Part II — The Ground and Air Instruction Syllabus — Exercise 23 — Pilot Navigation


To teach the student to prepare for and be able to conduct safe cross-country flights.


As required.

Essential Background Knowledge

(1)  Discuss the procedure to be used to:

  1. Obtain weather reports and forecasts and to extract appropriate information for the intended flight and destination aerodrome, including possible cross-wind on the landing runway;
  2. Select appropriate track;
  3. Determine possible hazards along the proposed track i.e.:
  1. towers;
  2. danger areas, etc.

D. Prepare the chart i.e. plotting of track lines, measurement of distances, plotting of 10° lines and distance increments;

E. Select alternate aerodromes for emergency use en route;

F. Calculate heading and time en route;

G. Prepare Navigation Flight Planning Form and Flight Log, and file Transport Canada Flight Plan or Flight Itinerary.

(2)  Outline:

  1. Procedure for setting heading: overhead, climb on heading or from known geographic point — precautions to be taken when setting heading indicator to magnetic compass — the need for checking the heading indicator just prior to setting heading and periodic resetting en route — the need for checking visually that the aircraft is heading in the correct direction (visual angle of departure) — chart orientation procedures;
  2. Pilot navigation technique to be used for in-flight correction of track error i.e. 10° drift lines, etc. and revision or confirmation of estimated time of arrival (ETA) over the next check-point;
  3. Procedure for entering flight progress in flight log;
  4. Procedure to divert to alternate aerodrome, return to departure aerodrome or to fly an alternate track;
  5. Basic use of radio aids to navigation as appropriate;
  6. Considerations for navigation at low level or in conditions of reduced visibility;
  7. Action to be taken if unsure of position or lost — how to request and follow instructions for a DF steer.

(3)  Check aircraft documents for validity and Journey Log to determine that sufficient time remains for the intended flight.

Advice to Instructors

NOTE:  Navigation Terms. To comply with standard ICAO definitions the words "course" and "route" have been eliminated in this guide. In the past, the terms "set course" "alter course" etc., have been used, and instructors should make every effort to teach the proper terms to their students. "Heading" can be coupled with "true", "magnetic", or "compass" while "intended" or "made good" can be added to "track".

(1)  At some point during navigation training, practice should be given in low level pilot navigation to emphasize the importance of maintaining the planned heading or corrected heading for the time en route.

(2)  During the low level navigation training and flying to and from the training area the student is not expected to use precise plotting techniques in the air; rather, simple useful "rule of thumb" calculations for track and ETA corrections are all that is necessary.

(3)  The Navigation Flight Planning Form and Flight Log used must include at least all the information contained in the form and log on the following pages.

(4)  This exercise affords an excellent opportunity to point out many good airmanship practices and procedures, e.g.:

  • practical weight and balance computation
  • use of Airport Register
  • en route refuelling procedures
  • chart orientation
  • en route weather and airport information
  • usefulness of DR Navigation in establishing "circle of probable location" at all times
  • use of Canada Flight Supplement
  • filing and closing of Flight Plan or Flight Itinerary.

(5)  The solo cross-country exercise involves the application of all skills and experience accumulated by the student throughout the training course. Before authorizing solo, assure yourself and the student that the required competence to complete this exercise successfully has been achieved. Ensure that the student has carried out adequate pre-flight planning and preparation unassisted.

(6)  Extreme care should be taken to ensure the weather is suitable, the aircraft is serviceable, with sufficient fuel for the intended flight, and that the student has been thoroughly briefed on the correct procedure to be followed for any probable event which may occur during the flight.

(7)  Prior to being authorized for a solo cross-country flight, students must have demonstrated that they can:

  1. By application of a systematic pilot navigation technique, make necessary heading corrections to maintain or regain track;
  2. Fly a heading with reasonable accuracy;
  3. Calculate reasonably accurate and useful time of arrival for the next check-point;
  4. Make unscheduled detours from the planned route;
  5. Record revised ground speeds, ETAs, new headings and times over check- points, in the Flight Log en route. A sample of the Navigation Flight Planning Form and Flight Log are shown on the following pages. The various columns are set up to enable step by step calculation of the compass heading required to set heading. The example shows a flight involving control zones, position checking, etc. The student shall be instructed to make sufficient in-flight entries to assist with position estimating, ground speed checks, ETAs etc. Many "standard" entries may be made in the Flight Log prior to departure, thereby only requiring pertinent times to be entered while in flight. The flight planning exercise must not be allowed to develop into a complex procedure. Show the student the basic facts necessary to prepare and fly a successful cross-country flight.

(8)  At every opportunity during the student's training, such as when proceeding to and from the training area, progressive introduction to setting heading, maintaining a heading, map reading, establishing tracks and determining ground speed, will make the demonstration and solo practice of this exercise more meaningful and enjoyable.

Instruction and Student Practice

(1)  Teach the student to:

  1. Establish the aircraft on the required heading over the "set heading point", check heading indicator, enter set heading time in flight log. Check visual angle of departure;
  2. Determine ETA for first turning point or first destination.;
  3. Appreciate the importance of maintaining an accurate heading;
  4. After a suitable period of time and provided a suitable pin-point is located, determine the "track made good" using 10° drift lines;
  5. Calculate the heading to regain or maintain required track.;
  6. Calculate ground speed for confirmation or revision of ETA at next check-point;
  7. Establish aircraft on required heading at turning points and — correction and revisions to ETA, and confirm sufficient fuel;

H. Use opening and closing angles, visual alteration method, etc., in addition to the primary double track error method;

I. Establish a heading and how to use physical features (roads, rivers, etc.) to proceed to a suitable alternate aerodrome within the range of fuel remaining including considerations for reserves at some point during the latter stage of the cross-country exercise;

J. Mentally calculate a reciprocal track;

K. Use radio aids to navigation, if practicable, in determining a heading to be flown to a facility or to provide a position line.

(2)  Demonstrate special considerations for navigation at low level or in conditions of reduced visibility with emphasis on the importance of maintaining a compass heading for the planned time en route.

(3)  Demonstrate procedure to follow if unsure of position or lost, including procedure to obtain Air Traffic Control assistance.

(4)  Close Flight Plan or Flight Itinerary, as applicable.

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