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What is runway heading?

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What is runway heading?

Old 5th Jan 2004, 21:00
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Question What is runway heading?

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?

Old 5th Jan 2004, 21:22
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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.
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 21:23
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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!
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 21:53
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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.
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 21:54
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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.
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 22:01
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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.
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 22:10
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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.
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 22:25
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What is Runway Heading?

<< ... 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
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 23:04
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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.
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 23:21
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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.

Old 5th Jan 2004, 23:33
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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....
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 23:59
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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!
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 01:18
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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...
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 02:02
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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...
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 02:07
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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.
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 05:50
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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
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 05:56
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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.
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 06:15
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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 !
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 14:15
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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.
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 15:18
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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.
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