PDA

View Full Version : NDBs


ProM
7th Apr 2009, 10:49
Does anyone (commercial, light or mil) actually still find these useful over busy territory - say UK and Western Europe?

With GPS, INS, VOR, DME etc are they still needed?

fox niner
7th Apr 2009, 11:02
They are useless.

In Europe and America VOR coverage is available.
In Africa, they are either U/S of the ADF is pointing to the nearest rain shower.

Besides, we would rather select an RNAV approach. (This is GPS+FMS)
Actually following those needles requires HDG SEL + V/S in the B777.

ProM
7th Apr 2009, 11:04
Mods. I deliberatly didn't put it in here (or ATC) because i wanted pilots views. How many pilots come into ground ops on a regular basis? certainly not the mil pilots that I explicitly included. can it be moved back please?

Chesty Morgan
7th Apr 2009, 11:09
I use them if they are available, RMI needles, whether I'm doing anything from a GPS approach to a visual.

I struggle to understand why you wouldn't want to display a servicable navaid, it's just another level of situational awareness isn't it?

mad_jock
7th Apr 2009, 11:10
Well I use the airfield ones on a daily basis.

Great for SA, working out when to bring the speed back, when to turn in on a visual and its on the otherside of the aircraft and the sun is in your eyes.

Wouldn't miss the enroute ones but definitely would the middle of the field NDB's. The ones on a 4 mile final are a bit of a waste of space these days though.

golfyankeesierra
7th Apr 2009, 11:39
It's true that on an EFIS equiped aircraft you don't use them as often anymore, unless the ILS is of the air and suddenly you get n VOR?DME approach. Then suddenly you have to go back to raw data on one side (as a lot of manufacturers/airlines prescribe) and when you use the old ROSE display, a locator beacon is the ideal tool for closure rate to the radial.

411A
7th Apr 2009, 11:58
I struggle to understand why you wouldn't want to display a servicable navaid, it's just another level of situational awareness isn't it?

Why indeed, CM, and I think the real reason some folks don't like 'em is....they have absolutely no idea how to use them effectively.
Look at the very nasty Cali Colombia American Airlines accident some years ago.
These prats were cleared directly toward an airfield beacon, dialed up something totally opposite in their FMS, and promply flew right into a hill, killing everyone.
The captain had 12,000 hours...twelve thousand friggin' hours, and he couldn't be bothered to dial up the airfield beacon and proceed accordingly.
More than likely....didn't know how.
About time these turkeys were locked in a sim (without their multi-thousand dollar salaries) until they find out.:(

what next
7th Apr 2009, 11:59
Hello!

It's true that on an EFIS equiped aircraft you don't use them as often anymore, unless the ILS is of the air and suddenly you get n VOR?DME approach. Then suddenly you have to go back to raw data on one side (as a lot of manufacturers/airlines prescribe) and when you use the old ROSE display, a locator beacon is the ideal tool for closure rate to the radial.

Well, I would say it's third in line for the ideal tools for closure rate, the ideal tool being the flight director :) ... the second best being the GPS/INS/whatever-position of the NBD and only then the NDB itself.

When instructing, I am still required to teach NDB approches. There are not many left now in our vicinity (none at our homebase). One of them is so poorly calibrated, that on most approaches at minimum you will find yourself right overhead a church spire that is about a mile left of centreline. I have reported this to the authorities more than once already, but they don't seem to care, obviously apart from us trainers nobody uses them anyway.

If you want my vote: Get rid of these things NOW. The sooner, the better. They are the most unsafe means of navigation, because they are both imprecise and difficult to steer by.

Greetings, Max

411A
7th Apr 2009, 12:22
One of them is so poorly calibrated, that on most approaches at minimum you will find yourself right overhead a church spire that is about a mile left of centreline.

You might want to revisit your dog and pony show that describes your flight instruction, what next....NDB's are not 'calibrated' in the sense that a VOR might be, however the signal can be distorted by ground objects...or...a poorly functioning receiver/indicator in the airplane.:rolleyes:

D O Guerrero
7th Apr 2009, 12:29
Well I tune them in on a more than daily basis in a 737NG. It confirms what the FMS is doing and makes me feel better about my SA. Don't use them if you don't want to, but many of us don't have a problem with their existence!

ShyTorque
7th Apr 2009, 12:37
In our aircraft (corporate SPIFR helicopter) the NDB is always tuned to the most appropriate beacon, IFR or VFR, and it's used accordingly. The equipment does have its well known limitations but it is still of use.

Sciolistes
7th Apr 2009, 12:43
Agree with Chesty Morgan,

After a my HSI failed using my IR skill test I never leave a needle untuned.

Use them all the time enroute and terminal area unless we are doing a VOR approach. When enroute with the FMS auto tuning it is nice to see the RDMI saying you are where the FMS says you are and if they don't then a quick nav check and look for reasons why. In my experience, when in range during the day their accuracy is acceptable. I also often monitor the ADF on approach, they do wave around a bit but I can see in comparison to the ILS or VOR that they are sufficient for a safe approach.

AerocatS2A
7th Apr 2009, 13:09
I have done twice as many VOR approaches as ILSs, and I've done twice as many NDBs as VORs. So yeah, I use it a bit, it's the only ground based aid at the airport I was based at for 4 years. That's Australia for ya! I actually find them to be quite comforting to fly, stooging outbound, or maybe around the DME arc, making small allowances for the coastal refraction down final, and coming out the bottom on slope and on centreline! (Or at least with minimal maneuvering required ;))

what next
7th Apr 2009, 13:17
Hello!

411A: NDB's are not 'calibrated' in the sense that a VOR might be, however the signal can be distorted by ground objects...or...a poorly functioning receiver/indicator in the airplane.

I know, Sir. But I didn't want to write a whole page of text book here, if all I wanted to say could be described with one simple word. And there are calibration flights for NDB approaches too, so the word "calibrated" is not too far off anyway. The signal seems to be distorted by ground objects in this case, as the described error shows with all our training aircraft.

Greetings, Max

BTW: Did I insult you in any way, so that you need to ridicule me?

PENKO
7th Apr 2009, 15:48
NDB's are still part of a large number of SIDs and STARs, so there is no question, they are still useful. You have no choice. Having said that, 411a, what beacon do you use when you are cleared for a GNSS approach?

hawker750
7th Apr 2009, 16:06
I find that pilots who know how to use them properly like them, it is only those who have never fully mastered the art who rubbish them. Try doing a raw data non efis approach into Vnukova without one or preferably two of them. If you do try, at the very least the Air Trafficers will have a good laugh at your expense.
My advice is learn how to use them and one day you may be glad you did

nick14
7th Apr 2009, 16:18
I have always been of the opinion and it was stressed to us during training, know your equipment, its there to help you out.

As long as you understand the kit and its limitations, exercise some caution when prevailing conditions are not suitable, then they are another important and useful tool for us.

I always use the NDB's for SA whether VMC or IMC, as people have said they are useful in approaches for giving you an indication of where you are in the pattern and in thier own right, if a little wobbly sometimes.

Nick

Cravenmorehead
7th Apr 2009, 16:30
We use them lots in Australia/PNG/Pacific/NZ /Indonesia etc. As said by others previously great tool for SA. Great for accurately flying DME arcs, useful for instrument approaches, Locators are low powered NDB's are they not? The RMI on most can be selected to either ADF or RMI hence 2 tools in one me thinks.
What if GPS is for some reason out of commision ie during a War or North Korea manage to take them out with a nasty spy satellite (a bit far fetched I suppose). Maybe some sort of terrorist attack etc. Who knows 911 was afterall a wee bit of a shock to the Yanks was it not; anything is possible.
Just a perspective from down under.
Cheers

RoyHudd
7th Apr 2009, 23:14
Handy in the icy wastes of Northern Canada. Good range on them too.

john_tullamarine
7th Apr 2009, 23:33
.. and, if you really have your back against the wall and the Lady Luck SA fairy has deserted you .. the ADF can use the local AM radio broadcast station .. perhaps even getting you out of the tight spot you let yourself get into ..

pithblot
8th Apr 2009, 03:27
In Australia most RAAF bases had a high powered NDB. Darwin had a good one that was (is?) useful for getting the ATIS on the ground at Elcho Island or, at a pinch, Ambon. One wet season in the 80's I was able to learn that the weather in Darwin was pretty bad and the ILS had been struck by lightning - thanks to the NDB.

HercDriver
8th Apr 2009, 03:34
well ....i like em..... but I cut my teeth fly hercules aircraft from the early sixties all over South America, Europe and Africa.... ya damn well better have been able to use an NDB for approaches and enroute.....:ok:

inner
8th Apr 2009, 07:06
Even in times with gps and fms i still use them, especially for an approach, to have situational awareness. So i hope that they will stay for a while.

But i guess an adf is like a woman: every second it changes its opinion;)

Basil
8th Apr 2009, 11:10
After leaving the RAF I briefly flew an Aztec, part based at a grass field in the NE of England. The pundit was a home made perspex box containing a jumble of recycled green discharge tubes.
They also enterprisingly operated an MF transmitter, into the legality of which I refrained from prying. Together with cross cuts from a conveniently located VOR it made a very decent approach aid which, of course, I never used whilst on public transport operations.

What am I getting at? Well whilst the NDB has its limits, of which all instrument rated pilots should be aware, it is a cheap and easy navaid to install and use.

I must say, when I started flying a few years ago I thought that, by the turn of the century, NDBs and HF radio would be things of the past.

Dan Winterland
8th Apr 2009, 14:58
Which just goes to show that it all depends on what sort of operation you are employed on. In my world, NDB approaches exist, but if we use them, it's very rare and we wouldn't do it unless the FMC says that it's accuracy is 'HIGH', probably derived from the GPS element of the Multi Mode Receiver. So it essence, it's a RNAV approach. In fact, if there isn't an RNAV overlay published for the approach we wouldn't be doing it as the approach wouldn't be in the FMC database. We have to have the needle displayed, but it could just be the head of the needle superimposed on the NAV display. Essentially, we are doing the approach onto a position which happens to have the beacon there and for which there is a published procedure. It's effectively no different to the GPS/RNAV approaches we do into some of our destinations.


And on the Airbus, we would probably fly a 'Managed Approach' which to all intents and purposes is very similar to a Flight Directed ILS. It's very easy - and very safe. Which in this day and age is what air transport is all about.