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What is runway heading?

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What is runway heading?

Old 29th Jan 2004, 22:21
  #41 (permalink)  
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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?
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Old 30th Jan 2004, 12:11
  #42 (permalink)  

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Heading is Heading

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.
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Old 30th Jan 2004, 16:57
  #43 (permalink)  
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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?

Its 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.
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Old 30th Jan 2004, 17:26
  #44 (permalink)  
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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.

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Old 30th Jan 2004, 17:50
  #45 (permalink)  
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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!!
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Old 30th Jan 2004, 23:42
  #46 (permalink)  
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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?
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Old 31st Jan 2004, 00:41
  #47 (permalink)  
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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

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Old 31st Jan 2004, 01:02
  #48 (permalink)  
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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?
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Old 31st Jan 2004, 23:34
  #49 (permalink)  
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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.
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Old 1st Feb 2004, 08:45
  #50 (permalink)  

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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.
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Old 1st Feb 2004, 10:19
  #51 (permalink)  

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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".
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Old 1st Feb 2004, 12:30
  #52 (permalink)  

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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? ???
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Old 29th Feb 2004, 07:25
  #53 (permalink)  
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Another example

"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.
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