Navigation Systems


Understanding navigation systems.


This is the required reading for this lesson. Numbers in [brackets] indicate the starting and ending page in the referenced reading material. Read all the pages and sections referenced.


The notes below highlight the important parts in the referenced material. Reading the notes without having read the actual referenced material is generally not sufficient to pass the written exam!

  • Nondirectional Radio Beacon (NDB)
    • Transmits on
      • 190 to 535 kHz
      • 550 to 1650 kHz - same as AM radio stations (not to be used for navigation)
    • Identify station using Morse code
    • Automated Direction Finder (ADF)
      • Points TO the NDB
      • Fixed-card indicator
      • Movable-card indicator
      • Radio magnetic indicator (RMI)
    • Homing
      • Flying the aircraft on any heading required to keep the needle pointing directly to the NDB
    • Tracking
      • Uses a heading that maintains the desired track to or from the station regardless of crosswind conditions
  • Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR)
    • Transmits on
      • 108.0 to 117.95 MHz
    • Identify station using Morse code
    • Omnibearing Selector (OBS)
      • Selects the desired course
    • Course Deviation Indicator (CDI)
      • The needle centers when the aircraft is on the selected radial or its reciprocal.
      • Full needle deflection from the center position to either side of the dial indicates the aircraft is 12° or more off course
    • TO/FROM Indicator
      • Shows whether the selected course, if intercepted and flown, takes the aircraft TO or FROM the station.
      • It does not indicate whether the aircraft is heading to or from the station.
    • Orientation
      • The VOR does not account for the aircraft heading.
      • It only relays the aircraft direction from the station and has the same indications regardless of which way the nose is pointing.
  • Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)
    • Used for determining the distance from a ground DME transmitter.
    • Transmits on
      • 962 MHz and 1213 MHz
    • Using a receiver it is possible to determine
      • Distance
      • Ground speed
      • Time to station
    • Some DME receivers correct for slant-range errors
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
    • Satellite-based radio navigation system.
    • The GPS receiver verifies the integrity (usability) of the signals received from the GPS constellation through receiver autonomous integrity monitoring (RAIM) to determine if a satellite is providing corrupted information
    • VFR Waypoints
      • Navigational aids for pilots unfamiliar with an area
      • Waypoint definition of existing reporting points
      • Enhanced navigation in and around Class B and Class C airspace
      • Enhanced navigation around Special Use Airspace.
    • VFR pilots should never rely solely on one system of navigation.
      • GPS navigation must be integrated with other forms of electronic navigation, as well as pilotage and dead reckoning.

Sim Pilot Notes

These notes highlight the differences between simulator and real-world flying. These differences are most often due to simulator limitations or specific VATSIM rules.

  • Although most simulator aircraft have a working GPS, care must be taken during a VFR flight to ensure that the nav database is current before entering any navigation waypoints

Tomas Hansson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Chief Flight Instructor, VATSTAR
DISCLAIMER: all information contained herein is for flight simulation purposes only.
March 2021

Click to listen highlighted text! Powered By GSpeech