality of ILS signals and runway lighting
complete an automatic landing (autoland) the (centreline, edges, taxi ways etc.).
pitch and roll modes need precise measurement of An operator has to have approval from the
altitude above the ground; this is provided by the regulatory authorities before being permitted to
low range radio altimeter (LRRA). operate their aircraft with automatic Category 2

Figure 12.10 AFCS mode control panel (LOCIGS modes)

instrument landing system 161

Table 12.2 Automatic approach and landing adjacent to the touchdown point on the runway, it
categories departs from the straight-line guidance path
below 100 feet. The approach continues with
Category DH RVR (mm) RVR (max) radio altitude/descent rate being the predominant
control input into the pitch channel. At
I 200 55Cm 1000m approximately 50 feet, the throttles are retarded
2 100 3Com
and the aircraft descent rate and airspeed are
reduced by the flare mode, i.e. a gradual nose-
3A <100 200m
up attitude that is maintained until touchdown.
38 <50 75m The final pitch manoeuvre is to put the nose of
3C None <75 m
the aircraft onto the runway. Lateral guidance is
still provided by the localizer at this point until
such time as the crew take control of the aircraft.
and 3 approach and landings. This applies in
particular to Category 3 decision heights.
Automatic approaches are usually made by first 12.7 Operational aspects of ILS
capturing the localizer (LOC) and then capturing
the glide slope (GS), see Figure 12.11. The ILS remains installed thioughout the world and is
localizer is intercepted from a heading hold mode the basis of automatic approach and landing for
on the automatic flight control system (AFCS), many aircraft types. Limitations of ILS are the
with LOC armed on the system. The active pitch single approach paths from the glide slope and
mode at this point will be altitude hold, with the localizer; this can be a problem for airfields
GS mode armed. located in mountainous regions. Furthermore, any
Once established on the localizer, the glide vehicle or aircraft approaching or crossing the
slope is captured and becomes the active pitch runway can cause a disturbance to the localizer
mode. The approach continues with deviations beam, which could be interpreted by the airborne
from the centreline and glide slope being sensed equipment as an unreliable signal. This often
by the 1LS receiver; these deviations are sent to causes an AFCS channel to disconnect with the
roll and pitch channels of the AFCS, with possibility of a missed approach. The local terrain
sensitivity of pitch and roll modes being modified can also have an effect on ILS performance, e.g.
by radio altitude. The auto throttle controls multipath errors can be caused by reflections of
desired airspeed. Depending on aircraft type, two the localizer; the three-degree glide slope angle
or three AFCS channels will be engaged for fully may not be possible in mountainous regions or in
automatic landings thus providing levels of cities with tall buildings. These limitations led to
redundancy in the event of channel disconnects. the development of the microwave landing
Although the glide slope antenna is located system (MLS); see Chapter 13.

Intercepting the tocalizer

Alt. 1200 ft. the glide slope

Alt, 300 Ii.

Localizer antenna Outer mnrker

Glide slope antenna

Figure 12.11 Automatic approach and landing

162 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

7. The ILS glide slope is inclined at a fixed angle

Key point between:
When the aircraft has touched down with an (a) 2.5 and 3.5 degrees
automatic landing, the ILS continues to provide (b) zero and 2.5 degrees
lateral control via the localizer. (c) 2.5 degrees and above.

8. The glide slope is characterised by two lobes

(a) 90Hz above, 150 Hz below the glide slope
12.8 Multiple choice questions angle
(b) 150 Hz above, 90Hz below the glide slope
Frequency bands for ILS are angle
(a) localizer (UHF) and glide slope (VHF) (c) equally either side of the glide slope angle.
(b) localizer (VHF) and glide slope (VHF)
(c) localizer (VHF) and glide slope (UHF) 9. Marker beacons transmit on which frequency?
(a) 75 MHz
2 Localizei transmitters are located (b) 1300 Hz
(a) at the thieshold of the runway, adjacent to (c) 400 Hz.
the touchdown point
(b) at the stop end of the runway, on the 10. With three marker beacons installed in an ILS
centieline system, they will be encountered along the
(c) at three locations on the extended approach as:
centreline of the iunway (a) outer, middle, inner
(b) inner, middle, outer
3 The LRRA provides (c) outer, inner, middle.
(a) deviation from the runway centreline
(b) deviation from the glide path angle 11. Marker beacon outputs are given by:
(c) altitude in feet above the ground (a) coloured lights and Morse code tones
(b) deviations from the runway centreline
4 Some airfields use NDBs in conjunction with (c) deviations from the glide slope.
(or in place of) the
(a) localizer 12. The decision height and runway visual range
(b) glide slope for a Category 2 automatic approach are:
(c) outei marker (a) 100 ft. and 300 in respectively
(b) 200 ft. and 550 in respectively
5 When viewed from the antenna, the localizer (c) less than 100 ft. and 200 m
is characterised by two lobes modulated respectively.
(a) 90Hz to the iight, 150 Hz to the left of the
centreline 13. The outer marker is displayed on the primary
(b) 150 Hz to the right, 90 Hz to the left of the flying display as a coloured icon that is:
centreline (a) yellow
(c) equally either side of the centreline (b) white
(c) cyan.
6 ILS fiequencies are selected by tuning
(a) the glide slope which automatically selects 14. When the aircraft has touched down with an
the localizer automatic landing, the ILS continues to
(b) the localizer which automatically selects provide:
the glide slope (a) lateral control via the localizer
(c) the localizei and glide slope frequencies (b) lateral control via the glide slope
independently (c) vertical control via the LRRA.
Chapter Microwave landing system

The microwave landing system (MLS) was 13.2 MLS principles

adopted in 1978 as the long-term replacement for
instrument landing systems (ILS). The system is The system is based on the piinciple of time
based on the principle of time referenced referenced scanmng beams and operates in the C-
scanning beams and provides precision band at 5 GHz Two directional fan-shaped
navigation guidance for approach and landing. beams are used for azimuth and elevation
MLS provides three-dimensional approach guidance The azimuth approach transmitter is
guidance, i.e. azimuth, elevation and range. The located at the stop end of the runway, the
system provides multiple approach angles for elevation transmitter is located near the threshold
both azimuth and elevation guidance. Despite the of the runway Azimuth scanning is through 400
advantages of MLS, it has not yet been either side of the runway centreline with a iange
introduced on a worldwide basis for commercial of 20 nm, see Figuie 13 2(a) An expansion
aircraft. Military operators of MLS often use capability can extend azimuth coverage to 60,
mobile equipment that can be deployed within but with a reduced iange of 14 am Elevation
hours. In this chapter, we will review MLS scanning sweeps ovei an angle of 15 degrees
principles and discuss its advantages over the (with 20 degrees as an option) providing
ILS. coverage up to 20,000 feet, see Figure 13 2(b)
At the aircraft receivei, a pulse is detected each
time the respective beams sweep past the aircraft
13.1 MLS overview Consider an airci aft on the approach as illustrated
in Figure 13 3 The (azimuth) time ieferenced
MLS was introduced to overcome a number of scanning beam sweeps from left to right (TO),
problems and limitations associated with ILS. and then retuins from iight to left (FRO) If the
The principle of MLS allows curved, or aircraft is in position A, it is to the left of the
segmented approaches in azimuth together with centreline and will receive a pulse at time interval
selectable glide slope angles. All of these features 1 as the beam sweeps TO, and then at time ~2
are beneficial in mountainous regions, or for when the beam sweeps FRO The two pulses
environmental reasons, e.g. over residential areas are therefore close together with the airciaft to
of a town or city. MLS installations are not the left of centreline If the airciaft were in
affected by ground vehicles or taxiing aircraft position B, i e to the right of the centreline, it
passing through the beam as with the localizer. would ieceive pulses at 3 and 14 due to the
Aircraft making an approach using ILS in low ielative position of the aircraft
visibility have to maintain sufficient separation to The aircraft receivei in a given aircraft will
preserve the integrity of the localizer beams; with interpiet the timing of each pulse, in terms of
MLS, this separation is not required. The when they occurred and the time difference
combination of all these features allows for between each pulse These pulse timings piovide
increased air traffic control flexibility and higher a precise position fix for the aircraft with respect
take-off and landing rates for a given airfield. to the runway centreline Elevation guidance is
Two ground transmitters provide azimuth and calculated in the same way as in azimuth, except
elevation guidance; these scanning beams extend that the beam is scanning up and down Timing
the coverage for an approach compared with the signals are referenced to a selected elevation
ILS, see Figure 13.1. approach angle
164 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


Middle marker
Outer marker


(a) ILS coverage

Back azimuth

+4O~ beam

7 nm

Elevation scan beam



(b) MLS coverage

Figure 13.1 Comparison of ILS/MLS coverage

Key point Key point

MLS was introduced to overcome a number of MLS is based on the principle of time referenced
problems and limitations associated with ILS. The scanning beams; two ground transmitters provide
scanning principle of MLS allows curved, or azimuth and elevation guidance. MLS operates at
segmented approaches in azimuth together with around 5GHz in the C-band.
selectable glide slope angles.

Key point Key point

MLS installations are not affected by ground Locations of the MLS ground equipment are not
vehicles or taxiing aircraft passing through the as critical as with ILS; this is particularly useful in
beam as with the localizer. mountainous regions.
Microwave landing system 165

20 nm
t2 tl
(a) Azimuth scanning
(a) The pulses are close together
on this side of the beam

I p

N 20,000

(b) Elevation scanning

Figure 13.2 MLS azimuth and elevation

scanning (4

(b) The pulses are further apart

on this side of the beam

Key point Figure 13.3 Time referenced MLS scanning

MLS installations are not affected by ground
vehicles or taxiing aircraft passing through the
beam as with the localizer. Test your understanding 13.2
In what frequency band does MLS operate?

Test your understanding 13.1

Explain the principle of operation of the time Test your understanding 13.3
referenced azimuth scanning beam used in the
MLS. What range and altitude does MLS cover?
166 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

13.3 Aircraft equipment Table 13.2 CMA-2000 microwave landing

system leading particulars
The aircraft is fitted with two antennas located on
the nose and aft centrelines. An MLS receiver
(often incorporated into a multi-mode receiver Feature Specification
with ILS, marker beacon and VOR capability) is Range/channels 200 channels in C-band
tuned into one of 200 channels and calculates (5031 to 5090.7 MHz)
azimuth and elevation guidance as described. Control unit weight 6.7 kg
The receiver operates in the frequency range
5031 MHz to 5091 MHz with 300 kI-Iz spacing. CDU weight 1.4 kg
Referring to Figure 13.4 and Table 13.1, the pulse Power supply 115 V AC, 400 Hz,
timing is used to determine the three aircraft 60 VA nominal
positions. Control unit 8086, 128 kbyte EPROM,
An integral part of the MLS is a distance microprocessor 64 kbyte RAM
measuring equipment (DME) system to provide Range Up to 40 nm
range; this can either be a conventional DME
Azimuth range 0 through 360
system as described in Chapter II, or a dedicated
system operating in the 962 MHz to 1105 MHz Elevation range 2 to 29.5 (in increments of
. 0.1)
frequency range. DME frequencies are
automatically tuned with the azimuth and Resolution 0.005
elevation beams to provide range information. Sensitivity 106 dUm
Typical MLS airborne equipment is illustrated
Dynamic range 95 dB
by the CMA-2000 system, Figure 13.5 (data and
image courtesy of CMC Electronics). This system Digital interfaces ARINC 429 and MIL-STD
is installed on a number of military aircraft in the
USA including the C-130 and Air Force One. Analogue interfaces Synchro, DC voltages
Control of the MLS is via a control display unit Navigation aids DME tuning, frequency tuning
(CDU), where the crew selects the desired MLS
channel, together with azimuth and glide path
approach angles. The system meets the
requirements of ARINC 727 and provides three- Test your understanding 13.4
dimensional positional data within a large
airspace volume. How many MLS channels are available?
Azimuth and glide path guidance outputs are
either displayed on a conventional course
deviation indicator (CDI) or incorporated into
multipurpose electronic displays. A summary of
the CMA-2000 microwave landing system Test your understanding 13.5
leading particulars is given in Table 13.2.
What frequency range does MLS use?

Table 13.1 Azimuth angle relationship

Aircraft position TO scan FRO scan Difference Angle (+ is left)

A 6.6 ms 11.5 ms 4.9 ms +20

B 5.7 ms 12.2 ms 6.3 ms 0
C 3.5 ms 14.2 ms 10.6 ms 40
Microwave landing system 167


-0 Fro

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Time (ms) from the start of transmission

Figure 13.4 Relationship between transmissions and position of aircraft

Figure 13.5 MLS airborne equipment (courtesy of CMC electronics)

168 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

13.4 Ground equipment Key point

The items of ground equipment needed for MLS Despite the advantages of MLS, it has not yet
are the azimuth and elevation transmitters and a been introduced on a worldwide basis for
DME navigation aid This basic system can be commercial aircraft. The military use mobile
expanded to provide lateral guidance for missed equipment that can be deployed within hours.
approaches Both azimuth and elevation
transmissions are radiated on the same frequency
with a time-sharing arrangement
In addition to guidance, the MLS also transmits
data to system users Basic data includes runway
Test your understanding 13.6
identification (four-letter Morse code), together Explain why MLS can be advantageous for use in
with locations and performance levels of the mountainous areas or in areas of high population.
azimuth, elevation transmitters and the DME
transponder The expanded data transmission
provides runway conditions and meteorological
data, e g visibility, cloud base, barometiic
Test your understanding 13.7
pressures, wind speed/direction and any wind
shear conditions How does the MLS provide range to the runway?
Locations of the ground equipment are not as
critical as with ILS, this is particularly useful in
mountainous regions Military users of MLS take
advantage of this by have mobile systems that can
be deployed within hours The azimuth Test your understanding 13.8
transmitter has an accuracy of 4 metres at the Why does MLS provide more air traffic control
runway threshold The elevation transmitter has flexibility?
an accuracy of 0 6 metres The dedicated DME
navigation aid has a range accuiacy of 100 feet A
variety of approach patterns is possible with MLS
as illustrated in Figure 13 6
13 6 Multiple choice questions
13.5 MLS summary 1. MLS azimuth and elevation transmitters
operate in which frequency band?
Despite the advantages of MLS, it has not yet (a) 5 GHz
been introduced on a worldwide basis for (b) 962 MHz to 1105 MHz
commercial aircraft The advent and development (c) 108 MHz to 112 MHz.
of global navigation satellite systems (Chapter
19) has led to the reality of precision approaches 2. What are the angular extremes for azimuth
and automatic landings being made under the guidance either side of the runway centreline
guidance of satellite navigation systems during in a basic MLS installation?
low visibility, however, this is not likely to be (a) 60
available for some time Since MLS technology is
already available, a number of European airlines
(c) +15 to +20.
have been lobbying for MLS, ground equipment
has been installed at a number of airports
3. What are the elevation guidance limits for an
including London Heathrow and Toulouse MLS installation?
Blagnac for development purposes The reader is
(a) 60
encouraged to monitor the industry press for
(b) +15 to 20
developments of this subject
(c) 40~
Microwave landing system 169

(a) segmented approach capability

(b) Curved approach capability
Figure 13.6 MLS approach patterns

4. MLS range information is provided by the: 6. How many MLS channels are available:
(a) azimuth transmitter (a) 40
(b) DME navigation aid (b)300
(c) elevation transmitter. (c) 200.

5. Time referenced scanning beams are used in 7. During an MLS approach, deviation in
the MLS to provide: azimuth and elevation is displayed on the:
(a) range to the airfield (a) HSI
(b) azimuth and elevation guidance (b) RMI
(c) altitude above the terrain. (c) CDU.
170 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

8. The elevation approach angle for an approach

is selected by:
(a) air traffic control using the ground
(b) flight crew using the CDU
(c) flight crew using the 1-ISI.

9. With increasing elevation approach angles,

slant range to the airfield will:
(a) increase
(b) decrease
(c) stay the same.

1O.MLS ground equipment identification codes

are provided by: t2 11
(a) two Morse code characters
(b) three Morse code characters Figure 13.7 See Question 11
(c) four Morse code characters.

1 l.Referring to Figure 13.7, pulses t~ and 12 are

(a) range to the runway
(b) elevation guidance
(c) azimuth guidance.

12. Referring to Figure 13.8, the scanning is

providing guidance in:
(a) range
(b) azimuth
(c) elevation.

20 nm

Figure 13.8 See Question 12

Chapter Hyperbolic radio navigation

Hyperbolic radio navigation systems provide
medium to long-range position fix capabilities
and can be used for en route operations over
oceans and unpopulated areas. Several hyperbolic
systems have been developed since the l940s,
including Decca, Omega and Loran. The

operational use of Omega and Decca navigation (a) Baseline between master and secondary station
systems ceased in 1997 and 2000 respectively.
Loran-C systems are still very much available
today as stand-alone en route navigation systems;
they are also being proposed as a complementary
navigation aid for global navigation satellite
systems. The principles of hyperbolic radio
navigation are described in this chapter together
with specific details for Loran-C. The (b) Pulses transmitted from the master station form a concentric pattern
development of enhanced Loran (eLoran) is around the transmitter
discussed at the end of this chapter.

14.1 Hyperbolic position fixing

The principles of hyperbolic position fixing can Secondary Master
station station
be illustrated in Figure 14.1. Two radio stations A
and B are located at a known distance apart; the (c) When the first wave is received at the secondary station a pulse is
transmitted from the secondary station slIer a fixed time delay
imaginary line joining them is referred to as the
baseline, Figure 14.1(a). Station A is the master
and station B is the secondary. The master Figure 14.1 Hyperbolic navigation principles
station transmits pulses at regular intervals; these
pulses, represented by concentric circles in Figure
14.1(b), reach the secondary station after a fixed series of pulses (represented by the solid lines) is
period of time (determined by the propagation radiating from the master station A at a rate of
speed of the radio wave). When the secondary one thousand pulses per second, i.e. at intervals
station receives the master stations first pulse, of 1 ms. The first pulse reaches the secondary
the secondary station transmits its own pulse after station B depending on the distance to the station,
a fixed time delay, as shown in Figure 14.1(c). e.g. after 7 ms. The secondary station transmits
This is a continuous process, with pulses its response after a predetermined delay, e.g. I
transmitted by the master station at fixed ms. This is represented by the dashed circle
intervals, and the secondary station replying after number 8, i.e. it is transmitted after the 7 ms
a fixed delay period. travel time and 1 ms fixed delay. The radiated
The radiated pulses begin to overlap as the pulses from both stations form a pattern of
waves radiate away from their respective stations intersecting pulses. Examine the timing
as illustrated in Figure 14.2. In this illustration, a differences between the intersecting circles on
172 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

lines X, Y and Z. It can be seen that the time

difference between the secondary and master
pulses occurs at:
2 ms anywhere on line X
4 ms anywhere on line Y
6 ms anywhere on line Z. 0
The intersection of two pulses with the same time
delay anywhere on this pattern can be used to

determine a line of position (LOP). These points
can be plotted to form unique curves known as
hyperbolae. The foci of the hyperbolae are at each
of the transmitters. Each hyperbola provides a
LOP related to the time delay between receiving

master and secondary pulses. Since there are two
positions on any given hyperbola, a third (or
fourth) secondary station will provide a unique
position fix as illustrated in Figure 14.3. In this
case, the three hyperbolae generated by stations Figure 14.3 Using three stations to define a
A, B and C only intersect in one place. unique position fix

Figure 14.2 Lines of position (this example illustrates a 7 ms travel time from A to B, with a
1 ms time delay at transmitter B)
Hyperbolic radio navigation 173

14.2 Loran overview 14.3 Loran-C operation

Loran is an acronym for long range navigation, a Loran-C chains are organised in a master and
system based on hyperbolic radio navigation. The secondary configuration. Each master has at least
system was developed during the 1940s as Loran- two associated secondary stations; in some cases
A and has undergone many developments; the there are five secondary stations in the chain. The
current version is Loran-C. Operating in the LF elapsed time between receiving pulses from the
frequency range of 90110 kHz, the system master station and two or more secondary stations
comprises ground transmitters and monitoring is used to determine a unique position. Pulses are
stations. The Loran-C system has a typical range formed as variable amplitude sine waves with a
of up to 1000 nrn and an accuracy of better than fixed frequency; the pulse duration is 270 ms
0.25 nm (460 metres) in the defined coverage representing 27 cycles of the 100 kHz carrier
areas. Transmitters are grouped together in wave as illustrated in Figure 14.5. This unique
chains thus providing a two-dimensional pulse provides a recognisable signal and ensures
position fixing capability. The patterns are that the majority of the pulses bandwidth is
formed in various ways by master and confined to the frequency range of 90110 kHz.
secondary stations as illustrated in Figure 14.4. The intention for a Loran-C system is to only
use ground waves for navigation purposes; sky
waves are filtered out with pulse timing
techniques. The approximate time taken for a
transmitted wave to reflect off the ionosphere is
30 ms; since the pulse duration is 270 ms some of
the transmitted pulse can be expected to be
reflected from the ionosphere. To avoid this, a
specific peak within the pulse is selected as the
indexing pulse. This is the third peak within the
pulse, and represents approximately 50% of the
maximum amplitude.
Signals are transmitted from the master station
as a group of nine pulses; secondary stations
transmit eight pulses, see Figure 14.6. Groups of
pulses from each of the chains are transmitted
within the range of 1025 groups per second.
Each pulse is spaced at 1 ms intervals, the ninth
pulse from the master station occurs after a 2 ms
delay. The specific timing interval of the group of
pulses (starting and finishing with the master
pulses) is referred to as the group repetition
interval, or GRI. This time interval is used as the

3 cycles
30 p5

Figure 14.4 Loran-C maater/secondary

stations forming chains Figure 14.5 Loran-C pulse format
174 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Master secondary A Secondary B Master

9 pulses 8 pulses 8 pulses 9 pulses

>5600ps >9200~,s [4 >5600 Values for stations

600 nm apart
1 1
to sea.

Figure 14.6 Loran-C pulse transmission format

basis of identifying the chain, e.g. a chain with

GRI of 99,600 microseconds is identified as Key point
The Loran-C system uses ground waves at low
The first group of nine pulses from the master frequencies. It has a typical range of up to 1000
station is received at different times by each of nm with an accuracy of 0.25 nm. Transmitters are
the secondary stations due to the varying baseline grouped together in chains thus providing a two-
distances between respective stations. The dimensional position fixing capability.
secondary stations transmit their pulse groups
after predetermined time delays, referred to as the
coding delay. The total time for the pulse to
travel over the baseline together with the
secondary stations coding delay is called the
emission delay. Key point
Operational aspects associated with Loran-C
include: Loran-C chains all transmit at 100 kHz, i.e. there
is no need to tune the receiver to a specific
Electromagnetic interference affecting the chain.
signal, e.g. from pover lines
Loss of one station affects the area of
Local weather conditions (particularly
electrical storms) affecting the signal. Key point
In addition to master and secondary stations,
monitoring stations are deployed to sample the The elapsed time between receiving pulses
chains signal strength, timing and pulse shape. from the master station and two or more
secondary stations is used to determine a unique
In the event that any of these are outside a
specified limit an alert signal, known as a blink,
is coded into the pulse groupings.

Key point Key point

Loran is an acronym for long range navigation, The operational use of Omega and Decca
a system based on hyperbolic radio navigation. hyperbolic navigation systems ceased in 1997
and 2000 respectively.
Hyperbolic radio navigation 175

14 4 Loran-C ground equipment Table 14.1 Loran-C chains (source USCG)

Master and secondary transmitting stations are Chain
Master location; number of secondasy
located at strategic places to provide the required stations
geometry for obtaining navigation information. Canadian East coast caribou, Maine; three secondary
Transmitter towers are typically 700-1300 feet stations
high and radiate between 400 and 1600 W of canadian West Coast Williams Lake; three secondary stations
power. The master and secondary stations are
great Lakes USA Dana, Indiana; four secondary stations
formed in groups known as chains as discussed
earlier. Baseline distances vary from chain to Gulf of Alaska Tok, Alaska; three secondary stations
chain since many stations are located on islands Icelandic sea Sandur, Iceland; two secondary stations
to provide oceanic coverage; distances of between Labrador Sea Fox Harbor, Canada; two secondary
175 and 1000 nm are typical. The majority of stations
these chains are in the USA and Canada; other
Mediterranean Sea Sellia Marina, Italy; three secondary
chains are located in Russia, the northern Pacific, stations
Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The master
North Central USA Havre, Montana; three secondary
stations are identified as M and the secondary stations
stations are identified from the series W, X, Y
and Z. The US Coast Guard (USCG) provides North Pacific St Paul, Alaska; three secondary
full details of each chain, together with an on-line
handbook containing very useflul data and Northeast USA Seneca, New York; four secondary
information relating to Loran; details can be
found on their website The Northwest Pacific Iwo Jima, Japan; four secondary
USCG introduced Loran-C into Europe, the stations
system was transferred to the host nations in Norwegian Sea Eide, Denmark; four secondary stations
1995. South Central USA Boise City, Oklahoma; ~ve secondary
Table 14.1 provides a list of currently available stations
Loran-C chains, together with a summary of how Southeast USA Malone, Florida; four secondary stations
many secondary stations are associated with the
master. Table 14.2 provides details for the West Coast USA Fallon, Nevada; three secondary
Northwest Pacific chain; this comprises stations stations
on the Japanese mainland and a number of islands
in the Pacific. Figure 14.7 gives an illustration of
the area of coverage for this chain.
Table 14,2 Details of the Northwest Pacific
In previous chapters, radio navigation systems
chain (source USCG)
including VOR, DME and VORTAC have been
Master station (M) Iwo Jima, Japan
described. Note that since VOR, DME and
VORTAC navigation aids have to be located on Secondary station (W) Marcus Island, Japan
land, the airways network does not provide a Secondary station (X) Hokkaido, Japan
great deal of coverage beyond coastal regions.
Secondary station (Y) Gesashi, Japan
Referring to Figure 14.9(a), a combination of
VOR, DME and TACAN stations located in a Secondary station (Z) Barrigada, Japan
number of European countries provides a certain
amount of navigation guidance in the North
Atlantic, Norwegian Sea and North Sea. This located at Ejde (Denmark); four secondary
diagram assumes a line-of-sight range of stations (X, W, Y and Z) located in Bo
approximately 200 nm. The gaps in this radio (Norway), Sylt (Germany), Sandur (Iceland)
navigation network can be largely overcome by and Jan Mayen (Norway) respectively. Note
the use of Loran-C, see Figure 14.9(b). This is the that this illustrates the estimated ground
Norwegian Sea chain, with the master station coverage, actual coverage will vary.
176 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1200 E a addition to this, the receiver also has to be able

to reject a large amount of interference and
atmospheric noise.
Estimated area of A navigation computing function can provide
ground wave coverage enhanced operation for the system. Chain details
such as latitude and longitude of stations, GRI
and secondary delay times are all stored in a
database. Corrections can be applied for known
3O0 N
propagation differences over sea, land, and ice. If
o w the receiver is receiving pulses from more than
one chain, it is possible to calculate an average
position. A typical control display unit used for
hyperbolic navigation is shown in Figure 14.8



ri two Jima, Japan

W Marcus Island, Japan
X HoRkaido, Japan
Y Gesashi, Japan
Z Barrigada, Guam

Figure 14.7 Northwest Pacific chain

(courtesy USCG)

14.5 Loran-C airborne equipment

Airborne equipment comprises the antenna,
receiver and control display unit. The antenna is
often shared with the ADF sense loop. Loran-C
chains all transmit at 100 kHz, i.e. there is no
need to tune the receiver to a specific chain.
The receiver searches for master stations and
tracks secondary signals; this is achieved with a
phase locked loop process. Since all chains
transmit at 100 kHz, an aircraft in range of more Figure 14.8 Typical control display unit
than one chain will receive pulses from many
stations; the receiver has to be able to identify
specific chains by their emission delays. Once Test your understanding 14.1
identified, the receiver determines which chain is
providing the strongest signals, and which is What frequency range does Loran-C use?
providing the best navigation solution. Accurate
timing signals are used to recognise the unique
Loran-C pulse shape. Once acquired, the receiver
needs to identify the third peak in the pulse; this Test your understanding 14.2
peak has the highest rate of change with respect
to the eighth pulse. Identification of the third peak What does GRI mean, and how does this define a
is determined by measuring the zero crossings Loran-C chain?
and amplitude growth within the pulse. In
Hyperbolic radio navigation 177
20W O~W 20E 4O~E
systems (GNSS) will, in theory, make the use of
Loran-C unattractive, and eventually become
obsolete. There were plans to decommission the
system due to the emerging use and attractions of
GNSS. In reality however, this situation is being
Referring to Chapter 18, it is clear that any
GNSS is vulnerable to disruption; this can be
either a deliberate attempt to interfere with the
transmissions, satellite failure or because of
adverse atmospheric conditions. With increased
dependence on GNSS for aviation, marine,
vehicle and location-based services, the impact of
any disruption is significant. The solution to this
is to have an alternative navigation system
(a) VORDME coverage working alongside GNSS as a backup, e.g. VOR,
DME, inertial navigation (described elsewhere in
the book) or Loran.
The next development from Loran-C is
enhanced Loran (eLoran) which will take
advantage of new and emerging technology.
Enhanced Loran introduces an additional data
channel via the Loran transmission; this data
includes up to sixteen message types including
(but not limited to) station identity, coordinated
universal time (UTC), corrections, warnings, and
signal integrity information. This data channel is
achieved via pulse-position modulation. The new
pulse is added to the Loran transmission one
millisecond after the eighth pulse on a secondary
50N transmitting station, and between the current
eighth and ninth pulses on a master transmitting
station. Testing of the Loran data channel (LDC)
(b) Loran-C coverage by the FAA and US Coast Guard began in July of
The eLoran system comprises the transmitting
Figure 14.9 Comparison of VORDME and station, monitoring sites, and control monitor
Loran-C coverage in a coastal area station; this is a self-correcting system as
illustrated in Figure 14.10.
Using a technique called time of transmission
control, timing is held constant at each
14.6 Enhanced Loran (eLoran) transmitting station rather than in the monitoring
sites. The eLoran receiver acquires, tracks and
Loran-C has several advantages over the two manages stations as if they were satellites,
other (now obsolete) hyperbolic navigation thereby providing reliable timing measurements
systems, Decca and Omega; these advantages leading to accurate position calculations. This
include the use of ground waves at low radio concept increases coverage since multiple stations
frequencies and pulse techniques to discriminate from any chain can be selected by the receiver,
against sky wave inference. provided that they are within range. This feature
The introduction of global navigation satellite (known as all-in-view) treats each Loran
178 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Transmitting station Test your understanding 14.4

(1) Broadcasts own signals
t Loran-C systems can share their aircraft antennas
with which other navigation system?
Monitoring site
(1) Receives signals and applies corrections
Control monitor station
(1) Validates and stores corrections
14.7 Multiple choice questions
(2) sends corrections to appropriate transmitting station
t 1. Long-range radio navigation systems rely on
Transmitting station what type of radio wave?
(I) Validates incoming signals from control monitor station (a) Ground wave
(2) Formats signals and transmits on data channel (b) Sky wave
(c) Space wave.

Figure 14.10 Self-correcting system used in 2. How many transmitting stations are required
eLoran in a hyperbolic navigation system to provide a
unique position?
(a) One
transmitter as an individual, i.e. it does not relate (b) Two
that station to a specific chain. (c) Three or more.
A combined GNSS/eLoran receiver offers a
powerful solution to the problem of GNSS 3. How many unique locations are defined on a
vulnerability. The use of eLoran will complement hyperbolic line of position?
global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), it will (a) One
also provide a backup with integrity maintained (b) Two
via eLorans independence and dissimilar method (c) None.
of navigation.
The expected accuracy of eLoran is better than 4. The foci of hyperbolae are located at:
10 metres compared to a Loran-C accuracy of 460 (a) each of the transmitters
metres (0.25 nm). The reader is encouraged to (b) the intersection of lines of position
read the industry press and monitor developments (c) the intersection of concentric circles.
of this subject.
5. The intersection of two Loran-C pulses with
same time delay can be used to determine a:
(a) line of position
(b) baseline
Key point (c) unique position.
In addition to master and secondary stations,
monitoring stations are deployed to sample the 6. Loran-C operates in which frequency band?
chains signal strength, timing and pulse shape. (a) 1901750kHz
(b) 90110 kHz
(c) 108112 MHz.

7. How many pulses does the master station in a

Test your understanding 14.3 Loran-C chain transmit?
(a) 27
How many unique lateral geographical positions (b) 8
can two hyperbolic navigation stations define? (c)9.
Chapter Doppler navigation

Doppler navigation is a self-contained dead observer, the number of cycles received by the
reckoning system, i.e. it requires no external observer is the fixed tone, plus the additional
inputs or references from ground stations. Ground cycles received as a function of the trains speed.
speed and drift can be determined using a This will have the effect of increasing the tone
fundamental scientific principle called Doppler (above the fixed frequency) as heard by the
shift. Doppler navigation systems were developed observer. At the instant when the train is adjacent
in the mid-l940s and introduced in the mid-l950s to the observer, the true fixed-frequency will be
as a primary navigation system with many heard. When the train travels away from the
features including continuous calculations of observer, fewer cycles per second will be
ground speed and drift. Being self-contained, the received and the tone will be below the fixed-
system can be used for long distance navigation frequency as heard by the observer. The
over oceans and undeveloped areas of the globe. difference in tone is known as the Doppler shift;
Doppler navigation sensors are often integrated this principle is used in Doppler navigation
with other aircraft navigation systems. systems. Doppler shift is, for practical purposes,
Alternatively, Doppler sensors are used in other directly proportional to the relative speed of
specialised airborne applications, including movement between the source and observer. The
weather radar and missile warning systems. relationship between the difference in frequencies
Enhanced VOR ground installations also and velocity can be expressed as:
incorporate Doppler principles. In this chapter,
we will review some basic scientific principles, vf
look at Doppler navigation as a stand-alone
system, and then review some of the other
Doppler applications. where FD= frequency difference, v =aircraft
velocity, f= frequency of transmission, and C =
speed of electromagnetic propagation (3 x i08
15.1 The Doppler effect metres/second).

The Doppler effect is named after Christian

Doppler (18031853), an Austrian mathematician 15.2 Doppler navigation principles
and physicist. His hypothesis was that the
frequency of a wave apparently changes as its Doppler navigation systems in aircraft have a
source moves closer to, or further away from, an focused beam of electromagnetic energy
observer. This principle was initially proven to transmitted ahead of the aircraft at a fixed angle
occur with sound; it was subsequently found to (theta, O~ as shown in Figure 15.2. This beam is
occur with any wave type including scattered in all directions when it arrives at the
electromagnetic energy. An excellent example of surface of the earth. Some of the energy is
the Doppler effect can be observed when fast received back at the aircraft. By measuring the
trains (or racing cars) pass by an observer. difference in frequency between the transmitted
To illustrate this principle, consider Figure and received signals, the aircrafts ground speed
15.1, an observer located at a certain distance can be calculated. The signal-to-noise ratio of the
from a sound source that is emitting a fixed- received signal is a function of a number of
frequency tone. As the train approaches the factors including:
180 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Aircraft range to the terrain

Backscattering features of the terrain
Atmospheric conditions, i.e. attenuation
and absorption of radar energy
Radar equipment.
Observer Note that the aircraft in Figure 15.2 is flying
(a) Train moving towards the observer (more cycles in a given lime straight and level. If the aircraft were pitched up
therefore the observer perceives a higher pitch)
or down, this would change the angle of the beam
with respect to the aircraft and the surface; this
will change the value of Doppler shift for a given
ground speed. This situation can be overcome in
a., one of two ways; the transmitter and receiver can
1L!~ be mounted on a stabilised platform or (more
usually) two beams can be transmitted from the
aircraft (forward and aft) as shown in Figure 15.3.
By comparing the Doppler shift of both beams, a
true value of ground speed can be derived. The
(b) Train nearest lo the observer (observer perceives the exact pitch) relationship between the difference in frequencies
and velocity in an aircraft can be expressed as:

1om~m IIc~rs
where F0 frequency difference, 6 = the angle
between the beam and aircraft, v = aircraft
velocity, f frequency of transmission, and c

Observer speed of electromagnetic propagation (3 x 108

(c) Train moving away from lhe observer (less cycles in a given metres/second).
lime therefore the observer perceives a lower pitch)
Note that a factor of two is needed in the
expression since both the transmitter and receiver
Figure 15.1 The Doppler effect are moving with respect to the earths surface. It
can be seen from this expression that aircraft
altitude is not a factor in the basic Doppler
calculation. Modern Doppler systems (such as the
CMC Electronics fifth generation system) operate
up to 15,000 feet (rotary wing) and 50,000 feet
(fixed wing).
Having measured velocity along the track of
the aircraft, we now need to calculate drift. This
can be achieved by directing a beam at right
angles to the direction of travel, see Figure 15.4.
Calculation of drift is achieved by utilising the
It) Seam scallered by
(a) eeam xansmilled ahead
same principles as described above. In practical
ground reSection installations, several directional beams are used,
see Figure 15.5.
The calculation of ground speed and drift
provides raw navigation information. By
combining these two values with directional
Figure 15.2 Doppler navigation principles information from a gyro-magnetic compass
Doppler navigation 181

system, we have the basis of a complete self-

contained navigation system. By integrating the
velocity calculations, the system can derive the
distance travelled (along track) and cross track
deviations. The Doppler system has a resolution
of approximately 2030 Hz (frequency
difference) per knot of speed. Note that, in
addition to ground speed and drift information,
Doppler velocity sensors can also detect vertical
displacement from a given point. Errors
accumulate as a function of distance travelled;
typical Doppler navigation system accuracy can
be expressed in knots (V,) as follows (data
courtesy of CMC Electronics):
Figure 15.3 Compensation for aircraft pitch
angle = +

The individual components of velocity along the

x, y and z axes (ground speed, drift and vertical
components) have accuracies given in Table 15.1
for both sea (Beaufort scale of 1) and land
When flying over oceans, the Doppler system
will calculate velocities that include movement of
Return Iron the sea due to tidal effects, i.e. not a true
groued scatter
calculation of speed over the earths surface.
These short-term errors will be averaged out over
time. Doppler sensors are ideally suited for rotary
With no drift, the reflected return Iron ground scatter has no Doppler shift
wing aircraft that need to hover over an object in
the sea, e.g. during search and rescue operations,
see Figure 15.6. The surface features of water are
Figure 15.4 Measuring drift by Doppler shift critical to the received backscatter; this must be
taken into account in the system specification.
The worst case conditions for signal to noise
ratios are with smooth sea conditions; to illustrate
this point consider the two reflecting surfaces
illustrated in Figure 15.7. (Note that the reflecting
surface of water would never actually be optically
perfect, but smooth surface conditions do reduce
the amount of scatter.) When hovering over water
in search and rescue operations, Doppler systems

Table 15.1 Doppler navigation syatem

component accuracy
Component Land Sea
V~ 0.3% V, + 0.2 knots 0.25% V, + 0.2 knots
Figure 15.5 Measuring ground speed and V~ 0.3% V, + 0.2 knots 0.25% V1 + 0.2 knots
drift using directional beams V. 0.2% V1 + 0.2 1pm 0.20% + 0.2 fpm
182 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

have the distinct advantage of being able to track

a vessel as it drifts with the tide. This reduces
pilot workload, particularly if the Doppler system
is coupled to an automatic control system.
Doppler system specifications for navigation
accuracy are often expressed with reference to
the Beaufort scale; this scale has a range of
between 1 and 12. A sea state of I on the
Beaufort scale is defined by a wind of between 1
and 3 knots with the surface of the water having
ripples, but no foam crests. (a) Diffuse surface conditions

Key point
Christian Dopplers hypothesis was that the
frequency of a wave apparently changes as its
source moves closer to, or farther away from, an

(b) smooth surface conditions

Figure 15.7 Surface reflections

Key point
Doppler sensors are ideally suited for rotary wing
aircraft that need to hover over an object in the
Tide sea, e.g. during search and rescue operations.
(a) Aircraft tracks object using Iorward~aft beams

Test your understanding 15.1

What value of Doppler shift along the aircraft track
would be measured if the radar beam were
transmitted vertically down from the aircraft?

Test your understanding 15.2

.0 Tide
What effect does increasing the frequency of a
tb) Aircraft tracks object using lateral beams transmitted Doppler beam have on sensitivity of
the frequency shift?
Figure 15.6 Using Doppler during hover
Doppler navigation 183

15.3 Airborne equipment overview

Doppler navigation systems use directional beams
to derive ground speed and drift as previously
described; these beams are arranged in a number
of ways as illustrated in Figure 15.8. The fore
and aft beams are referred to as a Janus
configuration (after the Roman god of openings
and beginnings, Janus, who could face in two
directions at the same time).
Three beams can be arranged in the form of the
Greek letter lambda (X). The four-beam (a) Four beam Janus x (b) Three beam Janus A
arrangement is an X configuration; only three
beams are actually required, the fourth provides a
level of monitoring and redundancy. In the four-
beam arrangement, the fore and aft signals are
transmitted in alternative pairs.
Referring to the relationship:
it can be seen that the sensitivity of Doppler
velocity calculations increases with the
transmitted frequency; this means that a smaller
antenna can be used. (c) Three beam Janus T (SI) Two beam nonJanus

The frequencies allocated to Doppler

navigation systems are within the SHF range, Figure 15.8 Doppler beam arrangements
specifically 13.2513.4 GHz; some Doppler
systems operate within the 8.758.85 GHz range.

Test your understanding 15.3

How does a Doppler navigation system derive
Key point aircraft heading?

By measuring the difference in frequency between

the transmitted and received signals, the aircrafts
velocity in three axes can be calculated using the
Doppler shift principle. Test your understanding 15.4
What is the reason for having more than one
Doppler beam transmission, e.g. the lambda
Key point
Doppler navigation systems are self-contained;
they do not require any inputs from ground
navigation aids. The system needs an accurate Test your understanding 15.5
on-board directional input, e.g. from a
gyrocompass. What effect does the sea state have on the back
scattering of a Doppler beam?
184 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

The basic Doppler system comprises an antenna,

transmitter and receiver. The antenna can be
fixed to the airframe thereby needing corrections
for pitch attitude (achieved via the Janus
configuration). Alternatively the antenna could
be slaved to the aircrafts attitude reference
system. The antenna produces a very narrow
conical- or pencil-shaped beam.
The Doppler navigation system has been
superseded for commercial airline use by inertial
and satellite navigation systems. Rotary wing
aircraft, however, use Doppler sensors to provide
automatic approach and stabilisation during
hover manoeuvres; in this case the display would
provide vertical displacement above/below the
selected hover altitude and lateral/longitudinal
deviation from the selected hover position.

154 Typical Doppler installations

Doppler principles can either be used in self-
contained navigation systems, or as stand-alone
velocity sensors. An early (1970s) version of a
control display panel used on the MR1 Nimrod
aircraft is illustrated in Figure 15.9. The stand Figure 15.9 Doppler control display unit
alone velocity sensor is in the form of a radar (1970s technology)
transmitterreceiver as illustrated in Figure 15.10,
item 1. This sensor has a resolution of less than aggressive for certain helicopter operations.
0.1 knots and can be interfaced with other avionic Changes of up to 60 degrees per second can be
systems and displays using data bus techniques. accommodated for pitch and roll excursions; the
With increasing digital processing capability, the system can accommodate rate changes of up to
Doppler velocity sensor can be integrated with 100 degrees per second in azimuth.
other navigation sensors to provide filtered
navigation calculations. This subject is addressed
in Chapter 16.
Typical self-contained Doppler navigation 15.5 Doppler summary
systems comprise the radar transmitterreceiver,
signal processor, control display unit and steering In summary, Doppler navigation has a number of
indicator, as illustrated in Figure 15.10 (pictures advantages:
and data courtesy of CMC Electronics). This
Velocity and position outputs from the
navigation system transmits at 13.325 0Hz using
system are provided on a continuous basis
frequency modulation/continuous wave signals at
It requires no ground navigation aids, i.e. it
a low radiated power of 20 mW.
is self-contained and autonomous
Digital signal processing is used for continuous
o Velocity outputs are very accurate
spectrum analysis of signal returns; this leads to
enhanced tracking precision accuracy and Navigation is possible over any part of the
optimises signal acquisition over marginal terrain globe, including oceans and polar regions
conditions (sand, snow and calm sea conditions). The system is largely unaffected by weather
Doppler systems compensate for attitude changes (although certain rainfall conditions can
as described earlier; these manoeuvres can be affect the radar retums)
Doppler navigation 185

Signal processor

Radar transmitter-receiver

Steering indicator Control and display unit

Figure 15.10 Doppler system (photo courtesy of CMC Electronics)

The system does not require any preflight 15.6 Other Doppler applications
The disadvantages of Doppler navigation are: In addition to self-contained navigation, the
Doppler shift principle is also employed in
o It is dependent upon a directional reference, several other aerospace systems. Missile warning
e.g. a gyro-magnetic compass systems and military radar applications include
It requires a vertical reference to pulse-Doppler radar target acquisition and
compensate for aircraft attitude tracking; the Doppler principle is employed to
Position calculations degrade with distance reduce clutter from ground returns and
travelled atmospheric conditions.
o Short-term velocity calculations can be In Chapter 1 0 reference was made to siting
inaccurate, e.g. when flying over the tidal errors of conventional VOR ground stations.
waters, the calculated aircraft velocity will Many VOR stations now employ the Doppler
be in error depending on the tides direction principle to overcome these errors; these are
and speed. (This effect will average out over referred to as Doppler VOR (DVOR) navigation
longer distances, and can actually be used to aids; more details are provided in Chapter 10.
an advantage for rotary wing aircraft) Enhanced weather radar systems for commercial
o Military users have to be aware that the aircraft have the additional ffinctionality of being
radar transmission is effectively giving able to detect turbulence and predict wind shear
away the location of the aircraft. (see Chapter 20).
186 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

6. The backscattering features of the terrain

Key point affect the Doppler navigation systems:
Doppler navigation system accuracy can be (a) accuracy
expressed in knots; errors accumulate as a (b) signal to noise ratio
function of distance travelled. (c) coverage.

7. Integrating Doppler ground speed calculations

will provide:
(a) distance travelled
Test your understanding 15.5 (b) drift angle
(c) directional information.
When crossing over a coastal area, from land
towards the sea, what effect will tidal flow have on 8. Drift can be measured by directing a beam:
the Doppler systems calculated ground speed (a) at right angles to the direction of travel
and drift? (b) in line with the direction of travel
(c) directly below the aircraft.

9. Doppler position calculations degrade with:

15.7 Multiple choice questions (a) time
(b) attitude changes
Doppler navigation systems operate in which (c) distance travelled.
frequency range?
(a) SHF 10. When hovering directly over an object in the
(b)VHF sea with a six-knot tide, the Doppler system
(c) UHF. will indicate:
(a) six knots drift in the opposite direction of
2. When moving towards a sound source, what the tide
effect will Doppler shift have on the pitch of (b) six knots drift in the direction of the tide
the sound as heard by an observer? (c) zero drift.
(a) No effect
(b) Increased pitch II. When hovering over water, the worst case
(c) Decreased pitch. conditions for signal to noise ratios are with:
(a) smooth sea conditions
3. What effect does increasing the frequency of a (b) rough sea conditions
transmitted Doppler beam have on sensitivity (c) tidal drift.
of the frequency shift?
(a) Decreased 12. Doppler system beams in the lambda
(b)No effect arrangement have beams directed in the
(c) Increased. following way:
(a) forward and to each side of the aircraft
4. Raw Doppler calculations include: (b) forward, aft and to one side of the aircraft
(a) pitch and roll (c) forward, aft and to each side of the
(b) directional information aircraft.
(c) ground speed and drift,
13. Backscattering of a Doppler beam from the
5. Velocity and position outputs from a Doppler surface of water is:
navigation system are provided: (a) low from a rough surface
(a) only when the aircraft is moving (b) low from a smooth surface
(b) on a continuous basis (c) high from a smooth surface.
(c) only in straight and level flight.
Chapter Area navigation 14/01/2017

Area navigation (RNAV) is means of combining, described in earlier chapters of this book.
or filtering, inputs from one or more navigation Conventional airways are defined by VOR and
sensors and defining positions that are not DME navigation aids, see Figure 16.3.
necessarily co-located with ground-based Since the VORDME systems are line of
navigation aids. This facilitates aircraft navigation sight, the altitude of the aircraft will have a direct
along any desired flight path within range of relationship with the range that the system can be
navigation aids; alternatively, a flight path can be used, see Figure 16.4. Using VORDME
planned with autonomous navigation equipment. navigation aids imposes a limit on the working
Optimum area navigation is achieved using a range that can be obtained. The maximum line-
combination of ground navigation aids and of-sight (LOS) distance between an aircraft and
autonomous navigation equipment. the ground station is given by the relationship:
Typical navigation sensor inputs to an RNAV
system can be from external ground-based d = l.1~J~
navigation aids such as VHF omni-range (VOR)
and distance measuring equipment (DME); where d is the distance in nautical miles, and h is
autonomous systems include global satellite the altitude in feet above ground level (assumed
navigation or inertial reference system (IRS). to be flat terrain). The theoretical LOS range for
Many RNAV systems use a combination of altitudes up to 20,000 feet is given in Table 16.1.
numerous ground-based navigation aids, satellite At higher altitudes, it is possible to receive VOR
navigation systems and self-contained navigation signals at greater distances but with reduced
systems. In this chapter, we will focus on area signal integrity. Although the actual range also
navigation systems that use VOR and DME depends on transmitter power and receiver
navigation aids to establish the basic principles of sensitivity, the above relationship provides a
RNAV. The chapter concludes with a review good approximation.
of Kalman filters and how RNAV systems The positions defined in an RNAV system are
are specified with a required navigation called waypoints; these are geographical
performance (RNP). positions that can be created in a number of
ways. RNAV systems can store many waypoints
in a sequence that comprises a complete route
16.1 RNAV overview
Two basic ground navigation aids that can be
used for RNAV are VOR and DME; see Figures Table 16.1 Theoretical LOS range
16.1 and 16.2. RNAV is a guidance system that
uses various inputs, e.g. VOR and/or DME to Altitude (feet) Range (nm)
compute a position. The VOR system transmits
specific bearing information, referred to as 100 10
radials, see Figure 16.1. The pilot can select any
1,000 32
radial from a given VOR navigation aid and fly to
or from that aid. 5,000 70
Distance measuring equipment (DME) is a
10,000 100
short-/medium-range navigation system based on
secondary radar. Both VOR and DME are 20,000 141
188 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

90* of RF beam

VOR ground station

VHF transmitter
Rotating RF beam
Referenced to magnetic North

(a) VHF omni-range (VOR) overview


Ground station
~ ~~Aiutuae t
~pproximate rang p

(b) VHF omni-rangeline of sight

Figure 16.1 VOR principles


(a) Secondary radar used for DM8 (b) DM8 transponder (right of photo)

Figure 16.2 DM8 principles

Area navigation 189

f1/ VORIDME navigation aid von navigation aid

Distance calculated by DME

-~-~-~-~e Radiat from von navigation aid

Figure 16.3(a) Aircraft flying along a conventional airway

T1?4O/CK~ 2~ I

~; 1~OI14%/Q04flwt

O RU SS 110/CU B

;; ,,~
J~ 10cm


018 [p4/ \ FE
4 ~J9o4

I /\7>%-~
/ fr&2~
11755/C IflI

/0045 01 GILcIl
ADUlOt. .~3 -Vby 22

ovoR NDB .._. Route designator

Magnetic track
18.5 .K~)z~r~~4O


~ aN

Upper limit

Lower timit

A compulsory
reporting point
Aerodrome~airport symbols
SO OtttI/5050
vonTAc On.request
reporting point civil civillmititary Military

Figure 16.3(b) A typical airways chart

190 Aircraft communications and navigation systems
craft /

Ground slation
Waypoint created by A
inturseclion of VOR rndials
VOR.A (045) VOR-B
~Zurang~C VOR-B (285)

(a) Line of sight versus altitude


Figure 16.5(a) Creating a waypoint (VOR


Waypoint created by VOR

radial (060) and DM6
Hodasatsi tans.. distance (25 nm)

(b) DME slant range 9


Figure 16.4 Line of sight and slant range

Figure 16.5(b) Creating a waypoint (VOR
from origin to destination. Creating waypoints DME)
that are not co-located with fixed ground aids
RNAV leg
provides a very flexible and efficient approach to
flight planning. These waypoints are stored in a
navigation database (NDB) as permanent
records or entered by the pilot. Waypoints can be
referenced to a fixed position derived from VOR Waypoint I Waypoint 2
and/or DME navigation aids, see Figure 16.5. The
desired track between waypoints (Figure 16.6) is Figure 16.6 Creating an RNAV leg
referred to as an RNAV leg. Each leg will have a
defined direction and distance; a number of legs
in sequence becomes the route. The advent of
digital computers has facilitated comprehensive Flying parallel tracks, i.e. with a specified
area navigation systems that use a combination of cross track distance (Figure 16.7c). This
ground navigation aids and airborne equipment. provides greater utilisation of airspace,
The features and benefits of RNAV are especially through congested areas
illustrated in Figure 16.7, these include: Flying direct to a VOR navigation aid (or
waypoint) when cleared or directed by air
Customised and/or modified routes, e.g. to
traffic control (ATC), thereby shortening
avoid congested airspace, or adverse
the distance flown (Figure 16.7d).
weather conditions (Figure 16.7a)
o Optimising the route (Figure l6.7b) to These features lead to a reduction of operating
bypass navigation aids (cutting corners), costs achieved by saving time and/or fuel. RNAV
e.g. if VOR-C is out of range, the RNAV equipped aircraft are able to operate in flexible
leg is created thereby shortening the scenarios that are not possible with conventional
distance flown airway routes, this leads to higher utilisation of
Area navigation 191


Aiwoy AD

Ansoy 0-C

RNAV route


(a) Avoiding weather via RNAV routing (b) Oplimloing a route to bypasn a navigotionat aid

WanT.eerl A Waypoet a
RNAY,oete I

Cr on s Into cit

_____T__ VOW-B

ATC di,rtt In VOr00C VO0-C

O-.~ RNAVroute1 VOW-A

(ci Paraltet tracks using RNAV (ci) RNAV direct to cI eorarco

Figure 16.7 Features and benefits of RNAV

the aircraft. VORDME defined airways were Present position in latitude and longitude
supplemented in the 1970s with RNAV routes, Wind speed and wind direction
but this scheme has now been superseded (see Distance, bearing and time to the active
Required navigation performance at the end of waypoint.
this chapter).
The pilot can call up stored waypoints;
alternatively, the pilot can create waypoints. The
CDU can also be used for selecting the direct
16.2 RNAV equipment
to feature. Navigation guidance information
In addition to the VOR and DME equipment displayed on the CDU will also be displayed (via
described in previous chapters, an RNAV system a Rad/Nav switch) for the primary navigation
also incorporates a control display unit, instruments, e.g. the course deviation indicator
navigation instruments and a computer. (CDI). Guidance information on this instrument
will include a continuous display of aircraft
16.2.1 Control display unit (CDU) position relative to the desired track. Navigation
sensor failure warnings will also be displayed on
Pilot inputs to the system are via a control display the primary navigation instruments. To achieve
unit (CDU), see Figure 16.8(a). Typical CDLJ the maximum benefits of an RNAV system,
displays include: outputs are coupled to the automatic flight
192 Aircraft communicatins and navigation systems

control system (AFCS) by selecting NAy on

the AFCS mode control panel. Auto-leg
sequencing with associated turn anticipation is
possible within the control laws of the AFCS.

16.2.2 Navigation instruments

One instrument that can be used for the display of
RNAV information is the course deviation
indicator (CDI). This has a compass display and
course selector as shown in Figure 16.8(b). The
course selector (lower right-hand side of
instrument) is set to the desired leg; a deviation
pointer moves left or right of the aircraft symbol
to indicate if the aircraft is to the right or left of
the selected leg.

(a) RNAV control display unit (CDU) 16.2.3 Computer

The RNAV computer is used to resolve a variety
of navigation equations. In order to realise the
benefits of RNAV, systems contain a navigation
database (see below). Simple area navigation is
achieved by solving geometric equations; the data
required for these calculations is obtained from
the relative bearings of VOR stations and/or
distances from DME stations.
In navigation calculations, bearings are referred
to as theta (6) and distances as rho (p). The
RNAV definition of a waypoint using a co
located VORDME navigation aid is illustrated
in Figure 16.9. Accurate horizontal range can be
calculated by the computer based on:
(b) Course deviation indicator o DME slant range
DME transponder elevation
Figure 16.8 RNAV control and display
aircraft altitude.
This calculation provides the true range as
Key point illustrated in Figure 16.10. Transponder elevation
is obtained from the computers navigation
RNAV systems use a combination of navigation database. Altitude information is provided by an
system inputs. encoding altimeter or air data computer (ADC).
Cross track deviation, either intentional or
otherwise, is calculated as shown in Figure 16.11.
Computers in more sophisticated systems are
Key point also able to auto-tune navigation aids to provide
the optimum navigation solution. The system
RNAV equipped aircraft are able to operate in decides on whether to use combinations of VOR
conditions and scenarios that would not have VOR (thetatheta), VORDME (thetarho) or
been previously possible, thereby obtaining higher DMEDME (rhorho). Note that when two DME
utilisation of the aircraft.
navigation aids are used, there is an ambiguous
Area navigation 193



/ p3
1. Aircraft position defined by Pi Si
Waypoint (VOR radial DME range)
2. Waypoint defined by P262
3. RNAV route defined by p~O~

(a) RNAV triangulation

y=p sinS

w 0- E

x = p cosS

(b) RNAV calculation

Figure 16.9 RNAV geometry

194 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

slant range (Ps)

Horizontal range (PH)

Altitude (A)

DME ele

MSL - -

DME distance measuring equipment =J(p~)2_ (AE)2

MSL mean sea level PH

Figure 16.10 RNAV geometryvertical profile

P2 Parallel track
(cross-track deviation)



Aircraft right of airway (as shown):

= 2400

= 3000 reference data for P1

p2=SOnm ,l

Pi =p2sin(82 Si)
= 50 sin 600

= 50 x 0.866
= 43.3 nm (right of airway)

If the aircraft was to the left of the airway, a negative value of p would be calculated this is
interpreted as being left of the airway

Figure 16.11 RNAV geometrylateral profile

Area navigation 195

position fix, see Figure 16.12; this can be

resolved in a number of ways, e.g. by tuning into
a third DME navigation aid or tuning into a VOR
station. Systems use algorithms to determine DME ii OME 2

which combination of navigation aids to use; this

will depend on signal strength and geometry.
Four-dimensional waypoints can also be defined
by speciI~ing the required time of arrival over a
three-dimensional waypoint. This is discussed
Figure 16.12 Ambiguous DME position fix
further in the flight management system chapter.
Other aircraft sensor inputs such as initial fuel located on land, RNAV based on these navigation
quantity, fuel flow, airspeed and time provide the aids alone does not extend far beyond coastal
means of calculating range, estimated time of regions. Referring to Figure 16.15, a combination
arrival (ETA), endurance etc. This data can be of radio navigation stations located in a number
provided for specific waypoints or the final of European countries provides a certain amount
destination. of navigation guidance in the North Atlantic,
Norwegian Sea and North Sea. This diagram
16.2.4 Navigation database (NOB) assumes a line-of-sight range of approximately
The navigation database (stored within the 200 nm. The gaps in this radio navigation
RNAV computers memory) contains permanent network can be overcome by the use of
records for VOR, DME and VORTAC navigation alternative navigation systems including: inertial
aids. Table 16.2 illustrates the locations, navigation, Doppler, global satellite navigation
identification codes, and navigation aid type for a systems and Loran-C; these are all described
typical European country. Details that are stored elsewhere in this book.
in the database include specific information for
each navigation aid such as:
Table 16.2 Navigation aids in Belgium
Identification code Name Identification Type
Navigation aid type
Latitude and longitude
Affligem AR VOROME
Elevation Antwerpen ANT VOROME
Transmission frequency. Beauvechain BBE TACAN
The navigation database is updated every 28 days Bruno BUN VORUME
to take into account anything that has changed
with a navigation aid, e.g. frequency changes, Brussels BUB VOROME
temporary unavailability etc. The pilot can enter Chievres CIV VOR
new or modified details for navigation aids that
Chievres CIV TACAN
might not be contained in the navigation
database. Waypoints can either be entered as they Costa COA VOROME
appear on navigation charts, or the pilot can Flora FLO VOROME
create them. The navigation database in more
sophisticated RNAV systems will also include Florennes BFS TACAN
standard instrument departures (SIDs), standard Gosly GSY VORDME
terminal arrival routes (STARs), runway data and
three-dimensional (latitude, longitude and Huldenberg HUL VORDME
altitude) waypoints to facilitate air traffic control Kleine Brogel BBL TACAN
requirements. Figures 16.13 and 16.14 give
examples of SIDS and STARS. Note that since
VOR and DME navigation aids have to be Liege LGE VORDME
196 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Above 3000

At 6000

Ahote 3000
vort.DME (1)

At 6000

I. In this iliutiralios, each of the three njriways hat a specific departure route to the VOR-OME (2)naeigatiot aid; the aircraft thenjoins the airways network
2, The stat are typically referenced to natigalion atdt. e.g. VOR-DME or marker beacoes -
3. There woald alto ha published departure routes for aircraft joining airways to the south, east ard roflh
4, Reporting poinle (Iriarrgles) are often specified with ailiturte cortlraintt, e.g. at, below or aboae 3000

Figure 16.13 Illustration of standard instrument departures (SID)

Test your understanding 16.1 16.3 Kalman filters

Give (a) three features and (b) three benefits of One essential feature of advanced RNAV systems
RNAV. is the use of Kalman filters, named after Dr
Richard Kalman who introduced this concept in
the 1960s. Kalman filters are optimal recursive
data processing algorithms that filter navigation
sensor measurements. The mathematical model is
Test your understanding 16.2 based on equations solved by the navigation
processor. To illustrate the principles of Kalman
The navigation database contains permanent filters, consider an R.NAV system based on
records for radio navigation aids. List the typical inertial navigation sensors with periodic updates
information that is stored for each one.
from radio navigation aids. (Inertial navigation is
described in Chapter 17.) One key operational
aspect of inertial navigation is that system errors
accumulate with time. When the system receives
a position fix from navigation aids, the inertial
Test your understanding 16.3 navigation systems errors can be corrected.
The key feature of the Kalman filter is that it
What feature is used to select the best navigation can analyse these errors and determine how they
aids for optimised area navigation? might have occurred; the filters are recursive, i.e.
they repeat the correction process on a succession
of navigation calculations and can learn about
Area navigation 197

RePorting point

Route 5

Route I

Holding pauern

__________I- lL5127R

/Route 4 Route


I. tn this itlustration, each of the three arrivat routes is associated with a navigation aid (VOR-OME) and reporttng point (sotid triangles)
2. Each arrivat route is normally allocated a holding pattern
3. Minimum sector altitudes are published for each route
4. When cleared by .~TC, the aircraft would leave the holding pattern and be given a heading 10 join the ILS for the aclive runway, e.g. 27R

Figure 16.14 Illustration of standard terminal arrival routes (STAR)

the specific error characteristics of the sensors

Test your understanding 16.4
used. The numerous types of navigation sensors
What is the difference between a SID and STAR? employed in RNAV systems vary in their
principle of operation as described in the specific
chapters of this book. Kalman filters take
advantage of the dissimilar nature of each sensor
type; with repeated processing of errors,
complementary filtering of sensors can be
Key point achieved.
The RNAV navigation database is updated every
28 days to take into account anything that has
changed with a navigation aid, e.g. frequency Test your understanding 16.5
changes, temporary unavailability etc.
Explain the purpose of a Kalman filter.
198 Aircraft communications and navigation systems
20W O~W 20E 40E
values are expressed by a number, e.g. RNP-5.
This indicates that (on a statistical basis) the
aircrafts area navigation system must maintain
the aircraft for 95% of the flight time within 5 nm
of the intended flight envelope, i.e. either side of,
and along the track. RNP-5 is used for basic
RNAV (BRNAV) in Europe. It is not specified
how this navigation performance should be
achieved, or what navigation equipment is to he
used. RNP for terminal operations is less than 1
nm; these systems require performance
monitoring and alert messages to the crew in the
event of system degradation.
Typical functions required of a BRNAV
system include:
Figure 16.15 Line of sight coverage of radio Aircraft position relative to the desired
navigation aids in Northern Europe track
Distance and bearing to the next waypoint
Ground speed, or time to the next
16.4 Required navigation performance waypoint
(RNP) Waypoint storage (four minimum)
o Equipment failure warnings to the crew.
Simple area navigation systems can use radio
navigation aid inputs such as VOR and DME to Recommended BRNAV functions that maximise
provide definitions of waypoints as described in the capabilities of the system include:
this chapter. Comprehensive area navigation Roll commands to an automatic flight
systems use a variety of sensors such as satellite control system (AFCS)
and inertial reference systems; these specific Aircraft position expressed as latitude and
systems are addressed in more detail in longitude
subsequent chapters. The accuracy and reliability
A direct to capability
of area navigation systems has led to a number of
Navigation accuracy indication
navigation performance standards and procedures
for the aircraft industry; these are known as Automatic tuning of navigation aids
required navigation performance (RNP). Navigation database
Various RNAV systems together with their Automatic leg sequencing and/or turn
associated RNP are evolving via individual anticipation.
aviation authorities. This is embraced by the Note that if an inertial reference system (IRS) is
generic term of performance-based navigation used as a sensor, the BRNAV system must have
(PBN). Factors that contribute to overall area the capability of automatically tuning into radio
navigation accuracy include: navigation aids after a maximum period of two
External navigation aids hours; this is because an IRS derived position will
The aircrafts navigation equipment drift (see Chapter 17). If a global navigation
(including displays) satellite system (GNSS) is used as a sensor into
the RNAV system, the GNSS must have fault
Automatic flight control system (AFCS).
detection software known as receiver autonomous
The International Civil Aviation Organisation integrity monitoring (RAIM), see Chapter 18.
(ICAO) has defined RNAV accuracy levels Single RNAV systems are permissible, however,
covering terminal, en route, oceanic and approach the aircraft must be able to revert to conventional
flight phases with specific navigation navigation using VOR, DME and ADF in the
performance values between 1 and 10 nm. These event of RNAV equipment failure.
Area navigation 199

In more remote areas, eg isolated oceanic

regions where it is impossible to locate giound
Test your understanding 16.7
navigation aids, RNP-lO applies This allows Explain what is meant by RNP and why it is
spacing of 50 nm between airciaft in place of 100 needed
nm The RNAV system now needs two
independent long-range systems, e g IRS and/or
GNSS If using IRS as a sensor, the system has to
ieceive a position fix with a specified period,
typically 62 hours The GNSS has to have fault Test your understanding 168
detection and exclusion (FDE) capability, a
technique used to exclude erroneous or failed Explain why an RNAV database needs to be
satellites from the navigation calculations by updated every 28 days
comparing the data fiom six satellites ________________________________________________

165 Mu~tipIe choice questions

Key point
1 Waypoints are defined geogiaphically by
Waypoints can be based on existing navigation
aids and defined mathematically as (a) latitude and longitude
(b) VOR fiequency
rhotheta (using one DME and one VOR (c) DME range
navigation aid)
rhetatheta (using two VOR navigation aids) 2 S113s are used during the following flight
rhorho (using two DME navigation aids) (a) arrival
(b) cruise
(c) departuie

3 Accuiate area navigation using DMEDME

Key point requires
Auto-tuning of navigation aids is used by RNAV
systems to select the best navigation aids for ~
optimised area navigation (c) VOR radials

4 Rhotheta is an expression foi which area

________________________________________________ navigation solution9
Key point (b) VORDME
Required navigation performance (RNP) is the
performance-based successor to area navigation
(RNAV) 5 Navigation legs are defined by
(a) speed and distance
(b) bearing and distance
________________________________________________ (c) bearing and speed

Test your understanding 16.6 6 Specific information for each navigation aid is
contained in the
Explain why RNAV systems using VORDME are (a) navigation database
generally unavailable beyond land and its
immediate coastal regions (b) control display unit
(c) course deviation indicator
200 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

7. Flying a parallel track requires a specified: 15. An area navigation position calculated from
(a) cross track deviation two DME stations is referred to
(b) bearing mathematically as:
(c) distance to go. (a) thetatheta
(b) rhotheta
8. A three-dimensional waypoint is defined by: (c) rhorho.
(b) latitude, longitude, altitude 16. The feature marked X in Figure 16.16 is a:
(c) rhothetarho. (a) VORDME
(b) STAR
9. Autotuning of navigation aids is used by (c) waypoint.
RNAV systems to:
(a) update the navigation database
(b) create waypoints in the CDU
(c) select the best navigation aids for //
optimised area navigation.
10. Cross track deviation is displayed on the CDII /
(a) ifivfl
(b) DME
(c) HSI.

11. The navigation database is normally updated:

Figure 16.16 See Question 16
(a) at the beginning of each flight
(b) every 28 days
(c) when selected by the pilot.

12.A four-dimensional waypoint is defined by:

(a) lateral position, altitude and time
(b) latitude, longitude, altitude and speed
(c) altitude, direction, speed and time.

13.VORTAC navigation aids comprise which

two facilities:
(b) VOR and TACAN
(c) TACAN and NDB.

14. RNP-2 requires that the aircraft:

(a) uses a minimum of two different
navigation sensor inputs
(b) is maintained within two nautical miles of
the specified flight path
(c) is maintained within two degrees of the
specified flight path.
Chapter Inertial navigation system

Inertial navigation is an autonomous dead Mass

reckoning method of navigation, i.e. it requ res no
external inputs or references from ground
stations. The system was developed in the I 950s
for use by the US military and subsequently the
space programmes. Inertial navigation systems
(INS) were introduced into commercial aircraft
service during the early 1970s. The system is able
to compute navigation data such as present
position, distance to waypoint, heading, ground
speed, wind speed and wind direction. It does not
need radio navigation inputs and it does not
transmit radio frequencies. Being self-contained,
the system is ideally suited for long distance
navigation over oceans and undeveloped areas of / a

the globe. The reader should be aware that, as Relative movement / Movement of
of mass to the left accelerometer
with many avionic systems, significant
developments have occurred with inertial
navigation systems in recent decades; the inertial
system is often integrated with other avionic units
and there are a variety of system configurations
being operated. This chapter seeks to provide an
introduction to the principles of inertial k
navigation together with some examples of a

typical hardware. Movement of Relative movement

accelerometer of mass to the right

17.1 Inertial navigation principles Figure 17.1 Accelerometer

The primary sensors used in the system are
accelerometers and gyroscopes (hereinafter
gyro) to determine the motion of the aircraft. is maintained, the mass returns to the neutral
These sensors provide reference outputs that are position. When the accelerometer is moved to the
processed to develop navigation data. left, or brought to rest, the relative movement of
To illustrate the principle of inertial navigation, the mass is to the right. The mass continues in its
consider the accelerometer device illustrated in existing state of rest or movement unless the
Figure 17.1; this is formed with a mass and two applied force changes; this is the property of
springs within a housing. Newtons second law of inertia. Attaching an electrical pick-up to the
motion states that a body at rest (or in motion) accelerometer creates a transducer that can
tends to stay at rest (or in motion) unless acted measure the amount of relative movement of the
upon by an outside force. Moving the mass. This relative movement is in direct
accelerometer to the right causes a relative proportion to the acceleration being applied to
movement of mass to the left. If the applied force the device, expressed in mis2. If we take this
202 Aircraft communications and navigation systems
electrical output and mathematically integrate
the value, we are effectively multiplying the
acceleration output by time; this can be expressed Accelerauco
Th ~ ~ Time

Time x acceleration = s x mis2 = rn/s = velocity
If we now take this velocity output and
mathematically integrate the value, we are once veloc ty

again multiplying the output by time; this can be ~

expressed as:
Time x velocity = s x rn/s = m = distance

In summary, we started by measuring Distance
acceleration, and were able to derive velocity _Ld:me

and distance information by applying the

mathematical process of integration. To illustrate
this principle, consider a body accelerating at 5 Figure 17.2 Integration profile
m/s2, after ten seconds the velocity of the body
will l5e 50 rn/s. If this body now travels at a True north
constant velocity of 50 rn/s for ten seconds, it will
have changed position by 500 m.
Referring to the profile illustrated in Figure
17.2, at t~, the accelerometer is at rest and its
output is zero. When the accelerometer is moved Platform
during the time period to t1, there is a positive

output from the accelerometer; this is integrated

to provide velocity and distance as illustrated in
Figure 17.2. As the accelerometer reaches a W-E accelerometer
steady velocity during the time period t1 I,, the

distance travelled increases. Acceleration N-S accelerometer

increases and decreases during the journey
(shown as positive and negative), until the Figure 17.3 Platform NS-EW
destination is reached.
This accelerometer is providing useful velocity housing is sensed by an electrical pick-off signal.
and distance information, but only measured in A closed loop servomechanism feedback signal
one direction. If we take two accelerometers and (proportional to acceleration) is then amplified
mount them on a platform at right angles to and used to restrain the mass in the null position.
each other, we can measure acceleration (and The amount of feedback required to maintain the
subsequently velocity and distance information) null position is proportional to the sensed
in any lateral direction. Thinking of an aircraft acceleration; this becomes the accelerometers
application, if we can align the platform with a output signal. Calculation of basic navigation data
known reference, e.g. true north, the two is illustrated in Figure 17.5. By combining two
accelerometers are then directed NS and WE accelerometer outputs in the directions NS and
respectively, see Figure 17.3. We now have the WE, we can sum the vector outputs and
means of calculating our velocity and distance calculate distance and velocity in the horizontal
travelled in any lateral direction. plane. By comparing the distance travelled with
An illustration of how the basic navigation the starting position (see alignment process in
calculations are performed is given in Figure Section 17.4) we can calculate our present
17.4. In a practical inertial navigation system, position.
there is very little actual movement of the mass. Since the aircraft will be operating through a
The relative displacement between the mass and range of pitch and roll manoeuvres, it is vital that
Inertial navigation system 203
Recentering (feedback)


Starting position Present position

Digital computer

Figure 17.4 Navigation calculations (1)

Starting position

Present position

Accelerometer outputs

Earths horizontal plane


Figure 17.5 Navigation calculations (2)

204 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

when measuring acceleration in the NS and W 17.3 System description

E directions, we do not measure the effects of
gravity. The original inertial navigation systems The components described in this section are for
maintained a physical platform such that it was devices used in typical commercial tiansport
always aligned with true north, and always aircraft, note that system architecture varies
level with respect to the earths surface. considerably with different aircraft types A long-
Electromechanical gyros and torque motors range aircraft will have three independent inertial
mounted within gimbals in each of the three axes reference systems, each providing its own
achieved these requirements. The platform is navigation information
aligned with true north and levelled at the The inertial navigation system can be
beginning of the flight; this condition is considered to have three functions
maintained throughout the flight.
o References
A by-product of aligning and levelling the
platform is that attitude information is available
for use by flight instruments and other systems. Crew interface.
Modem day commercial aircraft inertial
navigation systems are equipped with strap- 17.3.1 References
down devices including solid-state gyros and Accelerometers
accelerometers. The alignment process and
attitude compensation is now achieved in the These can be single or three axis devices; a
computers software, i.e. there is no physical typical single axis device is packaged in a 25 x 25
platform. mm casing weighing 45 grams (see Figure 17.7).
This contains a pendulum (proof-mass) that
senses acceleration as previously described over
the range +40 g; relative displacement between
17.2 System overview the pendulum and casing is sensed by a high gain
capacitance pick-off and a pair of coils.
The key principles of inertial navigation aie A closed loop servomechanism feedback signal
based on accelerometer and gyro references (proportional to acceleration) is then amplified
together with a navigation processing function. and demodulated. This feedback signal (analogue
These can be combined within a single inertial current or digital pulses) is applied to the coils to
navigation system (INS) and dedicated crew restrain the pendulum at the nnll position.
interface as illustrated in Figure 17.6. The feedback required to maintain the null
Alternatively, the accelerometers and gyros are position is proportional to the sensed
contained within an inertial reference unit acceleration; this becomes the accelerometers
(IRU), the processing function and crew interface output signal. Because of the high gain of the
is then integrated within the flight management servomechanism electronics used, pendulum
computer system (FMCS). displacements are limited to microradians. An
Within the FMCS, the flight management integral temperature sensor provides thermal
computer (FMC) combines area navigation and compensation. The IRU contains three devices,
performance management into a single system measuring acceleration in the longitudinal, lateral
(described in Chapter 19). and normal axes of the aircraft.

Key point Key point

The primary sensors used in the inertial The inertial navigation system needs to
navigation system are accelerometers and gyros establish a local attitude reference and direction
to determine the aircrafts movement. These of true north for navigation purposes. During
sensors provide outputs that are processed to this process, the aircraft should not be moved.
provide basic navigation data.
Inertial navigation system 205

AutopUot references

Air data computer

(true airspeed)

Figure 17.6(a) Inertial navigation system (general arrangement)

Figure 17.6(b) Inertial navigation system (courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

Key point Key point

Synthesised magnetic variation can be obtained By comparing the position outputs of three on-
from inertial navigation systems meaning that board inertial navigation systems, this also
remote sensing compass systems are not provides a means of error checking between
required. systems.
206 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Output signal

Servo amplifier

Acceleration force

Power supply


Figure 17.7(a) Accelerometer arrangement

Test your understanding 17.1

The output from an accelerometer goes through
two stages of integration; what does each of these
integration stages produce?

Developments in micro-electromechanical
systems (MEMS) technology has led to silicon
accelerometers that are more reliable and can be
manufactured onto an integrated circuit. MEMS
is the integration of mechanical elements, sensors
and electronics on a common silicon substrate
through micro-fabrication technology. Figure
17.7(b) shows the LN-200 inertial measurement
unit from Northrop Grumman; the micro-
Figure 17.7(b) MEMS accelerometers machined accelerometers are in the upper section
mounted above the fibre optic gyros of the unit. The lower section of the unit contains
(courtesy of Northrop Grumman) fibre optic gyros (see below). The entire unit
weighs less than 750 grams and is packaged
within a 9 cm diameter housing.

Key point
Errors in the inertial navigation system are
random and build up as a function of time; this The original inertial navigation systems used
applies even if the aircraft is stationary. electromechanical gyros; these were subsequently
replaced by a more reliable and accurate
Inertial navigation system 207
technology: the ring laser gyro (RLG). Ring
laser gyros use interference of a laser beam within
an optic path, or ring, to detect rotational
displacement. An IRU contains three such
devices (see Figure 17.8) for measuring changes
in pitch, roll and azimuth. (Note that laser gyros Readout
are not actually gyroscopes in the strict sense of
the wordthey are in fact sensors of angular rate
of rotation about an axis.) Two laser beams
are transmitted in opposite directions (contra
rotating) around a cavity within a triangular block
of cervit glass; mirrors are located in two of the
corners. The cervit glass (ceramic) material is
very hard and has an ultra-low thermal expansion Anode
coefficient. The two laser beams travel the same
distance, but in opposite directions; with a Figure 17.8(a) Ring laser gyro arrangement
stationary RLG, they arrive at the detector at the
same time.
The principles of the laser gyro are based on
the Sagnac effect, named after the French
physicist Georges Sagnac (18691926). This
phenomenon results from interference caused by
rotation. Interferometry is the science and
technique of superposing (interfering) two or
more waves, which creates a resultant wave
different from the two input waves; this technique
is used to detect the differences between input
waves. In the aircraft RLG application, when the
aircraft attitude changes, the RLG rotates; the
laser beam in one path now travels a greater
distance than the beam in the other path; this
changes its phase at the detector with respect to
the other beam. The angular position, i.e.
direction and rate of the RLG, is measured by the
phase difference of the two beams. This phase Figure 17.8(b) Ring laser gyro (photo
difference appears as a fringe pattern caused by courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
the interference of the two wave patterns. The
fringe pattern is in the form of light pulses that
can be directly translated into a digital signal.
Operating ranges of typical RLGs are 10000 per cavities machined to close tolerances and
second in pitch, roll and azimuth. In theory, the precision mirrors. There are also life issues
RLG has no moving parts; in practice there is a associated with the technology. A variation of
device required to overcome a phenomena called this laser gyro technology is the fibre optic gyro
lock-in. This occurs when the frequency (FOG), where the transmission paths are through
difference between the two beams is low coiled fibre optic cables packaged into a canister
(typically 1000 Hz) and the two beams merge arrangement to sense pitch, roll and yaw, see
their frequencies. The solution is to mechanically Figure 17.9. The fibre optic gyroscope also
oscillate the RLG to minimise the amount of time uses the interference of light through several
in this lock-in region. kilometres of coiled fibre optic cable to detect
Ring laser gyros are very expensive to angular rotation. Two light beams travel along the
manufacture; they require very high quality glass, fibre in opposite directions and produce a phase
208 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Gyro Accelerometer

Platform ~ ______

(a) Platform device


Figure 17.9 Fibre optic gyro assembly

shift due to the Sagnac effect. Fibre optic gyros

have a life expectancy in excess of 3.5 million

17.3.2 Inertial signal processing Midnight

The acceleration and angular rate outputs from

the IRU are transmitted via a data bus to the (b) Platform aligned with inertial space
navigation processor, in the flight management
computer (FMC). Aside from navigation
purposes, the IRU outputs are also supplied to Noon
other systems, e.g. the primary flying display and
weather radar for attitude reference. Acceleration
is measured as a linear function in each of the
three aircraft axes; normal, lateral and
longitudinal. Attitude is measured as an angular
rate in pitch, roll and yaw.
These outputs are resolved and combined with
air data inputs to provide navigation data, e.g.
latitude, longitude, true heading, distance to the
next waypoint, ground speed, wind speed and
wind direction. The processor simultaneously
performs these navigation calculations using
outputs from all three accelerometers and angular Midnight
rate sensors; in addition to these calculations, the
processor has to compensate for three physical
effects of the earth. (c) Platform aligned with the earths surface
Rotation Figure 17.10 Effect of gyro and
Geometry, accelerometer alignment relative to the
earths rotation
Inertial navigation system 209

Effects ofgravity includes (a) the rotation of the earth about its own
axis and (b) the orbit around the sun:
The navigation processor needs to determine the
relationship between the aircraft attitude and 360 over 24 hours = 15/hour
surface of the earth such that the accelerometers o 360 over 365 days = 0.04/hour.
only measure aircraft motion, not gravity.
Outputs from each of the laser gyros are angular This earth rate of up to 15.04 degrees per hour
rates of rotation about an axis. These outputs are depends on latitude. Earth rate is a component
integrated, i.e. multiplied by time, to provide that is subtracted from any measurement of
measurements of pitch, roll and heading. To aircraft angular rate sensed in an easterly
illustrate this principle, a yaw rate of 4.5 degrees! direction.
second over a ten second period equates to a
heading change of 45. If the aircrafts heading is Effects of the earth ~c geometiy
now a constant 090, and pitch/roll rates are zero, The final consideration for the processor to
the only acceleration measured is along the address is the spherical geometry of the earth.
longitudinal axis of the aircraft. With a constant As the aircraft travels around the earth in straight
velocity of 500 knots, after one hour the and level flight (parallel to the surface) it actually
navigation processor calculates that the aircraft describes an arc. The pitch laser gyro senses this
has changed position by 500 nm in an easterly as an angular rate with respect to inertial space.
direction. When integrated, this rate output is converted into
Now consider the same scenario, but with the a change of pitch attitude. Clearly no pitch
aircraft climbing with a 10 degrees nose up change has actually occurred due to this
attitude, The processor needs to separate out transport rate; the processor needs to subtract
vertical and lateral accelerations caused by this component from the pitch laser gyro
gravity and motion of the aircraft respectively. measurement. To calculate transport rate, the
The accelerometer is needed to measure motion distance travelled (described by an arc) and angle
parallel to the earths surface but if the aircraft is subtended from the earths centre are divided by
pitching or rolling, it will not be able to time. This relationship can be developed to relate
distinguish between gravity and aircraft lateral (tangential) velocity and angular rate. The
acceleration. The component of gravity has to be navigation processor calculates transport rate
separated out of the measured acceleration. from lateral velocity divided by an estimate of the
earths radius plus the aircraft altitude. Transport
Effects of the earth s rotation rate is then subtracted from any gyro output using
The processor now has to take into account the a process known as Schnler tuning (after the
effect of the earths rotation. To illustrate this Austrian physicist Max Schuler who solved the
effect, consider a platform device with an problem of accelerations due to the effect of ship
accelerometer and gyro as shown in Figure 17.10 manoeuvres on pendulum-based gyro-magnetic
(a). In this schematic illustration, the gyro is used compass systems). Schuler tuning is achieved by
to maintain the platform in a stable position. As feeding back aircraft rate terms such that the
the earth rotates, the platform maintains its system is always aligned to the local vertical as
position with respect to inertial space (Figure the aircraft travels over the spherical earth.
17.10(b)), however, it is moving relative to the
earths surface. The platform has to be aligned 17.3.3 Crew interface
with the earths surface (Figure 17.10(c)) so that A complete inertial navigation system (INS) is
we can use it practically for navigation purposes. illustrated in Figure 17.11. The LTN-92 system
With a strap-down system, each laser gyro will (from Northrop Grumman) contains the inertial
measure the angular rate of rotation of the aircraft navigation unit (IRU), control display unit (CDU)
about an axis. Since each laser gyro is fixed in and mode selector unit (MSU). The CDU is the
position within the IRU, with the aircraft on the crews interface with the system; it used to enter
ground, it will also measure the rotation of the data into the IRU, e.g. present position during the
earth in an easterly direction. This motion alignment process. It also provides warnings and
210 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

systems. These provide the inertial reference

system (IRS) status and fault indications as
illustrated in Table 17.1.
The IRMP also has two alphanumeric displays;
the data being displayed depends on what has
been selected by a rotary switch. This displayed
information is illustrated in Table 17.2. (A second
rotary switch selects which system information is
being displayed, e.g. left, centre or right.)
The IRMP normally displays data that has been
entered via the control display unit (Figure
17.14); however, the IRIvIPs alphanumeric
keyboard can also be used to enter data including
latitude, longitude and magnetic heading.

Table 17.1 IRS status and fault indications

Figure 17.11 LTN92 system (photo courtesy
of Northrop Grumman) Caption Colour Purpose
Align White RU is in the align mode,
alerts back to the crew, e.g. if incorrect data has initial attitude mode, or
been inserted or if the system develops navigation powering down
errors. The MSU is used to turn the system on On DC Amber RU has switched to backup
and to initiate the alignment process before battery power
selection of the navigation mode. DC fail Amber DC power failure to the IRU
If the IRS is integrated with the flight
management system (FMS) (as described in Fault Amber Built-in test has detected a
Chapter 19), crew interface with the IRU is via failure, or certain alignment
the FMS control display unit (Figure 17.12) and problems have occurred
inertial reference mode panel (IRMP) on the
overhead panel as shown in Figure 17.13.
The IRIvIP is used to initiate the alignment Table 17.2 Inertial reference mode panel
process before selection of the navigation mode. (IRMP) displays
(NB Alignment must be achieved before moving
the aircraft.) Four operating modes can be
Left display Right display
selected via the IRMP for each of the systems: ~
off TKIGS Track angle
Navigate PPOS Latitude Longitude
o Attitude. Wind Wind angle Wind speed
When the system is selected from off to align, the HDG True heading Blank
initialisation process is started. Present position is
entered via the CDU, this is checked for accuracy
within the IRLJ. When the system is aligned (see
Section 17.4) the navigation mode can he Test your understanding 17.2
selected. In the event of navigatinn computer
failure, the IRU can be selected to provide What is the difference between an RLG and an
attitude references only for the flight instruments. FOG?
Four annunciators are provided for each of the

Inertial navigation system 211

44 POS INIT 1/2

N4038.O W07346.4 ~

IRS P05 El

Figure 17.12 EMS control display unit

Figure 17.14 CDU position information

aircraft carrier, alignment has to be accomplished

whilst the aircraft is moving. In this case, an
external reference is required, e.g. the carriers
own inertial navigation system.) Systems using an
electromechanical gimballed platform need this
time for the gyros to level the platform with
respect to the local vertical and align the platform
in the direction of true north. For strap-down
systems, there is no platform as such; however,
the system still needs to establish a local attitude
reference and direction of true north for
navigation purposes.
For illustration purposes, a strap-down IRS
using ring laser gyros (RLG) is described. With
the aircrafts longitudinal axis lined up exactly
with true north (Figure 17.15(a)), the roll RLG
will sense an angular rate corresponding to the
earths rotation; the pitch RLG output (as a
function of the earths rotation) will be zero. If
the aircrafts longitudinal axis were lined up
Figure 17.13 IRS panel in the overhead exactly to the east (Figure 17.15(b)), the pitch
display of a Boeing 757 RLG would correspond to the earths rotation and
the roll RLG (as a function of the earths rotation)
would be zero. Any aircraft position other than
17.4 Alignment process these two examples will provide NS and WE
components of the earths rotation enabling the
A fundamental iequirement of inertial navigation system to determine the direction of true north.
is the initial alignment process; this is required to Furthermore, the reference system can estimate
determine a local vertical and direction of true latitude and true heading by sensing these
north. Alignment must be carried out with the rotational vectors.
aircraft on the ground and stationary. (Note that Referring to Figure 17.16, local vertical is
in certain cases, e.g. on the flight deck of an computed by sensing gravity via the systems
212 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

True north Accelerometers

compute local vertical Laser gyros

from sensed grevily
compute Cue north and estimate latitude using Present position
Oat vertical and sensed earth rotation
rotation detected in lateral True north Latitude and longitude
direction by roll gyroscope

no rotation detected in tongitudinal complete alignment when Cue north, local vertical and latitude computed
and correct latitude and longitude inserted
direction by pitch gyroscope

IRS determines that the aircraft Earths rotation

is atigned with true north

(a) Aircrafts longitudinal axis aligned with True north

true north
True north

Earths rotation tW.E)

rotation detected in longitudinal
direction by pitch gyroscope

no rotation detected in taterat Figure 17.16 Computation of local vertical,

direction by rot gyroscope
true north and aircraft position by the
RE determines that the aircraft Earths rotation navigation processor
is aligned irs easterly direction

(b) Aircrafts longitudinal axis aligned due

east mode to indicate if:
present position has not been entered
Figure 17.15 Inertial system there is a significant difference between
the position entered and the last known
the aircraft has been moved.
three accelerometers. Utilising the local vertical
and sensing the earths rotation by the gyros If any of these events occur, the entire alignment
allows the IRU to estimate latitude and compute process would have to be started again thereby
the direction of true north. Once true north is causing a delay. The mode takes between 5 to 10
established, the aircrafts present position can be minutes to complete, depending on the system
entered; the system is now ready to navigate. and latitude.
Alignment is always initiated before departure At the equator, earth rate is a maximum and the
and it is essential that the aircraft is not moved direction of true north can be determined
until alignment is completed. If the aircraft were relatively quickly. This process takes longer up to
moved, e.g. by a towing tug, the accelerometers latitudes of 70 degrees, above which system
would measure this, thereby corrupting the accuracy and performance is degraded.
sensing of a local vertical. A warning (flashing Once aligned, the inertial navigation computer
align light) is provided during the alignment is always referenced to true north. It is therefore
Inertial navigation system 213

possible to establish the variation of the earths True North

magnetic field by reference to a look-up table in Aircraft centre line
the computers memory.
The reader will be aware from Chapter 8 that Next waypoint
or destination
magnetic variation is the difference between true
north and magnetic north; this variation depends
on where the observer is on the earths surface.
Magnetic variation also changes over the passage
of time and so the computers memory must be
updated on a periodic basis.
The synthesised magnetic variation that can be Great circle from last
waypoint or origin
obtained from inertial navigation systems means
that remote reading compass systems are not
required, thereby saving weight and system
installation costs.
By entering the origin airports position prior
to departure, and then calculating distance TKE
travelled as shown in Figure 17.5, the navigation
processor calculates the aircrafts present position Last waypoint
and desired track to the destination at any given or origin
time. Waypoints can be entered into the memory
for a given route, and the direction to that Figure 17.17 Navigation terminology
waypoint will be calculated and displayed.
Additional information that can be supplied by
the inertial navigation system is provided in Table
17.3, and illustrated in Figure 17.1 7. Test your understanding 17.3
How does an inertial navigation system derive the
magnetic variation?
Table 17.3 Navigation terminology

Term Abbreviation Description

Cross track distance XTK Shortest distance between the present position and desired track
Desired track angle DSRTK Angle between north and the intended flight path of the aircraft
Distance DIS Great circle distance to the next waypoint or destination
Drift angle DA Angle between the aircrafts heading and ground track
Ground track angle TK Angle between north and the flight path of the aircraft

Headin g HDG Horizontal angle measured clockwise between the aircrafts

centreline (longitudinal axis) and a specified reference
Present position P05 Latitude and longitude of the aircrafts position

Track angle error Angle between the actual track and desired track (equates to the
desired track angle minus the ground track angle)
Wind direction WD Angle between north and the wind vector
True airspeed TAS Measured in knots
Wind speed WS Measured in knots
Ground speed GS Measured in knots
214 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

17.5 Inertial navigation accuracy

The accuracy of an inertial navigation system
depends on a number of factors including: the 1-Origin alt three tRS aligned end
present positions are the tame
precision of the accelerometers and gyros; and the
accuracy of alignment with respect to true north
and local vertical. Errors in the system will build 2. As the flight progresses, the
three positions digress
up as a function of time; typical errors of between
one and two nautical miles per hour should be
allowed for; however, smaller errors can be
3. A fourth position {D) is calculated
achieved. based on a wetghted seerage or
the three IRS positions
These entrs are random and start to
accumulate from the moment that the navigation
mode starts. When three systems (A, B and C) are
aligned at the origin, their present positions are
identical. As the flight progresses, see Figure 0Mg-I
17.18, the three positions digress. By combining 0
the present positions of three on-board systems it
is possible to derive an optimised position (0)
within the triangle of positions.
By incorporating other navigation sensor Art updated aiscratt position can
be obtained by Incorporating two
outputs into the navigation computer, e.g. two 0145 ranges

DME navigation aids, or global navigation

sensors (see Section 17.7) it is possible to
develop an updated and accurate position
calculation. Furthermore, by comparing the
position outputs of three on-board systems, we 4, Further reenerisest of position tram OME navigation aids
are also providing a means of error checking
between systems. For example, if one systems Figure 17.18 Position drift
position differs from the other two by a
predetermined amount the crew can be alerted to
this and they might decide to deselect the system.
* Instantaneous velocity and position
Autonomous operation, i.e. it does not rely
17.6 Inertial navigation summary on ground-based navigation aids
Passive operation, i.e. it does not radiate
Inertial navigation has a number of advantages signals and cannot be jammed
and disadvantages compared with other systems. o The system can be used on a global basis
The disadvantages include:
and is unaffected by the weather.
The position calculation degrades with
time (even if the aircraft is not moving)
The equipment is expensive 17.7 System integration
Initial alignment is essential (this process
is degraded at high latitudes, above 70 There have been several references in this chapter
degrees) to stand-alone inertial navigation systems, and
those integrated with the flight management
o If the alignment process is interrupted, it
system. Many inertial systems are also integrated
has to be repeated leading to potential
with global positioning systems and air data
computers. An example of such a system is the
The advantages of inertial navigation include: Northrop Grumman global navigation air data
Inertial navigation system 215

inertial reference unit (GNADIRU) illustrated in 17.8 Multiple choice questions

Figure 17.19. This provides a powerful and
accurate (RNP 0.1) navigation system and
overcomes the problem of accumulated position 1. What output is produced from an
errors. The system integrates inertial and global accelerometer after the first integration
navigation satellite system (GNSS) measurements process?
to provide highly accurate aircraft position with (a) Acceleration
the high navigation integrity. Inertial sensing is (b) Velocity
based on state-of-the-art fibre optic gyros (c) Distance.
and micro-electromechanical systems silicon
accelerometers. The system also provides air data 2. If the applied force on an accelerometer is
information such as altitude, airspeed, angle of maintained, the mass:
attack and other air data parameters. (GNSS (a) stays in the same position
principles are described in Chapter 18.) (b) moves in the direction of the force
(c) returns to the neutral position.

3. During the align mode, local vertical is

sensed by:
(a) accelerometers
(b) gyros
(c) the earths rotation.

4. Establishing the orientation of true north is

achieved by sensing:
(a) local vertical
(b) the earths rotation
(c) the earths magnetic field.

5. Inertial navigation system errors are a factor

Figure 17.19 Global navigation air data (a) the aircrafts velocity
inertial reference unit (photo courtesy of (b) how long the system has been in the
Northrop Grumman) align mode
(c) how long the system has been in the
navigation mode.

6. Align mode is selected by the crew on the:

Test your understanding 17.4 (a) mode select unit
What are the sources of error in an inertial (b) control display unit
system? (c) inertial navigation unit.

7. During flight, with zero output from the

accelerometers, the aircrafts ground speed
and distance travelled are:
Test your understanding 17.5 (a) constant ground speed, increasing distance
List (a) three advantages, and (b) three (b) increasing ground speed, increasing
disadvantages of inertial navigation systems distance travelled
compared with other systems used for aircraft (c) decreasing ground speed, increasing
distance travelled.
216 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

8. Magnetic north can be derived by an inertial 16. Referring to Figure 17.20, drift angle is
reference system through: defined as the:
(a) knowledge of the present position and (a) difference between heading and ground
local magnetic variation track
(b) remote sensing of the earths magnetic (b) angle between north and intended flight
field path
(c) the earths rotation. (c) angle between north and the aircrafts
flight path.
9. Once aligned, the inertial navigation computer
is always referenced to: 17. Referring to Figure 17.20, the shortest
(a) magnetic north distance between the present position and
(b) true north desired track is:
(c) latitude and longitude. (a) desired track angle
(b) ground track angle
10. Errors in an inertial navigation system are: (c) cross track distance.
(a) random and build up as a ftmction of time
(b) fixed and irrespective of time
(c) random and irrespective of time.
True North
Aircraft centre tine
11. Magnetic variation depends on:
(a) the location of magnetic north
Next waypoint
(b) the navigation computers memory or destination
(c) where the observer is on the earths

12. Alignment of the inertial navigation system is

(a) at any time in flight
Great circle from last
(b) at any time on the ground waypoint or origin
(c) only when the aircraft is on the ground and
stationary. XTK

13. In attitude mode, the inertial navigation DSRTK

system provides:
(a) pitch and roll information TKE
(b) present position
(c) drift angle. Last waypoinl
or ortgin
14. The angle between the actual track and
desired track is called: Figure 17.20 See Questions 16 and 17
(a) track angle error
(b) heading
(c) drift angle.

15. During the alignment mode, a flashing align

light indicates:
(a) the system is ready to navigate
(b) the aircraft was moved during align mode
(c) the present position entered agrees with
the last known position.

Chapter Global navigation satellite system

Deepak Singh- 19/11/2016

This chapter covers the subject of navigation controlled by a network of stations (the control
using an artificial constellation of satellites. segment).
Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) is a
generic reference for any navigation system based
on satellites; the system in widespread use today 18.2 Principles of wave propagation
is the United States global positioning system
(GPS). Other systems in operation include the The reader will have witnessed the effect of
Russian global navigation satellite system sound wave propagation by observing lightning
GLONASS that was established soon after GPS and thunder during an electrical storm. If the
and the new European system Galileo. Several storm is some distance away, there is a time de
nations are developing new global satellite lay between seeing the lightning flash and then
navigation systems; at the time of writing, GPS is hearing the thunder, see Figure 18.1. This delay
the only fully operational system in widespread is caused by the difference in time taken for the
use throughout the world. For the purposes of light and sound to travel from the lightning to the
explaining the principles and operation of GNSS, observer. The same principle applies when an
in this chapter we will refer to GPS. The chapter electromagnetic wave is transmitted; except that
concludes with a review of augmentation systems the wave is propagated at the speed of light, 3 x
used to increase GPS accuracy, availability and 1O~ mis (in a vacuum).
integrity for aircraft navigation, together with a
brief insight into emerging technologies.

18.1 GPS overview

The US global positioning system (GPS) was
initiated in 1973 and referred to as Navstar
(navigation satellite with timing and ranging).

~ cccccaccccccccc
The system was developed for use by the US
military; the first satellite was launched in 1978
and the flaIl constellation was in place and
operating by 1994.
GPS is now widely available for use by many
applications including aircraft navigation. The Figure 18.1 Delay in Sound waves versus
system comprises a space segment, user segment visible light
and control segment. Twenty-four satellites (the
space segment) in orbit around the earth send
data via radio links that allows aircraft receivers 18.3 Satellite navigation principles
(the user segment) to calculate precise position,
altitude, time and speed on a 24-hour, worldwide, This property of wave propagation can be
all weather basis. The principles of satellite exploited for satellite navigation purposes. In the
navigation are based on radio wave propagation, first instance, we need to know the exact position
precision timing and knowledge of each satellites of a satellite in orbit above the earth. When this
position above the earth; this is all monitored and satellite transmits a radio wave to an observer on
218 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

the earths surface, the time delay between when

the radio signal was transmitted and received /
provides the means of calculating the spherical /
range between the satellite and observer. (Note /

that the term range is used here when defining the

distance from a target object.)
Consider an observer located at a point
somewhere on the earths surface receiving radio
waves from a satellite (Figure 18.2). The range
between the satellite and observer can be (a) Single satellite describes a circle on the earths surface
determined by the principle described above;
however, this same range can occur at any
position described by a circle around the globe.
We can reduce this ambiguity through basic
geometry by taking range measurements from a
second satellite; this will now identi1~ one of two
positions on the earths surface. By using a third
satellite, we can remove all ambiguity and define
our unique two-dimensional position on the
earths surface. Furthermore, a fourth satellite can
be used to determine a three-dimensional
position, i.e. latitude, longitude and altitude.
Accuracy of the system depends on having good
visibility of these satellites to provide angular (b) Two satelliles define two unique positions

measurements. Once the users position has been

calculated, the GPS receiver can derive other Figure 18.2 Satellite ranging to determine
useflul navigation information, e.g. track, ground position
speed and drift angle.

space segment

H8 4 GPS segments
Referring to Figure 18.3, the global positioning
system (GPS) comprises three segments: space,
ground and user. (Note that the GPS is being
updated and modernized with next-generation control segment
satellites, alternative radio frequencies and higher
specifications. The reader is encouraged to refer
to recognised websites and relevant aircraft
documentation for new developments.) Figure 18.3 Global positioning system
18.4.1 Space segment
There are a minimum of 24 (and up to 29)
satellites in use, some are operational and others satellites. Each satellite is installed with four
are used as backups. Each satellite is atomic clocks that are extremely accurate,
approximately 17 feet across (see Figure 18.4) typically maintaining accuracy within three
and weighs approximately 2000 lb. The satellites nanoseconds (3 x io~ seconds) per day. (Four
are in orbit 10,900 nm (approximately 20,200 clocks are installed for backup purposes in the
km) above the earth; this orbit provides optimum event of failure.) The satellites are powered by
ground coverage with the least number of the suns energy via solar panels; nickel cadmium
Global navigation satellite system 219

Satellites also download almanac data; this is a

set of orbital parameters status for all satellites in
the constellation. The receiver uses almanac data
during initial acquisition of satellite signals.
Ephemeris data is also downlinked by each
satellite; this data contains current satellite
position and timing information.

18.4.2 Control segment

The control segment comprises one master
control station (MCS) located at Schriever
(formerly Falcon) Air Force Base in Colorado
Springs, USA; five monitoring stations (located
in Colorado Springs, Hawaii, Kwajalein, Diego
Figure 18.4 Typical navigation satellite Garcia and Ascension Island); and three ground
antennas (located on Ascension Island, Diego
Garcia and Kwajalein). The locations of the
batteries provide electrical power backup. Each monitoring stations provide ground visibility for
satellite orbits the earth twice per day at an each satellite.
inclination angle of 55 with respect to the Although each satellites clock is very
equatorial plane; there are six defined orbits each accurate, the relative timing between satellites
containing four satellites. Figure 18.5 provides an gradually drifts over time. The individual clocks
illustration of these orbital patterns. The net result are monitored and synchronised mathematically
of this orbital pattern is that a minimum of five relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by
satellites should be in view to a receiver located
almost anywhere on the earths surface. Satellites
have a finite operational life, typically five to ten
Key point
Three satellites are required to define a unique
two-dimensional position on the earths surface.
A fourth satellite can be used to determine an
aircrafts altitude.

Key point
The principles of satellite navigation are based on
radio wave propagation, precision timing and
knowledge of each satellites position above the

Test your understanding 18.1

How many satellites need to be in view to be able
to calculate a two-dimensional position on the
Figure 18.5 GPS space segmentsix earths surface?
orbits, each with four satellites 3
220 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

the master station. (UTC is the basis for the

worldwide system of time.)
Each of the monitoring stations tracks all
satellites in view; ranging data and satellite
health information is collected on a continuous Loft GPS ~ntonna
basis. This data is processed at the MCS to I /
establish precise satellite orbits and to update
each satellite with its ephemeris (orbital) data.
Updated data is transmitted to each of the
satellites via one of the ground antennas.

18.4.3 User segment

GPS installed on an aircraft comprises two
receivers and two antennas located in a forward Figure 18.6 Location of GPS antennas
position on the top of the fuselage, see Figure
18.6. Antennas are typically flat devices, 7 x 5 x
0.75 with a single coaxial connector. Satellites
that are less than 5 from the horizon are rejected
as an inherent feature of the antennas design.
Other design features include the ability to reject
signals that are reflected, e.g. from the sea by
rejecting incorrectly polarised signals. The
antennas receive signals directly from whichever
GPS satellites are visible, i.e. within line of sight.
OPS receivers are often incorporated into
multimode receivers (MMR) along with other
radio navigation systems. In this chapter we shall
refer to this item simply as the receiver, Figure 18.7 Pulse coded signals
remembering that different aircraft types will
have different configurations of equipment. The
receiver contains RE filters, a quartz clock (to calculated range is therefore a pseudorange
reduce equipment costs versus atomic clocks) (Figure 18.8), defined as true range the range
and a processor. associated with clock error. (Every microsecond
The receiver and satellite generate identical of clock error represents a range of 300 metres.)
pulse coded signals at precisely the same time Since the individual receivers clock error is the
(Figure 18.7); these signals are compared in the same with respect to any satellite, using four
receiver to provide the basis of time delay (At) satellites defines a precise and unique position as
measurements. When the time delay from the illustrated in Figure 18.9. Note that, since the
satellite has been measured, it is compared with satellites are in the order of 11,000 nm from the
the known position and orbit of the satellite. This receiver, and are all in different orbits, we need to
calculation provides a first line of position know the exact position of each satellite via its
(LOP). Acquiring second and third satellites ephemeris data (transmitted as part of the
provides a unique position as previously message code).
described; however, the receiver needs to take
into account its clock error (bias). Since the
receivers quartz clock is not as accurate as the Test your understanding 18.2
each satellites atomic clock, the clock error
(bias) can be anticipated in the range calculations How many GPS satellites are there and how are
from four satellites. The time bias error means they arranged into orbits?
that the first LOP is not the true range; the
Global navigation satellite system 221

are transmitted so that the effects of refraction

through the ionosphere can be compared between
the two signals, and corrections applied. These
True range carrier frequencies are modulated with complex
digital codes that appear like random electrical
noise; these are called pseudorandom codes and
they are a fundamental part of OPS. There are
Pseudorange three sets of data to be modulated on the LI and
L2 carrier waves:
o Course acquisition (C/A) code
Time bias error
Precise (or protected) P-code
Navigation/system data.
Figure 18.8 Illustration of pseudorange The coarse acquisition (C/A) code is a
pseudorandom string of digital data used
primarily by commercial OPS receivers to
deten~ine the range of the transmitting satellite.
The ~A code modulates the carrier wave at
1.023 MHz and repeats every I ms. The P-code
(not available to civilian users) is modulated on
both the LI and L2 carriers at a frequency of
10.23 MHz. The P-code can be further encrypted
as a Y-code to provide a high level of security for
military users.
Data is exchanged between each satellite and
the monitoring stations via uplink and downlink
frequencies in the S-band (2227.5 and 1783.74
MHz respectively).
Figure 18.9 Pseudorange and position
fixing with four satellites
18.6 GPS operation

Test your understanding 18.3 OPS has various levels of operation depending
on how many satellites are in view. Three
What is the purpose of the control segment? satellites provide a two-dimensional position fix;
four satellites or more is desirable for optimum
navigation performance. The receiver seeks out at
least four satellites by monitoring their signal
Test your understanding 18.4 transmissions; this acquisition process takes
about 15-45 seconds. To speed up the navigation
What is the difference between ephemeris and process, the receiver can obtain an initial position
almanac data?

Key point
18.5 GPSsignals Transmission of GPS position and timing signals
are sent to users in the UHF (L-band) of radar.
Each satellite transmits low power (2050 watt) These frequencies (1575.42 MHz and 1227.6
signals on two carrier frequencies: LI (1575.42 MHZ) are designated Li and L2.
MHz) and L2 (1227.60 MHz). Two carrier waves
222 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

fix from the inertial reference system; this allows between when these signals are transmitted and
the receiver to search for satellites that should be received can be compared, and correction factors
in view. In the event of poor satellite coverage for applied.
defined periods (typically less than 30 seconds) Calculating ranges from the intersection of two
the system uses other navigation sensor inputs to range measurements (whether satellite or ground
enter into a dead reckoning mode. For prolonged navigation aids) requires optimum geometry. If
periods of poor satellite reception, the system re the angle between the two satellites viewed by the
enters the acquisition mode. receiver is acute, this does not provide an
accurate position fix. In satellite navigation, this
18.6.1 Selective availability is referred to as geometric dilution of precision
(GDOP). The closer two satellites are, when
Selective availability (SA) is a feature of GPS viewed from the aircraft, the greater is the GDOP.
that intentionally introduces errors (typically 10 This dilution of precision (DOP) can be broken
meters horizontally, and 30 meters vertically) into down into specific components:
the publicly available Li signals. This is a
political strategy that denies any advantage for PDOP (position DOP based on geometry
hostile forces acting against the USA. The highest only)
GPS accuracy was available (in an encrypted FIDOP (horizontal contribution to PDOP)
form) for the US military, its allies and US VDOP (vertical contribution to DOP)
government users. During the 1990s, a number of TDQP (range equivalent of clock bias).
political factors were mounting in the USA:
Almanac data within the receiver, together with
The shortage of military standard GPS ephemeris data from the satellite, is used to assist
units during the 1990s Gulf War the receiver in acquiring specific satellites for
The widespread availability of civilian optimum geometry.
products The aforementioned errors are all
The FAAs long-term desire to replace unintentional. There is, however, the ongoing
ground navigation aids with OPS. concern of intentional interference known as
spoofing, i.e. the deliberate attempt to disrupt
This led to the decision by US President Bill The Federal Aviation
GPS signals.
Clinton in 2000 allowing all users access to the (FAA) and other authorities are
Ll signal without the intentional errors.
constantly testing the quality of GPS signals and
working on ways to mitigate such threats. There
18.6.2 GPS accuracy, errors and
are several schemes in place or proposed to
augmentation systems improve system accuracy, integrity, and
Navigation errors can arise from poor satellite availability including:
visibility or less than optimum geometry from the
Differential GPS (DGPS) for marine
satellites that are visible. Accuracy of ephemeris
users of GPS, this is maintained by the US
data (i.e. each satellites positional information) is
Coast Guard
flindamental to the accuracy of the system.
* Wide area augmentation system
There are external effects that will affect the
GPS signal, introduce errors and subsequently (WAAS) for aviation users, this is
maintained by the FAA
affect accuracy. Multipath ranging errors can be
caused by reflections of the GPS signals from o Local area augmentation system
mountains and tall buildings. Atmospheric (LAAS) for aviation users, this is
conditions in the ionosphere and troposphere will maintained by the FAA
affect GPS signals, these errors can be predicted European geostationary navigation
to a certain extent and therefore correction factors overlay service (EGNOS): this is a joint
can be built in. The ionosphere will refract the project of the European Space Agency
satellites signals; however, since two frequencies (ESA), the European Commission (BC)
are transmitted (Li and L2), the time difference and Eurocontrol.
Global navigation satellite system 223

All these augmentation systems operate on the oceanic, en route, terminal area or non-precision
principle of numerous ground stations in known approach. In addition to position calculations,
geographical positions receiving GPS signals. GPS can provide derived navigation data:
Correction signals are then sent to users in a
variety of ways. The wide area augmentation Track (from taking several position fixes)
system (WAAS) was developed specifically for Ground speed (from calculating the
aviation users and is intended to enable GPS to be distance between fixes over a period of
used in airspace that requires high integrity, time)
availability and accuracy. WAAS improves a Drift angle (from the difference between
GPS signal accuracy of 20 metres to heading and track).
approximately 1.5 metres (typical) in both the Global navigation systems for general aviation
horizontal and vertical dimensions. WAAS is are often integrated with ILSVOR and VHF
based on a network of reference stations around communication systems, see Figure 18.10. This
the world that monitors OPS signals and is a self-contained panel mounted device. Text is
compares them against the known position of the displayed on the screen for selected frequencies,
reference stations. These reference stations distances, bearings etc. Graphics are used to
collect, process and transmit this data to a master provide a multi-function type display, e.g. for
station. Updated data is then sent from the master navigation references, weather and traffic
station via an uplink transmitter to one of two warnings (see Chapters 20 and 22).
geostationary satellites; the aircraft receiver
compares this with GPS data and messages are
sent to the crew if the GPS signal is unreliable. Table 18.1 Classification of GPS integration
A further development of GPS augmentation
for aircraft is the local area augmentation Class Integration capability
system (LAAS). This facility is located at
A GPS sensor and navigation capability
specific airports and is intended to provide (including RAIM)
accuracy of less than one meter. Receiver stations
are located in the local airport vicinity and these B Data sent to an integrated area navigation
transmit integrity messages to the aircraft via system, e.g. flight management system
VHF data links (VDL). The intention is for
C Output guidance sent to an autopilot or flight
augmented GPS to gradually replace ground- director
based navigation aids, ultimately leading to
global navigation satellite landing system (GLS)
to replace the instrument landing system (ILS) for
precision approaches and landings.
18.7 Other GNSS
The GPS navigation receiver can also be
The Russian global navigation satellite system
installed with error detection software known as
(GLONASS) features 24 satellites orbiting at a
receiver autonomous integrity monitoring lower altitude of 19,100 1cm in three orbital
(RAIM). Monitoring is achieved by comparing planes, three satellites are in orbit as spares The
the range estimates made from five satellites. In
Russian defence organization owns the system
addition to this, failed satellite(s) can be excluded and civilian usage is managed by the Russian
from the range estimates by comparing the data
Space Agency. At the time of writing there is
from six satellites. This technique is called fault
limited take-up of GLONASS outside of Russia
detection and exclusion (FDE).
for civilian applications compared with the
worldwide acceptance and usage of GPS Several
18.6.3 GPS airborne equipment
satellites have exceeded their design life thereby
GPS can be used in isolation, or with other reducing system capability, these are being
airborne systems to provide differing levels of replaced on a progressive basis
operation. Referring to Table 18.1, the level of Galileo is a European system that is intended
integration determines if the GPS can be used for to be compatible with, but more advanced than,
224 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

GPS or GLONASS. The system is based on 30 (remember that GPS was originally established as
satellites in a higher (23,000 kin) orbit; the a military asset).
satellites form three orbital planes each Another aspect to consider is the industrial
comprising 10 satellites. With this higher orbit is advantage that comes with satellite technology;
an increased time to circle the earth; 14 hours. the mass market is hungry for hand-held GPS
The ground system comprises two control receivers and in-car satellite navigation systems.
centres, five monitoring and control stations and Finally, from the commercial aircraft viewpoint,
five uplink stations. The system is planned to be if there are numerous systems in place, there is
in operation during 2008. The European the added complication of what equipment will
geostationary navigation overlay service be approved in each and every nation. The
(EGNOS) is the first phase of Galileo. EGNOS political and economic aspects of these factors are
utilises a network of ground stations and three beyond the scope of this book; however, the
geostationary satellites to provide increased reader is encouraged to monitor events through
accuracy, integrity and reliability of any global the press and other media.
satellite navigation system.
In addition to these systems, Japan is planning
its own satellite navigation system; other nations Test your understanding 18.5
are either joining or forming partnerships. Some
novel ideas include optimising orbits such that the How does WMS increase GPS integrity,
satellite(s) remain visible over certain areas of the availability and accuracy?
globe for longer periods to obtain maximum
usage. Estimates vary, but it is conceivable that
over 100 navigation satellites could be in orbit
over the next 20 years.
Since the two original global navigation
188 The future of GNSS
systems were established, there remains a Given the above, the long-term intention of the
political debate about the deployment of aviation community is to rationalise the air traffic
additional systems. This debate is thelled by a management through increased use of GNSS; this
number of factors, e.g. national security aspects will be realised with the various augmentation
systems discussed in this chapter and no doubt
the additional satellite constellations.
There are programmes in place in the USA to
eventually replace ground-based radio navigation
aids including non-directional beacons (ADF) and
en route navigation aids (VOR). DME navigation
aids will be retained for a longer period, with the
possibility of relocating some of these facilities.
Automatic approach and landing trials are under
way using satellite derived navigation references.
It is clear that any GNSS is vulnerable to
disruption; this can be either a deliberate attempt
to interfere with the transmissions, or as a result
of atmospheric conditions. With increased
dependence on GNSS, the impact of any
disruption is significant. The solution to this is to
have an alternative navigation system working
alongside GPS as a back-up, e.g. DMEDME,
inertial navigation systems, or eLoran. All of
these systems are described elsewhere in this
Figure 18.10 Integrated GPS control panels book. Operators also have the flexibility offered
Global navigation satellite system 225

by area navigation, i.e. using a combination of 6. To speed up the satellite acquisition process,
satellite navigation and other navigation sensors the aircraft receiver can obtain an initial
(see Chapter 16). The reader is encouraged to position fix from the:
read the industry press and monitor developments (a) flight management system
of this subject. (b) internal clock
(c) inertial reference system.

7. The deliberate attempt to disrupt OPS signals

Key point is known as:
(a) spoofing
In the event of poor satellite coverage, the (b) selective availability
aircrafts navigation system automatically selects (c) satellite acquisition.
other navigation sensors and enters into a dead
reckoning mode.
8. Fault detection is achieved by comparing the
position calculations made from how many
(a) Five
18.9 Multiple choice questions (b) Four
(c) Six.
I. Ephemeris data refers to the satellites:
(a) orbital position 9. The GPS navigation concept is based upon
(b) current status calculating satellite:
(c) frequency of radio transmission. (a) speed
(b) altitude
2. GPS accuracy and integrity for en route (c) range.
operation can be increased by:
(a) local area augmentation system (LAAS) 10. Multi-path reflections of GPS signals are
(b) wide area augmentation system (WAAS) caused by:
(c) differential OPS (DOPS). (a) mountains and tall buildings
(b) atmospheric conditions
3. The GPS orbital pattern is such that a (c) poor satellite visibility.
minimum of how many satellites should be in
view to a receiver? II. The local area augmentation system (LAAS)
(a) Five provides integrity messages to the aircraft via:
(b)Four (a) geostationary satellites
(c) Three. (b) VHF data links
(c) the GPS satellites.
4. Selective availability is a feature of GPS that:
(a) applies correction factors to known causes 12. How many GPS satellites need to be in view
of error to be able to define a unique two-dimensional
(b) intentionally introduces errors position on the earths surface?
(c) determines which users can receive (a) Two
signals. (b) Three
(c) One.
5. In the event of poor satellite coverage, the
system: 13. Failed satellite(s) can be excluded from the
(a) automatically selects other navigation navigation calculations by comparing the data
sensors and enters into a dead reckoning from how many satellites?
mode (a) Four
(b) continues using the same satellites (b) Five
(c) automatically selects other satellites. (c) Six.
226 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

14. During prolonged periods of poor satellite

reception, the aircraft receiver:
(a) enters into a dead reckoning mode
(b) re-enters the acquisition mode
(c) rejects all satellite signals.

15. In the diagram shown inFigure 18.11, which

feature represents the control segment?
(b) B
(c) C.
Figure 18.11 See Question 15
16. In the diagram shown in Figure 18.12,X
(a) the actual range
(b) the pseudorange
(c) the distance error. /

True range /
17. OPS satellites occupy orbits at a typical
altitude of:
(a) 20,000 km
(b) 120,000 km x
(c) 200,000 km.

i 8. GPS transmissions are in the:

(a) C-band Time bias error
(b) L-band
(c) X-band.
Figure 18,12 See Question 16
Chapter Flight management systems

The term navigation can be applied in both the and time. The cost of fuel is self-evident; the cost
lateral and vertical senses for aircraft of time includes aircraft utilisation, e.g. if the
applications. Lateral navigation (LNAV) is aircraft is being leased on a cost per flying hour
effectively the area navigation function described basis. Reducing aircraft speed will decrease fuel
in Chapter 16. Vertical navigation (VNAV) is burn, but this leads to a longer flight time and
concerned with optimising the performance of the increased cost of time. Flying faster will reduce
aircraft to reduce operating costs. This has been the cost of time but increase fuel bum.
traditionally achieved by the flight crew Four-dimensional navigation is possible with
(particularly the flight engineer) making reference flight management systems. The aircrafts
to data contained within charts, tables and latitude, longitude, altitude and arrival time
performance manuals. requirements can be planned, calculated and
Aircraft performance data is based on a number subsequently predicted on an ongoing basis. Each
of factors including aircraft weight, altitude and airline will have its own financial model in terms
outside air temperature. Since these factors are of fuel and time costs; the FMS can be
constantly changing, the task of calculating customised accordingly and expressed as a cost-
optimum engine thrust limith, aircraft speed and index; this is entered into system within the
altitude has gradually been automated with the range 0100 to represent the extremes of
advent of performance management systems. minimum fuel through to minimum time. In order
During the 1980s, lateral navigation and to perform the key functions of area navigation
performance management functions were and performance management, the system
combined into a single system known as the flight interfaces with many other systems on the
management system (FMS). Various tasks aircraft.
previously performed by the crew can now be Flight management systems were the first
automated with the intention of reducing crew examples of integrated multi-mode avionics. On
workload. In this chapter we will review the transport category aircraft, the FMS integrates
principles of flight management systems and many systems inclijding radio navigation
explore some the key features and benefits. systems, inertial navigation systems, global
positioning systems, and centralised maintenance
19.1 FMS overview
The flight management system (FMS) combines
19.2 Flight management computer
area navigation and performance management system (FMCS)
into a single system. The two primary
The two primary components of the system are
components of the system are the flight
the FMC and CDU; these are a subset of the FMS
management computer (FMC) and control display
referred to as the flight management computer
unit (CDU). Primary aircraft interfaces with the
system (FMCS).
FMC are the inertial reference system and
automatic flight control system, including the
19.2.1 Flight management computer
autothrottle. Flight management systems were
introduced at a time of rising operating costs; the The FMC contains an operational program,
contributing factors to these costs include fuel navigation database and performance database.
228 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

We have already come across the navigation FMC part number can be installed with software
database (NDB) in Chapter 16. The FMCs covering a number of aircraft and engine types in
navigation database (see Table 19.1) is a the PDB. The FMC (like most avionic computers)
comprehensive version of what has already been is installed in the equipment rack and connects to
discussed in area navigation systems. The the wiring looms via pins/sockets at the rear of
performance database (PDB) contains a detailed the computer.
model of the aircrafts aerodynamic Program pins are used to select various
characteristics. This includes the aircrafts speed software options within the computer; these are
and altitude capabilities together with operating connections that are made to the connector either
limits for both normal operation and abnormal to ground, 28 V DC power supply or not
conditions, e.g. engine failure. Engine parameters connected. Logic circuits inside the computer are
are also stored in the PDB, these include fuel thereby set into predetermined configurations
flow and thrust models for the type of engine depending on how the program pins are
installed on the aircraft. Note that aircraft can be configured. For example, a program pin could be
certified to fly with more than one engine type; connected to ground for one engine type, and set
these are all stored in the PDB. to 28 V DC for another engine type. When the
An important feature of the FMC are the FMC is installed, it effectively recognises which
program pins. Rather than producing many engine type is installed and the relevant engine
different FMC software configurations for each software is used. The same FMC installed on
aircraft type and each engine combination, one another aircraft with different engine type will
recognise this via the program pin(s) and utilise
the relevant engine software.
Certain functions are fixed and cannot be
Table 19.1 Navigation database changed, e.g. the aircraft type/model. Other
program pins are airline options; examples of
Content Details these options are the use of metric or imperial
units, e.g. Centigrade or Fahrenheit, pounds
Radio navigation VOR, DME, VORTAC, ADF (xl000) or kilograms (4000).
aids identification codes, frequencies,
locations, elevations 19.2.2 Control display unit
Waypoints Names and locations, pre-planned The CDU is the primary interface between the
within company routes crew and FMC. It is designed such that data entry
and displays are in the language used by ATC.
Airports and Locations, ILS frequencies, The location of a CDU on a typical transport
runways runway identifiers, lengths
Standard Published departure procedures
instrument including altitude restrictions
departures (SIDs)
Stsndsrd terminal Published arrival procedures
arrivsl routes including altitude restrictions
En route airways Nsvigation aid references,
bearings, distance between
navigation aids
Holding patterns Fix point, inbound course, turn
Company routes A combination of all the above, as Figure 19.1 Location of FMCS control and
specified by the airline display unit
Flight management systems 229

Five inch CRT with

Ambient light sensor
14 lines x 24 character lines

Line select keys

Scratch pad

Function and
mode keys
I } Line select keys

NA CRT brightness
RAD adjustment

Annunciators .-
0 00 . Annunciators

0 00 ETh1E1L~1L1
0 00

Numeric keys Alphabetic keys

Figure 19.2 Location of FMCS control and display unit

aircraft is shown in Figure 19.1. The CDU >>\

comprises a variety of features, referring to
Figure 19.2 these include the:
o data display area (typically a cathode ray
line-select keys (LSK)
o function and mode keys
alpha-numeric key pad
o warning annunciators.
The display area is arranged in the form of
chapters and pages of a book. When the system is
first powered up, the CDU displays the IDENT
page, see Figure 19.3.
The IDENT page contains basic information
as stored in the FMC including aircraft model,
engine types etc. Other pages are accessed from
this page on a menu basis using the line-select
keys, or directly from one of the fUnction or mode Figure 19.3 IDENT page displayed on
select keys. System power-up
230 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

19.3 System initialisation initialisation, displays the P05 INIT page, see
Figure 19.4. The information needed at this point
Before the system can be used for lateral and (indicated by box prompts) is present position for
vertical navigation, the FMC needs some basic inertial reference system (IRS) alignment.
initialisation data Certain information required Position can be entered in a number of ways, but
by the system has to be entered by the crew, lets assume at this point that we want to load
other information is stored as a default and can present position by manually keying in latitude
be overwritten by the crew To simplify the and longitude. Using the alphanumeric keys,
process, information to be entered by the crew is latitude and longitude are entered via the key pad,
displayed in box prompts Information displayed entries appear in the bottom of the display
as default information is displayed as dash (referred to as the scratch pad). When this data is
prompts There are a number of ways that confirmed in the scratch pad, LSK-4R (adjacent
individual pages can be accessed, and there is a to the position boxes) is pressed and the scratch
variety of information on each page The pad data replaces the Set IRS position boxes.
description below illustrates an initialisation Present position is automatically transferred to
procedure, starting with position initialisation the IRS and the next stage of initialisation is
through to performance initialisation, following prompted by LSK-6R; this leads to the next
a logical process During this initialisation section of initialisation for the desired ROUTE.
description, we will be making ieference to
fields, these are specific areas on the CDU screen
where data is either displayed and/or entered In
the following text, each line-select key (LSK)
will be referred to by its location left/right of the P05 TNIT 1/2
LA5T P03
display and 16 from top to bottom N4038.0 W07346.4
19.3.1 Position initialisation GATE
When the system is powered up, the IDENT page SET IRS POS 8
is displayed, see Figure 194 (more details about crum.c DIE9:D.D 8
this page are provided after this section) Pressing 1432.2z 8
LSK-6R, identified P05 INIT for position <INDEX ROUTE> 8


XX68201 001
MARl SAPR1 7/07
Figure 19.5
NIT) page
Position initialisation (P08

8 APR1 8MAY1 7/07 19.3.2 Route selection

8 PS 4038178XXX The ROUTE page requires that an origin and
8 destination be entered; these are entered (via the
+1 .1 3.5
scratch pad) to replace the box prompts adjacent
8 <INDEX P05 INIT> to LSK-lL (origin) and LSK-1R (destination), see
figure 19.6(a). Origins and destinations are
identified using the International Civil Aviation
Organisation (ICAO) four-letter codes, e.g.
London Heathrow is EGLL, New York Kennedy
Figure 19.4 IDENT pagethe system is international airport is coded KJFK. This system
prompting the selection of position is used in preference to the International Air
initialisation (P08 INIT on LSK-6R) Transport Association (IATA) thee-letter codes,
Flight management systems 231

9 I EA012
B 22L


(a) Route page origin and destination entered

Runway, first waypoint (CYN) KJFK

and airway (J37) to second
waypoint (P5K)


(b) Route page departure details

Figure 19.6 Route page details

e.g. LHR and JFK, since some of these three- right field changes to PERF INIT for
letter Codes are duplicated for some airfields. performance initialisation.
Note that most airlines have predetermined
company routes, these are stored in the navigation 19.3.3 Performance initialisation
database and can be entered (as a Code) via LSK
2L. There may be more than one route between The system requires gross weight (OW) or zero
the origin and destination; when the company fuel weight (ZFW), reserve fuel, cost index and
route code is entered into an appropriate field, cruise altitude. Required entries are indicated as
this will automatically enter the- drigin and before with box prompts, see Figure 19.7. Note
destination together with all en route waypoints. that since the total fuel onboard (52.3 tonnes in
Specific departure details, e.g. runway and initial this example) is known by the FMC (via an input
departure fix, can also be contained within the from the fuel quantity system) entering ZFW will
company route as illustrated in Figure 19.6(b). automatically calculate OW and vice versa. Cost
Once the route is activated (LSK-6R), the bottom index can be entered manually, or it may be
232 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

contained within the company route. All other

Key point
entries on the page are optional; entry of data in
these fields will enhance system performance. The FMS comprises the following subsystems:
Once the performance initialisation details are FMCS, AFCS and IRS.
confirmed, the system is ready for operation.
Further refinement of the flight profile can be
made by entering other details, e.g. take-off
settings, standard instrument departures, wind
forecasts etc. Key point
The page automatically displayed upon FMC
power-up is the identification page; this confirms
that the FMC has passed a sequence of self-tests.
[1)10 [[LEE] 8
8 52.3 8 Key point
8 wig ---Dc 8
RESERVES TIC OAT Required entries into the CDU are indicated by
El box prompts; optional entries are indicated by
EEl tIll 18000 8] dashed line prompts.

Key point
To define the destination airport on the FMC route
Figure 19.7 Performance initialisation page requires entry of the airfields four-character
(PERF NIT) page identifier.

19.4 FMCS operation

The flight management computer system have already noticed that in the top right of each
(FMCS) calculates key perfornrnnce data and CDU page is an indication of how many sub-
makes predictions for optimum operation of the pages are available per selected function.
aircraft based on the cost-index. We have already
reviewed the system initialisation process, and
19.4.1 Identification page (IOENT)
this will have given the reader an appreciation of
how data is entered and displayed. The detailed This page is automatically displayed upon power-
operation of a flight management system is up; aside from displaying a familiar page each
beyond the scope of this book; however, the key time the system is used, this also serves as
features and benefits of the system will be confirmation that the FMC has passed a sequence
reviewed via some typical CDU pages. Note that of built-in test equipment (BITE) self-tests
these are described in general terms; aircraft including: memory device checks, interface
types vary and updated systems are introduced on checks, program pin configuration, power
a periodic basis. CDU pages can be accessed at supplies, software configurations and
any time as required by the crew; some pages can microprocessor operation. Information displayed
be accessed via the line-select keys as described on this page includes aircraft and engine types,
in section 19.3; some pages are accessed via navigation database references and the
fhnctionlmode keys. The observant reader may operational program number. By reference to the
Right management systems 233

relevant aircraft documentation, one FMC part information is contained in the NDB as detailed
number could be fitted to a number of different in Table 19.1; note that this is an indicative list
aircraft types. Each aircraft type will have since databases are usually customised for
different aerodynamic characteristics and these individual airlines. The synergy of integrated
differences will be stored in the FMCs memory. avionic systems can be demonstrated by FMC
The FMC recognises specific aircraft types by database information also being displayed on the
program pins contained within the aircraft EHSI (Figure 19.9 is displaying a number of
connector, see Figure 19.8. Given aircraft types airports contained in the database).
can be operated with different engine models;
these are recognised by using specific program 19.4.2 Progress page
pins. Furthermore, airlines have the option on the
There are many pages available to the crew for
units used within the system, e.g. temperature in
managing and modifying data required by the
Centigrade or Fahrenheit, weights in kilograms or
system depending on circumstances. One of the
pounds etc. These are also determined by
pages used to monitor key flight information is
program pins.
the progress page, see Figure 19.10. By
The navigation database (NDB) is identified by
describing the information on the progress pages,
when it becomes effective, and when it expires.
the reader will gain an appreciation of the features
Referring to Figure 19.4, the active (current)
and benefits of the flight management computer
database is adjacent to LSK-2R. The updated
database is adjacent to LSK-3R; this is selected
The progress page can be accessed via the
on the changeover date (April 18 in this
PROG key on the CDU. There are no entries
illustration). A comprehensive range of
required on this page; it is used for information
only. The top line of the page displays details for
the previous waypoint (CYN) in the active flight
plan; name, altitude, actual time of arrival and
fuel. The next three lines display details for the
active waypoint (ENO), next waypoint (GVE)
and final destination (KATL). Details include:

Figure 19.8 Program pins located in the Figure 19.9 Airports within the navigation
computers connector database displayed on the EHSI
234 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Table 19.2 Typical CDU pages

Page title Full title Purpose of page

IDENT Identification Verifies aircraft model, active database, operational program number, engine type(s)
P05 INIT Position Present position required by entehng data using one of three methods: laUtudellongitude
initialisation coordinates via the keypad, line selection of last position, line selection of departure gate
RTE Route Entry of route details, either by company route code, or manual construction
CLB climb Selection of desired climb mode, e.g. economy, maximum rate, maximum angle, selected
speed, engine out
CRZ Cruise Selection of desired cruise mode, e.g. economy, long-range cruise, engine out, selected
DES Descent Selection of desired descent mode, e.g. economy, selected speed
DIR INTO Direct intercept Used to select a waypoint that will be flown directly towards from the present position
RTE LEGS Route legs Used for confirming and modifying en route details, e.g. waypoint identification, course and
distance to waypoints, speed and altitude constraints (see Figure i9.i I)
DEP ARR DeparturelArrival Provides access to the navigation database for ohgin or destination SIDS, STARS and
specific runways
RTE HOLD Holding pattern Review or revision of holding pattern details, e.g. fix point, turn direction, inbound course, leg
time and target speed
PROG Progress In-flight status of progress along route (see separate notes provided)
Ni LIMIT Ni limit The Ni limit is automatically selected and controlled by the FMC. This page provides a range
of manually selected Ni limit options including go-around, maximum continuous, climb and
FIX INFO Fix Used to create fix points on the current flight leg from known waypoints using radials and
distances from the waypoint

distance to go (DTG), estimated time of arrival vertical track (VTK) error, true airspeed (TAS),
(ETA) and predicted fuel. The fifth line gives static air temperature (SAT) and various fuel
selected speed, predicted time and distance to an quantity indications.
altitude change point, e.g. top of climb (TIC) as
illustrated in Figure 19.10. The last line of the
19.4.3 Legs page
page is providing navigation source information.
In this case, the FMC selected inertial reference Figure 19.11 provides an illustration of how en
system (number 3) is being updated by two DME route lateral and vertical profiles are integrated
navigation aids ENO and MLC; these are being within the FMC. In this example, the aircraft is
tuned manually and automatically as indicted by flying towards waypoint CYN on a track of3l2.
the letters M and A next to the navigation aid There is an altitude constraint of 6000 feet over
identifier. CYN, climb speed is 250 knots. This combined
The second progress page contains a variety of lateral and vertical profile is depicted by the
useful information, e.g. wind speed and direction tracks, distances, speeds and altitudes for each
(displayed with associated head, tail and cross waypoint. This level of detail also applies for
wind components), cross track (XTK) error, standard instrument departures (SIDs) and
Flight management systems 235


8 111 FL244 13322 45.8 8 8 CYN 250/ 6000
320* 271111
END 61 1355z 43.8 8 END 320/10500 8
8 8 249 581111
HEX T OTT .80/FL238
8 GVE 192 14hz 40.0 8 8 249 71 1411
bEST GVE .80/ FL350
8 KATL 606 1518z 12.7 8 8 252 1181111
8 P5K .80/ FL350 8
8 .780