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Navigation: VOR

We’ve had a few posts about the Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR). Take a look at our introduction and at our CFI’s posts on VOR service volumes and a couple questions that might show up on your exam. Today, we’ll illustrate tracking to and from a VOR station. This post is excerpted from the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25A).

PHAK_15-32First, tune the VOR receiver to the frequency of the selected VOR station. For example, 115.0 to receive Bravo VOR. Next, check the identifiers to verify that the desired VOR is being received. As soon as the VOR is properly tuned, the course deviation needle deflects either left or right. Then, rotate the azimuth dial to the course selector until the course deviation needle centers and the TO-FROM indicator indicates “TO.”

If the needle centers with a “FROM” indication, the azimuth should be rotated 180° because, in this case, it is desired to fly “TO” the station. Now, turn the aircraft to the heading indicated on the VOR azimuth dial or course selector, 350° in this example.

If a heading of 350° is maintained with a wind from the right as shown, the aircraft drifts to the left of the intended track. As the aircraft drifts off course, the VOR course deviation needle gradually moves to the right of center or indicates the direction of the desired radial or track.

To return to the desired radial, the aircraft heading must be altered to the right. As the aircraft returns to the desired track, the deviation needle slowly returns to center. When centered, the aircraft is on the desired radial and a left turn must be made toward, but not to the original heading of 350° because a wind drift correction must be established. The amount of correction depends upon the strength of the wind. If the wind velocity is unknown, a trial-and-error method can be used to find the correct heading. Assume, for this example, a 10° correction for a heading of 360° is maintained.

While maintaining a heading of 360°, assume that the course deviation begins to move to the left. This means that the wind correction of 10° is too great and the aircraft is flying to the right of course. A slight turn to the left should be made to permit the aircraft to return to the desired radial.

When the deviation needle centers, a small wind drift correction of 5° or a heading correction of 355° should be flown. If this correction is adequate, the aircraft remains on the radial. If not, small variations in heading should be made to keep the needle centered, and consequently keep the aircraft on the radial.

As the VOR station is passed, the course deviation needle fluctuates, then settles down, and the “TO” indication changes to “FROM.” If the aircraft passes to one side of the station, the needle deflects in the direction of the station as the indicator changes to “FROM.”

Generally, the same techniques apply when tracking outbound as those used for tracking inbound. If the intent is to fly over the station and track outbound on the reciprocal of the inbound radial, the course selector should not be changed. Corrections are made in the same manner to keep the needle centered. The only difference is that the omnidirectional range indicator indicates “FROM.”

If tracking outbound on a course other than the reciprocal of the inbound radial, this new course or radial must be set in the course selector and a turn made to intercept this course. After this course is reached, tracking procedures are the same as previously discussed.

We’ll have more navigation on Thursday.

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