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Relative Navigation Systems

These systems allow an aircraft to determine its

position relative to a ground-based station (usually
called a facility)
Most provide a bearing to (or from) the facility
They are almost always used as intermediate
points enroute
Thus the aircraft is usually flying directly toward
or away from the facility
Relative Navigation Systems

Airway Structure between Ottawa and Toronto

Examples of Relative Navigation
Nondirectional Beacon/Automatic Direction
Finder (NDB/ADF)
VOR (VHF Omnirange)
TACAN (Tactical Air Navigation)
DME (Distance Measuring Equipment)
Nondirectional Beacon
The oldest (and simplest) navigation system
in general use a simple transmitter
radiating in an omidirectional radiation
Frequency of Operation: 200 to 500 kHz
Power: 20 W to several kW
Modulation: 1020Hz tone + Morse Code
Propagation: Ground Wave
Automatic Direction Finder (ADF)
The airborne part of the system is the ADF
Its purpose is to provide the pilot with a
relative bearing from the aircraft to the
This is done using the directional property
of a loop antenna
ADF (1)
The loop antenna is mounted so that it can rotate
about the vertical axis and its orientation is
controlled by a servomotor
The antenna is rotated until the receiver detects the
null after which the null is tracked
The relative angle of the antenna is transmitted to
the cockpit via a synchro system
ADF Antenna Patterns

ADF Bearing Indicator


Old ADF Antenna Installation

ADF (2)
The rotating loop antenna installation is
large and causes excess drag and icing
It is also mechanical which reduces its
Thus most modern ADF systems use a
crossed loop system
Crossed Loop ADF
A ferrite loop antenna consist of a bar of
ferrite material about which is wound many
turns of fine wire
The ferrite concentrates the RF magnetic
field and allows a sensitive antenna to be
constructed in a small space.
Crossed Loop ADF
Crossed Loop ADF
ADF Advantages
Available (over 500 installed in Canada)
ADF Disadvantages
Only Relative Bearing Available
Difficult to Automate
Susceptible to Low Frequency propagation
effects. (skip, refraction, sky wave
ADF as a Navigation System
Accuracy: 4.5 degrees

Availability: 99.9%+

Integrity: Receiver monitors RF level

flag on indicator shows if
level drops too low.