View Full Version : What is runway heading?

5th Jan 2004, 22:00
When asked to maintain runway heading after takeoff do you fly the heading of the runway, or do you correct for drift and maintain the runway track?


5th Jan 2004, 22:22

To follow heading and not allow for drift could be fatal coming out of somewhere like CDG. You will also get a bollocking from atc.

5th Jan 2004, 22:23
That one has floored many a check ride candidate - to my knowledge "runway heading" implies exactly that: maintain the heading (the thinking being that if everone does, all have the same drift off track). However if the SID or missed approach states anything to do with "track" the ball game changes.
But then again I could be proved wrong!

5th Jan 2004, 22:53
Runway heading is no longer used in the UK, in theory at least. The term straight ahead is used to mean track the extended centreline.

PPRuNe Radar
5th Jan 2004, 22:54
In the UK there is no phraseology for a 'runway heading' departure anymore. This was changed precisely because of the confusion.

Pilots will either be instructed to 'continue present heading' (you may drift off the extended centreline depending upon the wind) or to 'continue straight ahead' (you should TRACK the extended centreline making corrections for drift).

However, the majority of UK traffic will be cleared on SID departures anyhow and the pilot will be expected to follow the track of the route. The clearances above will only be used when required by ATC as part of the big game plan.

5th Jan 2004, 23:01
From a UK perspective, the reference is CAP413, Chapter 1 page 4 "Definitions".

Straight Ahead on takeoff = Track Runway extended centreline.
Straight Ahead in Missed Approach Procedures = Continue on Final Approach Track.

5th Jan 2004, 23:10
We're just a poor fellas who don't know what to do, of course. However I remember seeing an "explanatory" :\ local ATS leaflet regarding just this. I.E. the difference between instructions continue straight-ahead and fly runway heading.

From my point of view a heading is exactly what it is, a datum relating to imaginary direction up north and airplane's longitudinal axis.

ATC know what they want and 99% of the time they say exactly so. Among other issues, it's the iceberg of the 1% that makes flying so darn complex as it is.

5th Jan 2004, 23:25
<< ... follow heading and not allow for drift could well be fatal coming out of somewhere like CDG..." >>

Sorry Muppet... but what obstacles did you have in mind? The Pyrenees? Alps? Black Mountains? My gray cells may be going slowly AWOL but I recall CDG being in an area as flat as a witch's t*t. I will concede on the ATC bollocking though.... sometimes it's the only time they speak to you! bm

6th Jan 2004, 00:04
Gee, Boeing MEL ... I've just searched Muppet's post with a fine-toothed comb, and I don't find the word "obstacle" in his post anywhere. Try to expand your mind a bit and think .... hmmm...what might he have meant ... what ELSE might present a hazard?

Oh yeah -- OTHER AIRCRAFT departing on closely-spaced parallel runways?!

Do you suppose two aircraft colliding might produce fatal results?

ok, I'll stop the silly sarcastic nonsense if you promise to think a bit more before hitting "Submit Reply" on your next post.

6th Jan 2004, 00:21
Just what I thought. We do not agree on this matter!
I think the British were spot on when they discontinued using this phrase. Nevertheless this is widely used and pilots will probably argue about this for time to come.
Then...Heading IS heading, and track isn´t heading except in fairyland where the wind is calm and all aircraft in trim.


6th Jan 2004, 00:33
All the SIDs in the region I'm flying in start with 'Climb straight ahead......'. I think that's fairly self explanatory. Having said that though, very few do. I onced asked a contoller at a meeting with ATC this very question. His answer was that if given by the tower they are looking for runway track, if given after departure then it will be a heading. Made perfect sense to me but unless it's in writing then we're going to end back on this forum....

6th Jan 2004, 00:59
It used to be that 'after departure, maintain runway heading' meant 'don't apply drift after you're airborne', whereas 'straight ahead' meant that you had to appy drift in order to follow the extended runwy centreline. Particularly important if parallel runway operations are in force and there's a significant crosswind.

But the UK military often say 'maintain runway track' - not CAP 413, but it's pretty obvious!

6th Jan 2004, 02:18
I have to agree:

a Heading is a heading - i.e. no wind correction.

CDG was mentioned. Last time I was there they gave instructions to "climb on rwy centerline". However, I have heard them (another controller) during the same period give "rwy heading".

It seems that they by "rwy heading" mean the centerline - which goes against what I have been tought and done since starting to fly. But, then again, (to be diplomatic) everything is not exactly crystal clear around CDG...

6th Jan 2004, 03:02
The controversy developed with the mix of steam driven instruments and FMS..With parra lell runway depts(like Toronto),the 'upwind'traffic started to approach the FMS(centreline) traffic,due to drift-Ergo all traffic had to dept 'on runway heading'(drift with the crosswind)
I imagine 'once the world is FMS'straight out Depts will apply...

6th Jan 2004, 03:07
I keep falling back to "well in this country".....but in this country heading and track are obviously two different things. If a SID or a controller says fly runway heading then that is exactly what is expected regardless of drift. If I am expected on a particular track then the instruction will be to maintain an identified airway/air route or inbound or outbound on a track of xxx. Nothing could be simpler really.

6th Jan 2004, 06:50
In the U.S., "Runway Heading" means:

RUNWAY HEADING- The magnetic direction that corresponds with the runway centerline extended, not the painted runway number. When cleared to "fly or maintain runway heading," pilots are expected to fly or maintain the heading that corresponds with the extended centerline of the departure runway. Drift correction shall not be applied; e.g., Runway 4, actual magnetic heading of the runway centerline 044, fly 044

Source: Pilot Controller Glossary

6th Jan 2004, 06:56
Oz uses 'runway heading' similarly to the US. Makes a lot more sense to me than any concept that redefines a heading to mean a track.

miss d point
6th Jan 2004, 07:15
haven't looked this one up for quite a few years but taking off in some places you should account for drift and fly the heading to maintain the r/w c/l if safe, i have noticed some sids that say maintain r/w heading but if theres a storming crosswind it could blow you straight into a hill !
contoller still gets to go home that day !

6th Jan 2004, 15:15
I suspect that this is one of those things that have grown up from earlier times and become entrenched in the system. Maybe it had its' genesis in the fact that each runway heads in a specific direction. In any event, we all make an effort to remain on the centreline during each take-off so aren't we all actually maintaining a track anyway?

That's the way I've always looked at this issue, so an instruction to maintain runway heading means, to me, that ATC expects me to stay on the extended centreline. I figure that this is one of the main reasons why runway data includes the actual magnetic bearing of the runway. I can't see any other interpretation that would be safe in all circumstances, especially when one considers the protection that is afforded in the surveyed take-off area.

Dan Winterland
6th Jan 2004, 16:18

PANSOPS: Maintain runway track. (i.e drift corrected).

TERPS: Maintain runway heading. (i.e no drift correction).

TERPS are used in N and S America, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. Rest of the world uses PANSOPS. Know what you should be using (it should tell you what rules you should be following on your approach plates). If you are flying one of the more modern glass Boeings, the FMC knows where you are and applies the correct command to the FD/AP.

6th Jan 2004, 18:18

You mean if I'm instructed to fly "rwy heading" (where PANS-OPS is applicable) I'm actually supposed to fly rwy TRACK?

Do you have a reference to where in PANS-OPS this can be found?

6th Jan 2004, 18:39
This question is about ATC R/T Terminology. PANS-OPS doesn't deal with that, nor I suspect, do TERPS.

In UK, as I mentioned before, CAP413 removes all doubt. I think for once we got it right!

6th Jan 2004, 19:59
PANS ATM (Doc 4444) has the following in chapter 12 of typical phraseologies: TURN OR CLIMB INSTRUCTIONS AFTER TAKE-OFF:

... heading to be followed: CONTINUE RUNWAY HEADING (instructions)

... when a specific track is to be followed: TRACK EXTENDED CENTRE LINE (instructions)
Which seems pretty clear to me.

7th Jan 2004, 06:40
It seems to me that the UK authorities confused the issue further! An instruction to "fly staright ahead" does not tell em whether or not to fly heading or track...two very different things.

If they want you to fly runway heading then you fly the SPECIFIC heading, and the let the wind do what it may.

If the ask for a TRACK then you fly a path, over the ground, whicj means correcting for wind.

7th Jan 2004, 11:18
Dan Winterland... talking to colleagues in Japan, Taiwan and Korea recently, I learned that both Japan and Taiwan are changing over to Pans Ops and that Korea uses both criteria. I guess that simplifies things a lot, huh? :}

7th Jan 2004, 19:51
Trader see my post of 5 Jan. "Straight ahead" means Track in UK. No confusion whatever.

9th Jan 2004, 01:29
Crótalo says:
"... what ELSE might present a hazard?
"...Oh yeah -- OTHER AIRCRAFT departing on closely-spaced parallel runways?! Do you suppose two aircraft colliding might produce fatal results?"

So what are you saying?....that a crosswind would affect only one of the two parallel departing airplanes and not the other..? :confused:

Captain Stable
10th Jan 2004, 00:47
Keep it polite and professional please, folks. :ok:

10th Jan 2004, 21:40
I agree with ANVAK.

In Oz, if one is assigned a 'heading', you fly that heading without taking into account wind drift. An assigned heading is usually given by ATC if the aircraft is cleared on a RADAR SID. The assigned heading is usually maintained until the MVA is reached and vectors provided.

An assigned heading is not usually given if the clearance includes a procedural (as opposed to RADAR) SID. In this case the LNAV of the procedural SID must be followed (which requires compensation for wind drift).



10th Jan 2004, 22:38
I would agree it means keep the aircraft over the extended runway centreline. That way you're in a position to accurately follow a SID. Also not considered yet is noise abatement which is taken into account when designing SIDs. I don't suppose the BAA or other airport owner would respond to a serious noise complaint by saying:

"Yes we are sorry you got woken up by the sound of jet engines Mr Nimby, but you see the plane got blown over your house by the wind so you really shouldn't be bothering us as it's not our fault!"


12th Jan 2004, 00:18
I have just reread my Jepp notes. Rwy Heading is just that. "No allowance for drift shall be made." And, yes my notes are current!

12th Jan 2004, 08:04
Sorry, my brain cell hurts!

Heading = Track + Drift

Runway Heading = Runway QDM + 0 deg (since when did a lump of concrete anchored to mother Earth ever experience the effects of wind?)

ERGO, 'Maintain runway heading' = 'Fly the runway centreline'.

Or am I being thick and obtuse (as usual?)

12th Jan 2004, 09:07
For the life of me I can not understand what is so complicated about this.

HEADING = that's the bit you read at the top of your HSI or some similar device. When told to fly a certain heading, whether by ATC or some written instruction, you manipulate control surfaces on the aircraft until said heading appears at the 12:00 position of your heading indicator.....HSI, RMI, Compass, Ouija Board, whatever.

Track = a heading that acounts for external forces i.e.wind, in order to maintain a specific track across the face of the planet.

Let me ask a question. If some of you are receiving radar vectors and are told to "turn right to 240" do you have 240 as an indicated heading or are you doing mental gymnastics or consulting your FMS in order to find a heading that will give you a TRACK of 240? Hopefully you are turning to a HEADING of 240. It's the same thing with maintain runway heading. How about if you are decending into the terminal area and told "maintain present heading". As you descend it's a fair bet that the winds are going to change somewhat. Do you maintain the heading that you had when you were given that instuction from ATC or do you continually maneuver the aircraft to maintain a track? Again, hopefully you are still on the same heading. It's the same thing as "maintain runway heading".

I might mention that my significant other is one of those folks on the other side of the mike.......you know one of those that might say something like "maintain present heading" and she agrees with my view.

PPRuNe Radar
12th Jan 2004, 09:12
A perfect summary 604guy :)

12th Jan 2004, 16:32
Being as how the original question related to "runway heading", rather than a heading on a radar vector, I must disagree with you 604guy. If given an instruction to maintain runway heading, I always assume that ATC wants me going the same way as the extended centreline of the runway. Now, to my feeble and saki-soaked brain, the extended centreline is a track, so I must correct for drift, in order to track out along that path.

This is most certainly NOT the same thing as flying a heading when ATC so directs, as in radar vectoring. Seems like we'll just have to agree to differ but, as I know the protection afforded to an aircraft after take-off is conventionally based around the extended centreline, I've always figured that I'm safer there than wandering (ooops... drifting) to one side or the other.

I also figure that, on the (rare) occasions when I get it exactly right during final approach, I'm actually tracking along the extended runway centreline. I may be unique here but, in a cross-wind, I prefer to stay aligned with the runway than to allow the aircraft to drift to one side of the other of the threshold.

12th Jan 2004, 21:07
I take 'heading' to mean just that. Maintain the longitudinal axis aligned with that number. That's how the term is defined. Doesn't matter what phrase was used to derive the relevent number - radar instruction, procedure design, runway alignment or whatever.

If TRACK is what is intended then I'd expect that term to be used. Or a functionally equivalent eg 'direction' ie maintain a specific path over the ground.

I certainly DON'T expect instructions to start using an already well defined term to mean some other - and different - well defined term.

29th Jan 2004, 11:01
It really is incredible that this old chestnut still appears in aviation circles. As quoted by Voidhawk with reference to Doc 4444, and by 604guy, Tinstaafl, and many others with reference to common sense, the definitions of Heading and Track were carved in stone decades ago. I think Dan W was slightly misleading in his post as it did not actually clarify the definition of Heading in Pans-Ops.

Doc 8168 (PANS-OPS), the modern equivalent of stone, defines it thus (1-1) :-

Heading. The direction in which the longitudinal axis of the aircraft is pointed, usually expressed in degrees from North (true, magnetic, compass or grid).

Track. The projection on the earth's surface of the path of an aircraft, the direction of which path at any point is usually expressed in degrees from North (true, magnetic or grid).

While PANS-ATM and PANS-OPS cover different aspects of the business, these ICAO docs are co-ordinated where definitions are concerned and virtually every nation is a signatory to them.

The Americans seem to have no problem with this, nor do most other nations. The UK has officially dropped "runway heading", as per bookworm's post, because of the apparent confusion involved; amply illustrated on this thread. By issuing Heading instructions, controllers know that all within their tactical plan will be affected equally by wind effect.

The notion posted by many here that Heading on suitable occasions actually means Track is laughable. If it sounds wrong to you, query it. If, as muppet experienced, you get a bollocking for correctly following an incorrect instruction, or the instruction would compromise obstacle or noise-abate paths, file an ASR/MOR (or whatever your system) after you land. It works wonders and will usually improve something.

Dan Winterland
29th Jan 2004, 19:37
Sorry if I misled you, but I didn't think a definition of heading was necessary. I had assumed most pilots could grasp the concept of a heading!

I was alluding to the fact that procedures are written to different criteria. Those departure procedures written under PANSOPS assume runway track will be maintained. Under TERPS, you maintain runway heading - in otherwords, no correction for drift.

This difference came to discussion last week when I did my line check out of Taipei. (Taiwan uses TERPS). Sure enough, the Jepp SID word description of the procedure mentioned heading, wheras a SID from a PANSOPS plate mentioned track.

This difference is not always understood. In the 744, you don't have to understand it. The FMC/FD knew where you were and gave you the command to fly the approprite reference. This applys to the MAP as well as the SID.

However, if a controller tells me to 'maintain runway heading', I for one would select heading and treat it as a radar heading until otherwise instructed. If he said 'maintain runway track', I would correct it for drift. I assume he/she knows what they're talking about and follow accordingly.

Personally, I think it's quite simple - but then again, I like simple things. :D

fatboy slim
29th Jan 2004, 20:05
The phrase 'maintain rwy heading' may have been withdrawn from official ATC use, but I believe that the TWR controller uses it to send an aircraft down the extended centerline. I correct for drift if when given that instuction.

I agree that 'after departure continue staight ahead' or some such is much better phraseology.

29th Jan 2004, 20:10
Just to add to the confusion in Japan the regs are quite specific in that if asked to fly runway heading they want you to fly runway number times 10 ie runway 34 departure would mean a heading of 340 even if the runway direction is 332 degres.

29th Jan 2004, 23:21
Why don't we just bin phrases like 'Runway heading' and 'Climb straight ahead' and use, for example, "After departure fly heading 240 degrees". No ambiguity, even if the heading is aligned with the Runway. ATC allow for drift (or should do so) at all other times when issuing heading instructions, so why not on departure?

30th Jan 2004, 13:11
This is a potentially serious issue and I think it is worth reviewing the original question on this thread: When asked to maintain runway heading after takeoff do you fly the heading of the runway, or do you correct for drift and maintain the runway track? (my emphasis).

Regardless of publisher or source, in all the departure charts that I have seen in recent times I am not aware of any published procedure that says "Maintain Runway Heading" (I await the inevitable example!). Where no terrain/obstacle is present, those charts issued under the American jurisdiction, where applicable, usually apply the term, " . .maintain heading as assigned." Otherwise a SID requires tracking for the usual, universal reasons. The USA is a Contracting State to ICAO, by the way.

The original question by MasterBates referred specifically to being asked to maintain runway heading, which implies a controller's instruction. This has produced a number of respondents who believe that Heading and Track can somehow mean the same thing, regardless of what is published in internationally accepted documents which clearly state to the contrary.

In answer to specific posts:-

Dan Winterland

With great respect to your background and experience, if two charts issued by different sources are actually giving different versions of what the national AIP has published, then it should be an instant ASR (BTW: hope you're enjoying the new environment!).

fatboy slim

Re: . . . but I believe that the TWR controller uses it to send an aircraft down the extended centerline. . . . Please don't "believe that" - query it if in doubt. In the highly unlikely event that we are just getting airborne from the same airport, please don't do that while I'm departing on the parallel runway under the same instructions, especially if I am upwind of you. I shall be following the controller's directive to maintain a heading, albeit with an even better lookout as a result of this thread!


Interesting snippet of local knowledge that - although runway designation is usually rounded to the nearest 5° - I get your point however.


Common Sense. What a rare and wonderful concept in this industry :)

Whilst awaiting the next "incoming", I reiterate: If in doubt, query the instruction - report anomalies. Only that way will we achieve optimum safety.

30th Jan 2004, 17:57
So I will fly as instructed by ATC; if I am uncertain as to what the instructions mean then I will ask. However this begs the question, do ATC know what they mean?

If runway heading is not i.a.w. the SID, then ATC is assuming primary responsibility for a/c and/or terrain clearance (except it is always the Capts final responsibility), but then what happens with a comms failure, more confusion?

It’s about time the industry sorted out the runway heading / track confusion. Whilst questions are being asked here about this potential safety hazard, how are we going to get them to those who should provide an answer - submit the safety reports.

Dan Winterland
30th Jan 2004, 18:26
Hi Dr Syn, here's the first inevitable reply......

I wasn't saying that two different publishers will apply different standards to their charts for the same airfield - however, having until recently used SAS charts, I'm not sure about that! A country will either use TERPS standards (N and S America, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and S Korea) or PANSOPS standards (rest of the world. They are essentially the same with a few minor differences - one being the hdg/track after takeoff and another which you will be familiar with being holding speeds.

I must admit to not being too familiar with the AIPs of all the nations I fly to, I tend to rely on the national or local differences as published in Jepps / AERADs for that. I also, like most pilots, tend to follow the published charts on departures without questioning them too much - as I do with the FMC database. However, sometimes this doesn't always work - The Taipei case being one. The Jepp FMC database does not correspond to the SID plate, so the depareture was flown in HDG rather than LNAV. The text of the departure stated runway heading, not track as it was written using TERPS. If we had maintained runway track, we would have been incorrect despite Taipei having high ground in proximity.

My point is that rather than following your instincts (which a lot of posters on this thread seem to) be aware of which system the airfield uses and apply. That is not to say that a published departure won't vary the standard. If in any doubt, he text should make you aware of this.

That BTW, (the SU1M Rw05 SID at Taipei) is your example of a published procedure which specifies runway heading.

And also, while the USA is a ICAO contracting state, it is not ICAO compliant. Just look at the airfield markings at EWR (or any other US airfields) next time you're there if you don't believe me.

And, yes I am enjoying the new environment. Many thanks for asking.


30th Jan 2004, 18:50
Toronto CYYZ they are paranoid about noise the SID says maintain runway heading, you do that, in a strong wind 40kts from the right you bust a noise monitoring station, If you leave it in TOGA doesn't matter what the wind is doing you will NEVER bust a monitoring DB limit!!

Ivan Urge
31st Jan 2004, 00:42
I think you will find the terminology on TERPS SIDS are "climb on runway heading". Believe it or not this means TRACK. Its written not spoken.

Now.... completely different situation; A controller says "fly runway heading" (only in FAA influenced areas I think we all agree). This, as someone has already pointed out, means put the runway heading at the top of your HSI. Except in Japan, where you fly the cardinal number at the top of your HSI. A good example of just how silly that idea has become is New Chitose Airport. Runway 19 (direction is 182) if instructed to 'Fly runway heading' you fly 190. The Japanese think its simple!!!!!! Why do we not?

Just to muddy the water now... Were we all not taught in our primary training around the circuit to track the extended centreline of the runway? We were on runway heading then.. no?

31st Jan 2004, 01:41
Always thought runway heading was not to be corrected for wind..but what if mountains around and a NASTY Xwind?doesnt it make sense to follow the runway track?
My question is:what would a JAA certified autopilot do when told to keep runway heading?
Its effectively a KNOB question :rolleyes: :p


31st Jan 2004, 02:02
Ivan Urge - The FAA's Departure Procedure Program (Order No. 8260.46) has the following WRT terminology to be used in SIDs:
(1) When required, departure instructions should specify the actual heading to be flown after takeoff. Example: "Climb via heading 350... " Some existing procedures specify "Climb runway heading." Over time, these procedures will be updated, changing the terminology to specify the actual heading being flown.
Runway Heading. The magnetic direction that corresponds with the runway centerline extended, not the painted runway numbers on the runway. Pilots cleared to "fly or maintain runway heading" are expected to fly or maintain the heading that corresponds with the extended centerline of the departure runway (until otherwise instructed by ATC), and are not to apply drift correction; e.g., RWY 4, actual magnetic heading of the runway centerline 044°, fly 044°.
So are there countries other than Japan that do it differently? And why? :)

Ivan Urge
1st Feb 2004, 00:34
Voidhawk, why dont you post the whole order. I am sure it would interest many, including me. I would suggest that the explanation I have given may not apply universally in FAA influenced areas, but I can say, is dead accurate as far as Japan is concerned. They are commited on the "climb on runway heading" (when specified in a SID) meaning fly the runway TRACK. It is in their A.I.M. which is produced, amongst others, with the blessings of the JCAB and the ATC authority in Japan.

They are equally committed on the fly heading (on your HSI) 140 if the runway is 14 and the direction is 146, when instructed by ATC to "fly runway heading"

One thing is for certain, the longer you are in aviation the more you realize that there are numerous uncertainties.

The curious part about this is very few experienced Japanese pilots are aware of this, and I would suggest, no visting pilots are.

0.85, you ask a curious question. 'JAA certified' autopilots are no different to non JAA. Have a look at your LNAV legs to see if it says 'Hdg' or not between you and the next waypoint. If it does and you use LNAV then it will fly heading. Many SIDS are coded incorrectly in FMS databases. It behoves you to check the LNAV will give you track and not heading when so mandated, and vice versa.

1st Feb 2004, 09:45
So, this topic continues and clearly shows that PPRuNe is a formidable medium for discussing Flight Safety. Really folks, this is an important thread, even if the actual incidence of this confusion only crops up occasionally, or in specific locations. To begin, some explanation to those interested:

For the benefit of those who do not operate within the USA's area of influence, TERPS is an acronym of Terminal (&) En Route ProcedureS. It is, broadly speaking, the FAA version of ICAO Doc 8168 PANS-OPS, to which the USA is full a signatory as with all things ICAO. It is a common misunderstanding amongst aviators that, because the USA is one of the few nations still using Imperial measurement in aviation, a few variations in R/T terminology, and publishes FARs, it is somehow non-compliant with ICAO. This is not the case. ICAO states the permissable units of measurement, and includes those used by the most aviation-orientated nation on earth, as it does the metric flight levels applied in such areas as Russia, etc. It also requires signatory nations to publish an AIP and state any differences from those of ICAO in that document. The USA's AIP is called FAR.

In 32 years of flying in and out of the USA and her dominions ;), I have never been aware of any FAR criteria that do not either equal or exceed those agreed by ICAO. Indeed the nation that is also the world's most litigious-orientated nation probably reviews its air-regs more openly and honestly than any other. Hence Voidhawk's post and reference above (Ivan, www.faa.gov/ ). A misinterpretaion was observed and subsequently clarified. Runway markings ( Dan W ) do conform by the way (glad you're enjoying it, BTW).

Indeed the FAA periodically publishes a league table of nations specifically subjected to their "compliance with ICAO standards". This in itself contradicts any idea that the USA is not somehow ICAO-compliant. Each ICAO nation, or group of nations, has its own legislation incorporated in its AIP and from which the various publishing sources derive their charts and supplements. Without these, flight planning for an international flight would require several hours and a massive library in the Flight Planning Room - although I do remember a time and place when there was one!

Final points:

1. Great care should be taken when using FMC databases for departure, and the paper chart (or equivalent) should always be referred to as definitive, and queried if in doubt. Where a SID calls for "maintain runway heading", the FMC often draws the RWY centreline track into outer space. As discussed above, this is not the correct ICAO intent, but has been programmed manually into the system by an operator who may not realise the implications. Beware and report.

2. If anyone ever experiences an active anomaly in the interpretation of Heading and Track report it immediately under the reference I quoted in my earlier post. Controllers and authorities, in whatever part of the world, really don't want or intend to be confusing. It may just be a case of folklore, as illustrated by a few aviators on this thread, or a question of first language, possibly as in muppet's case at the start of this thread.

3. Ivan, if what you say is true about Japanese SIDs stating "climb on runway heading" to mean Track, I have no doubt that the JCAB would be mortified, but grateful, to know of the error as they are one of the most fastidious applicants of the ICAO rules.

In the most safety-conscious industry on earth Flight Safety will never reach its zenith. Every anomaly reported and corrected is a potential accident avoided.

1st Feb 2004, 11:19
The matter of heading in the US has been covered by others...Runway Heading means to maintain the magnetic(except in polar areas where True is used) heading which corresponds to the magnetic bearing of the runway. TERPS provides for situations where drift would create an obstacle clearance or other problem(primary/secondary OCA areas) and in critical situations the departure procedure would not specify heading
but direct(or via a navaid derived course) to a fix.

The confusion on this point is scary...maybe the solution would be
"maintain heading (the runway bearing)" instead of "maintain runway heading".

1st Feb 2004, 13:30
Nicely solved this one.

However, anyone dare to start a proper and separate new post on the "new" ICAO R/T "taxi to holding positon (runway 24), ergo the wise states (UK, Swiss, Germany...???) who decided not to adopt, since it bears a tempting and deadly resemblance to [I]"taxi into positon (runway 24) and hold"[I] sooo familiar to our U.S. trained collegues? ???

Tim Zukas
29th Feb 2004, 08:25
"in all the departure charts that I have seen in recent times I am not aware of any published procedure that says "Maintain Runway Heading" (I await the inevitable example!)."

Another one: if you look at the NOAA chart for the Oakland Five departure at KOAK (www.myairplane.com has the one from December) it says "Climb via runway heading or as assigned..." This is the usual departure for aircraft destined north or east; I'd say fewer than 1% of departures are assigned a heading.