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Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by WDD, Jan 27, 2021.
OOC, where did you learn instrument flying?
If you have a GPS why not use track? I sit right seat watching people obsessively chase a needle and they're spending time bugging a heading and staying on that then over compensating, etc. Just use track.. if you know the radial is 281, for instance, and you are tracking 282 then that's good. To me using track to fine tune the localizer or CDI has been very helpful. With how poor beater renter's heading indicators are and with winds and all that I find track to be much easier
Yeah yeah yeah ATC gives heading.. still use that for vectors.. but once you're tracking a radial or a localizer just reference the track
VOR radials and GPS track don't always (or often) align. Radial 281 could be a GPS/ground track of 280, 285, 290.. etc, depending on VOR declination
We're talking about IFR training, so I'm assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that the OP has to demonstrate their ability to do this without assistance from the GPS. In real life, if you have RNAV—and there's no outage—you're probably not following a VOR for primary nav anyway. If you're flying a non-RNAV approach, then yes, the GPS track reading will let you get close to the right heading quickly without bracketing.
This is what my CFII gave me to try and do tonight. Am I mis-interpreting things?
You understood it correctly, but it seems like a lot of extra work (and I write that as a big fan of most of Rod's stuff). As I mentioned, I originally used something similar in the past (when I had no GPS or A/P), and it got the job done, but it was very fussy compared to just holding a heading.
The thing is, no matter how carefully you keep the wings level, your heading will drift (especially in turbulence with a strong yaw component), so you're going to be messing around all the way down, and making your passengers sick with all the abrupt banking/unbanking. OTOH, if you know what heading is keeping you on track, you just need to return to it (keep the heading bug at 12:00). You'll still need to correct, but not nearly as often.
That is ATCs favorite joke.
I seem to be over correcting things now, so maybe this is a way to slow that down. Someday when I'm closer to knowing what I'm doing I'll be more proficient at using the GPS, etc. Right now I could probably shake an AIM 9.
Rod better get that turn coordinator fixed. Holding a constant heading (wings level) is key. That means you have to have a good short term memory while you're frequently amending it. Banking in and out won't do a thing if you can't make a coordinated turn. Try just making small rudder turns while you keep the wings more or less horizontal, at least until you catch on, then you can tidy up and make coordinated banks.
I'm thinking maybe Rod's technique is optimised for getting a student to pass their IFR flight test quickly (especially if they're not good at holding a heading and/or get confused by wind-correction angles), rather than teaching them to fly well. In a conventional 6-pack, the heading bug at 12:00 is right below the AI by design, so if you use the AI to keep the wings level—as @dtuuri rightly points out—you can see if the heading bug is staying at 12:00 at the same time. If you maintain a good, steady heading, then the CDI shouldn't drift much (once you've figured out the correct heading), so you don't have to check the CDI constantly, much less fixate on it, like Rod's technique would have you do; just look once in a while to make sure it's not drifting because you've descended into a significantly-different wind layer.
This used to matter a lot more, because to maintain course on a LF/MF airway or NDB approach (or even worse, dead-reckoning across the ocean), you had to be able to hold a constant heading: there wasn't a CDI to chase. It was the absolute bedrock skill necessary for instrument flying (Ernie Gann wrote with contempt about a copilot who would let their heading drift 2° or more while handflying).
Now, once you get your rating, you'll almost always be following the magenta line (or having the A/P do it for you), so as long as nothing goes wrong with your equipment and there's not a GPS outage, all this bracketing and heading stuff is just a checklist item you have to get past to get your instrument rating; after that, most pilots (especially the ones rushed through the IFR mills) will just forget about it. So, I guess they figure why waste time and $$$ learning to do it properly, if there's a hack that will be good enough to get you through the checkride.
Rod also taught a lot before bugs were common.
In that case your eyes need to catch movement and many are deeply fixated / tunnel visioned on a single instrument early on.
Takes a bit to re-engage the peripheral vision.
Works for that big fat moving map on the GPS in the center stack too. I barely noticed it at first. Ha.
Relax, widen view, see more happening. Besides getting a good scan going, of course.
Yes, quite true -- I love his musical scan technique, for example. I'm disappointed in this one, because it encourages tunnel vision on the CDI rather than a good, relaxed scan.
1A) When ATC asks you to "say winds," it means your DG has precessed and you need to reset it.
Or when they seem to randomly tell you an altimeter setting. You might want to open your scan.
I also find XTE (Cross track error) and TKE (track angle error) very helpful while tracking RNAV
Yes, part of the ATC phraseology list for blockhead pilots:
"Recycle your transponder." (Turn it on, idiot!)
"Say heading." (Did you get your compass out of a Cracker Jack box, or what?)
"Altimeter setting is 29.98." (My guinea pig could hold altitude better than you.)
"Take the next runway exit." (How can you possibly use 6,000 ft rolling out after landing a PA-28?!?)
"Leave controlled airspace." (Self explanatory)
"Say altitude requested again" (that's a westbound altitude, and you're going eastbound, dummy) <--- this happens to me more than I care to admit. I usually don't realize until I'm looking at flightaware the next day. I wish they'd just tell me....
In my case it was a rental plane DG that would precess every 5 minutes. Got bit by that one after getting used to slaved HSI's.
No. Just clear me through.
Ground not only gives you clearance, they also give you vectors. I assumed tower just told you to depart on a general direction and then contact Departure. Makes sense - just didn’t expect it.
“Expect 3000 in 10 minutes.” That is to be done if you loose coms. I thought it was just a heads up that ATC would be telling you that in 10 min.
Not vectors, more of EFC/lost-comms instructions. But absolutely right -- whenever ATC says "expect" in IFR operations, it matters. The system was designed to be predictable in the face of sudden weather changes, equipment failures, etc. etc.
Here's an example: in June 2019, I was returning to Ottawa IFR in IMC. About 20 nm out, ATC told me to expect the RNAV A (really, RNAV 27 straight-in; I'm not sure why it's named that) for my airport. Just after that, my avionics master switch failed (as we found out later), and my whole avionics stack went dark.
So I pulled out my phone with Garmin Pilot and used it to navigate directly to the IAWP of the approach they'd told me to expect, and then used it to fly the approach (I was in VMC by then, but wanted to keep it predictable, since I couldn't communicate with ATC). When I was on the ground talking to Ottawa Terminal on the phone, they told me that I did exactly what they'd expected me to do, and because Ottawa Tower could see in its primary surveillance radar that I was doing it (remember, my transponder was also out), they didn't end up having to reroute any airline arrivals our departures from the big airport a few miles to the south.
In the U-S of A, you may choose any IAP.
Since it was an emergency (technically), I could have here as well, but once ATC had told me to expect a specific approach, it was good airmanship to do what everyone expected (if there was no safety issue preventing it). I'd have done the same in the U.S.
So apparently flying IFR in GA doesn't mean flying for 3 - 4 hours in IMC / being in a cloud with no visibility. Seems most folks use IFR to get through clouds / what not, and don't spend 3 hours staring on the inside of the cockpit. And most don't fly down to the minimums on approach all the time. Which begs the question - if you fly IFR a lot of time in non IMC conditions, do you fly using both VFR and IFR techniques? Scan instruments as well as look outside for traffic, a point in the horizon to keep your heading, etc?
If you are not in the clouds you should be looking outside for other airplanes, even on an IFR flight plan. It gets a little more tense when ATC calls you up and warns about traffic nearby when you are in solid IMC.
So the answer to your question is yes it is a combination of VFR and IFR. The instrument scan is less because you have outside reference to keep the plane up right when not IMC. The difference is that you are flying IFR altitudes, you are expected to hold those altitudes within tolerance, and ATC controls your course.
Very true. A few other important points to note:
ATC is not able to provide an IFR flight with active separation from VFR traffic in class E airspace outside of a mode-C veil (and even under the veil, their ability to provide separation relies on VFRs being compliant, and their mode C is probably still unverified).
Balloons, gliders, drones, and flocks of geese rarely carry transponders: they will be invisible on ATC's SSR and difficult to see even on PSR.
If you're on an approach in marginal conditions, you confirm to ATC that you have the traffic ahead of you in sight, and they instruct you to follow it, you've just accepted responsibility for your own visual separation. If you lose sight of that other plane, fess up right away and be prepared to go around.
That's one reason I like real, solid IMC. When the windows are opaque white, I know I can give my whole attention to my IFR scan, because there's no point looking outside anyway. I fly my best instrument-proficiency checks in actual IMC (even though I know the examiner is scanning for traffic when I'm flying in VMC with foggles), because my whole world has just become very small, simple, and distraction-free.
From my very limited actual experience I found going in and out of clouds to be most distracting
If most members of this forum took a truth serum before answering, the honest response would be that they programme the GPS, turn on the autopilot, then fight boredom for 3 hours by looking for music on SiriusXM, etc. while George flies them, and changing to a new ATC frequency every 30 minutes or so. Even if it's VMC, you're too high to entertain yourself with visual navigation the way you would on a low-altitude VFR flight, e.g. "This village must be X. Great! Now if I follow this road south, it should get me to Y river in 10 minutes..." At 8,000 ft AGL, you're looking at pretty-much the same scenery ahead of you for a half hour or more.
That said, there are more-useful ways to fill that time than just tuning in 70s on 7 and singing along to "Crocodile Rock."
Keep scanning your panel to make sure the A/P is behaving well and that it's taking you where you thought it would.
Look out the window and watch for traffic.
Look at your engine instruments to make sure everything's OK (do you know what "normal" looks like on them)?
Check your progress against the flight plan — are you behind schedule? Will you still have enough fuel?
Listen to the radio chatter, and form a map in your head of where the other traffic is and what conditions they're experiencing.
Check the radar imagery on your tablet (but don't trust it too much; weather is what you see out the window).
Disconnect and hand fly for a while to keep your skills sharp.
Keep track of what the weather's telling you as you go along. Is the altimeter rising or falling? Temperature? Cloud tops or bases? Do you have a headwind or tailwind? Is the your heading crabbed to the right of your track (with caveats, flying towards better weather with a rising altimeter setting) or to the left (with caveats, flying towards worse weather with a lower altimeter setting)?
Tune in VORs, remember to identify them, and practice triangulating your position on a paper chart, then compare it to the moving map.
Tune in ATIS and AWOS as you fly by (even though you can just get the METARs over ADS-B or SiriusXM).
If you still have an ADF, tune it into NDBs and watch the needle swing as you fly by (most NDBs are close to airports, so turning straight towards one in an emergency is usually a good move).
OK, and maybe sing along to "Crocodile Rock" as well.
If it looks puffy, brace your duffy. (OK, needs work; but I do always take a big breath and brace myself before entering a CU).
If the cloud is a huge mass, brace your sorry ass.
At night, figure out what airport you are near and turn on the pilot controlled lighting for a feeling of power and giggles - While singing along to crocodile rock...
Paper? ADF? "Crocodile Rock"?
Are those boomer things or something?
I’m somewhere between boomer and gen x. I know of crocodile rock, but prefer music from the 80’s - the last decade of good music.
Apparently the reason “The Stroke” is a common song to hear in the men’s room at work.
I'm technically a boomer, I guess, since I was born a few days before the official cutoff for gen-X, but I was only 3½ years old when Woodstock happened, so I don't really share their cultural experiences.
NDB holds and approaches were still on the training curriculum when I got my instrument rating in 2003; by then, the first of the Millennials were in their early 20s, and some were already flight instructors.
I had to laugh at that one. Um...no. ATC has NO idea what the wind is doing in the area you are flying. (and how could they?) They know they've got to get you to a point so they give you a vector. If that doesn't work, then they give you another one. I've seen controllers use the pencil method, especially when in training which is they place a pencil over your target pointing to the area they want you to be, imagine a compass rose in the center of that target and give you a vector based on where the pencil is pointing.
In my experience on the pilot side, the terminal controllers giving me vectors ballpark a rough first guess, then adjust as needed. In a relatively-confined terminal area (where I get most of my vectors), they have a pretty good idea what the wind's doing, because they know what runways they're sequencing for at the big airport(s).
I don't think anyone but a n00b groundschool instructor would assume that controllers are pulling out an E6B and calculating my wind drift before assigning a vector; but if the wind's blowing (e.g.) towards a busy arrival path and they want to keep me out of the way, they seem to adjust a vector 10°–20° into the wind as a WAG for a slow plane like mine, then watch to see where I'm actually tracking (as you wrote).
You know, that’s what I’ve always felt was true, but man, all my instructors have beat it into me that I must fly the heading given and not correct for wind.
Yes, you do have to fly the heading they give you, because they'll use that as the basis for any corrected vectors they assign after that. For example, if they say "Fly heading 270", you fly a heading of 270°. If they look on their scope and your track isn't taking you where they want, they might say "turn right 10 degrees", but in my experience, it's equally likely that they'll say "fly heading 280," which still means "turn right 10 degrees" (since they're assuming you're currently flying 270° by your compass).