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Fox-Bat

Visual vs GPS navigation for private GA flying?

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I was wondering how do real world private GA pilots fly? Are GPS now common/standard on all small privately owned GA planes?

 

 

My sim flying is almost exclusively small GA in desolate areas outside of air corridors - in FSX I often fly by visual landmarks and maps? Is this an antiquated method of navigation?

 

 

It does keep me occupied and makes flights eventful but is it actually common these days? Or Is GPS flying the actual as real as it gets?

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Currently, (here at least) GPS aren't standard on private aircraft. At the Royal Aero Club of WA, only a handful of the aircraft (they have about 30 total) are equipped with a GPS.

 

They teach map and visual landmark naviagtion for PPL training. Their reasoning for this is that having a GPS is all well and good, until it fails, so you still need to know how to do the basic naviagiton.

 

So yes, GPS flying is "as real as it gets", but for the most part, its still all done with visual and maps.

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I was wondering how do real world private GA pilots fly? Are GPS now common/standard on all small privately owned GA planes?

 

 

Well, there are a few dinosaurs like me left who absolutely hates GPS and thinks the mere presence of one in the plane takes away a big part of the fun of flying, but most GA pilots these days use them 99% of the time I think, at least in this country.

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In MY neck of the woods (Long Island,NY) if you haven't filed an IFR plan your GPS is mostly going to be used for visual reference only. There's just too much air traffic and controlled space to be able to fly direct via GPS under VFR rules.

 

I think "IFR" is probably a dirty word for alot of GA flyers (unless they're CFI or trying to stay IFR proficient)

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I think "IFR" is probably a dirty word for alot of GA flyers (unless they're CFI or trying to stay IFR proficient)

 

Sure VFR is more fun and I normally don't set off unless it's VMC but personally I think an instrument rating is good a way to improve your chances of getting home as planned. Here in Sweden the summer weather is generally rather unstable so an IR can help a lot, and you don't need GPS for that either. :-)

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For VFR flights I prefer not to use GPS, it's more fun in that way, and I feel it's safer because my eyes are "out" all of time. Of course, my garmin is packed in flight bag so it can be used anytime I need it.

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A portable garmin is quite a common tool in pilot handbags. Throw it up on the glare shield and it's there if you need it. Nothing wrong with using it at all. Using all of your available tools and skills is part of staying safe in the air. There is no harm in using your VOR or ADF instruments as well if equipped, to help you navigate VFR. Makes it easier to know where you are in case something goes wrong.

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Where I work traffic in the Midwest, flying IFR GPS direct is extremely common for light aircraft.

 

I think for VFR though, many are still using sectional charts and using GPS for backup. Though some are using Foreflight with moving map.

 

When I was flying actively (2002-2005) our planes had dual 430's but I remember navigating with sectional and E6B 99% of the time.

 

In flightsim sometimes I just punch the destination into the garmin but sometimes I follow the charts.

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For VFR flights I prefer not to use GPS, it's more fun in that way, and I feel it's safer because my eyes are "out" all of time. Of course, my garmin is packed in flight bag so it can be used anytime I need it.

 

Exactly what I do. Flight plan is in the GPS and ready to go, but I primarily use a map and my eyes. Of course, my trusty VOR's help out with the NAV too, especially in PFJ where I have been flying a lot lately. It all kind of looks the same away from the cities, so I do use a GPS for reference sometimes up there.

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Here in Central Illinois Pilots are trained to use Pilotage/DED Reckoning with E6B and Charts. A Portable Garmin in the Flight Bag is used only after receiving a Pilots Certificate.

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there are a few dinosaurs like me left who absolutely hates GPS

 

Old analogue dinosaur here also who flies by steam gauges, pilotage, and GPS.  I welcome the cross-reference to my visual nav skills and also the convenience of a "nearest" feature in emergencies.  It's just another useful tool in your toolbox.  Before GPS and Loran, I've seen "instrument" rated pilots become too dependent on radio nav and lose their pilotage skills as well.

 

The danger is when you let your pilotage skills atrophy and your electronic whiz goes out, then what do you have to fall back on? 

 

Slim

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I  think now days the electric wiz going out is less of a problem than in the old days when a vor/adf went out/single engine alternator/electrical failure and was at best backed up by one instrument. Now days most have ipads, iphones, dual gps, along with the rusted out vors for backup. Way back in the 90's I used a portable gps to save my bacon (apollo 920) when my altimeter broke in ifr conditions above hostile mountains-after that I always had multiple devices with their own power sources for backup.

 

Fact is in the GA ifr world today you are pretty much expected to have an ifr gps-if you don't you can kinda clog up the whole system-especially in busy airspace. In the 90's before I had a certified one I would always put "non certified portable gps" in the remarks section of my flight plan. This enabled the controller to issue clearances such as "maintain heading of 167 degrees until Richmond vor" with a "wink".

 

Now days the airspace can be so complex if you are in an area with Class B airspace imho you are crazy not to have a gps even if flying visually . Imho xm feed can be just as important for unexpected tfr's that may pop up even in flight. Wasn't that way in 1989 when I started and I used to do lots of flights by pilotage only. It is a different world/system now.

 

One thing else-I can't remember the exact statistics-but the majority of flights in the US are GA-not commercial, and many of them are in the ifr system-just check the numbers on flightaware daily. I don't know anyone who flys the ifr system without a certified Gps in the panel. 

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In the UK, the CAA states "GPS must not be relied upon as a sole navigation reference in flight-critical applications" and the "GPS system should NEVER be used in isolation".

 

 

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In the beginning I was taught pilotage/DED reckoning. I upgraded to a GNS 430 towards the end of my training/cross country flying. I'll have my route programed in, mostly for groundspeed, time, and distance estimates. At the end of they day I find GPS adds to my situational awareness, but you'll never catch me without a current sectional open, marked up with waypoints (and of course the flight plan I worked out before getting to the airport!). 

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In the UK, the CAA states "GPS must not be relied upon as a sole navigation reference in flight-critical applications" and the "GPS system should NEVER be used in isolation".

I don't know anyone who would use one navigation device as sole navigation reference. I also don't know anyone who would fly in the present ifr US system without a gps. Having a gps doesn't make it the sole navigation reference-you have to spend long flights twiddling other dials or you get bored... B)

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I don't know anyone who would use one navigation device as sole navigation reference.

 

Nor do I, but the CAA issued its guidance because there were pilots doing just that.

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One side benefit of having a G496 in the flight bag came in handy on the return trip from the 2004 Osh Kosh in a rented Archer. Just prior to the Champaign IL airspace we experienced a vacuum pump failure so opted for the "Six Pack" which was included in the G496.

Even though we had "severe clear" conditions it allowed to proceed thru the airspace and complete the trip without being stranded for repairs.

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I guess the sense I am getting that GPS use is fairly common, but the recommended practise is to use it only as an aid to situational awareness and not as a primary/sole navigation. Thanks.

 

 

 

I guess at some point visual and map based flying will become a niche and gps navigation will the standard, just as a lot of kids these days have no idea how to drive a manual car. In the future Recreational pilots may only need to understand how to operate GPS equipment to get a navigation certification. A lot of things in aviation are automated - which seems to be the definite trend.

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No-primary with a second gps as a backup and ancient other equipment as a backup to that-why /g is on the flight plan -and yes at one time I could do an adf approach with one hand tied behind my back :lol. ... But who would want to....

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I guess the sense I am getting that GPS use is fairly common, but the recommended practise is to use it only as an aid to situational awareness and not as a primary/sole navigation. Thanks.

 

 

 

I guess at some point visual and map based flying will become a niche and gps navigation will the standard, just as a lot of kids these days have no idea how to drive a manual car. In the future Recreational pilots may only need to understand how to operate GPS equipment to get a navigation certification. A lot of things in aviation are automated - which seems to be the definite trend.

 

Well, with integrated devices such a G500/600/1000 there's no choice. You have to use GPS as main navigation, but indeed, there are VOR and ADF capabilities.

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DR and pilotage are primary. Radio navigation secondary.

 

What is really fun is learning to use the equipment onboard. As a Pilot, you should know how to use whatever equipment is on the airplane.

 

I prefer the G1000.

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As a Pilot, you should know how to use whatever equipment is on the airplane.

zactly!

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