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Navigation in the Air: Pilot’s GPS Systems

Pilot’s GPS Systems

Air navigation is accomplished by a wide variety of methods. The method that a pilot uses for navigation for airspace systems will depend on the kind of flight that will take place, which navigation system is installed and which system is available in a certain area.

Radio Navigation

With an aircraft equipped with radio navigation aids, pilots are able to navigate more accurately than with only dead reckoning alone. Radio NAVAIDS are useful in low visibility circumstances and perform as a suitable back-up method for general aviation pilots that favor dead reckoning.

Instead of flying from one point to another, pilots are able to fly a straight line to an airport. There are several types of radio NAVAIDS that are used in aviation.


The global positioning system has become a valuable method of navigation in the modern aviation stage. GPS has proven to be extremely reliable and precise, and probably the most used NAVAID in use today.

The global positioning system utilizes twenty-four U.S satellites in order to provide precise location data, for example, the aircraft position, speed, track and to pilots. The GPS uses triangulation to control the aircrafts exact position in the air. To be correct, a GPS system is required to have the ability to gather data from three satellites for 2D positioning and four satellites for 3D positioning.

GPS has become a favored method of navigation due to the ease of use and accuracy. Though there are common errors, they are rare. These systems can be used anywhere in the world.

Practical Use of NAVAIDS

Pilots fly under VFR (visual flight rules) or IFR (instrument flight rules), depending on the weather conditions. Throughout VMC (visual meteorological conditions), a pilot may fly by using a dead reckoning and pilotage alone, or he may use radio navigation or GPS techniques.


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