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-   -   Flying TRACK iso HEADING (https://www.pprune.org/tech-log/639445-flying-track-iso-heading.html)

sputnik01 23rd Mar 2021 09:13

4.1.3 IFR Vectoring instructions, in upper Airspace (above FL245 PBN/RNAV)

For ATC separation, flying a TRACK is for several reasons much superior to flying the legacy HEADING (precision and automatic wind drift correction).

How easy is it on your airliner/GA flight deck (except A320) / for your flight crews to adapt and
FLY TRACK (three digits), iso FLY HEADING (three digits)?

Thanks for your input.

Qwark 23rd Mar 2021 09:33

I guess it depends if your flying a C172 or Airbus! Flying a defined track in a C172 could be challenging.

vilas 23rd Mar 2021 10:11

If ATC gives you heading you must fly heading and not track because his vectoring caters for drift etc. If there's a cross wind and instruction is to maintain RW hdg after takeoff flying the track may close in onto parallel RW traffic.

Uplinker 23rd Mar 2021 10:17

Airbus FBW heading selector has two modes: One maintains a selected heading, the other maintains a selected track. The track mode automatically adjusts for wind, as detected by the on-board ADIRS.

Very easy on Airbus !

As vilas says though, the assertion quoted by the OP about track versus heading is a bit suspect - I have rarely been asked by ATC to follow a track. Always headings.

KayPam 23rd Mar 2021 10:51

OP is precisely questioning this practise, and wondering why they don't ask to fly tracks.
You can't say that they don't ask to fly tracks because they ask to fly headings, that's a circular argument.

Uplinker 23rd Mar 2021 11:50

OP has just edited his initial post. It isn't clear who is making the Track vs HDG assertion.

It is still not stated what document this is taken from and what authority they have. It could be the OPs own notes ?!

tolip1 23rd Mar 2021 12:01

It doesn't matter, it's an interesting discussion point.

All IFR aircraft need to be able to follow a track, to follow defined arrivals and approaches. Why not get vectored that way too?

Vessbot 23rd Mar 2021 13:23

The ability to follow a VOR radial or localizer, does not give the ability to fly an arbitrary track from an arbitrary point.

rudestuff 23rd Mar 2021 13:30

Very easy in a Boeing. P/P360 would give you a pink string to follow north. But as mentioned above, no one's likely to ask you to do that.

Equivocal 23rd Mar 2021 17:15

I've been out of operational controlling for many years but back in my day I sometimes put an aircraft on a track, usually DCT to a specific point, but sometimes also to fly an offset to that track for separation purposes. From the controller perspective I would suggest (nothing has changed in the intervening years), if it suits the situation, use the technique. As pointed out earlier, not all aircraft are able easily to set up a TRK to a random point so don't use tracks if any of the aircraft are unlikely to be able to do it easily. Never had any problems either if an aircraft requested a particular track and I vectored other aircraft on headings - that said, I didn't do all this in high density traffic, but if it's that busy I would expect aircraft to be following defined routes and I wouldn't be doing any vectoring.

NGjockey 24th Mar 2021 07:06

Engine Failure Procedures Track or Heading?
Using the BOEING OPT, what does it mean when the engine failure procedure calls for maintaining a certain number of degrees after departure? Does that number refer to TRACK or HDG?

Here's a specific example:

The engine failure procedure for the departure on runway 07R in HKG is depicted as follows: "At D3,0 SMT LEFT turn to 065. Intercept OUBD R-105 LKC. At D9,5 LKC RIGHT turn to 185."

Are the numbers 065 and 185 HEADINGS or TRACKS? I remember that the procedure design is including a certain amount of omnidirectional wind (30 knots if I am not mistaken), so a certain amount of drift is factored into the design. Common sense would certainly dictate that this is flown as a TRACK to be more accurate, but is there a binding LEGAL definition somewhere?

Much obliged

ScepticalOptomist 25th Mar 2021 00:42

Procedures are designed with wind components taken into account. You can safely fly heading. Nothing wrong with flying as track either.

vilas 25th Mar 2021 04:10

If there's large crosswind it will make a difference. If everyone else is drifting downwind an aircraft flying track will get into them. You have to do what ATC wants you to do.

Capt Fathom 25th Mar 2021 10:42

Vilas. The last couple of posts are about engine out tracks! Not what ATC want you to do!

aterpster 25th Mar 2021 12:04

Originally Posted by tolip1 (Post 11014643)
It doesn't matter, it's an interesting discussion point.

All IFR aircraft need to be able to follow a track, to follow defined arrivals and approaches. Why not get vectored that way too?

Lots of small airplanes still flying the system that don't have RNAV/GPS.

Having said that, what about getting rid of magnetic headings and courses? That would make management of the system a whole lot easier.

Denti 25th Mar 2021 12:05

I second that, as far as i know most of the merchant marine has switched to purely true a long time ago.

TopBunk 25th Mar 2021 12:54

While flying true tracks would probably be the gold standard, surely until every aircraft using the airspace can do that you have to cater for those that can't?

tolip1 25th Mar 2021 13:45


Yes, but these planes/pilots will still be required to, and have the ability to, adjust for wind and fly a track. That was the point I was making.

aterpster 25th Mar 2021 14:01

Track is alien to controllers. They want heading. My company issued a bulletin on it in 1984 when I moved from the 727 to the 767.

Vessbot 25th Mar 2021 14:09

Those airplanes are not required to, and do not have the ability to, fly a track.

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