Archive for May, 2009

Airways vs Waypoints

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

I’m wondering if other pilots are having any challenges with ATC still living in the VHF airways world when most of us have moved into GPS point-to-point Nav. I was IFR in a busy terminal area navigating to a flight plan waypoint when ATC requested an intercept to Victor XXX and to proceed on course.

The Garmin 480 is arguably one of the most capable and most complex units of the last generation FMSs and required several button pushes to get it thinking the same way the controller was. It also required me to open a neatly folded chart to get the bearing of the airway to effect said programming. While I was wallpapering the cockpit with chart, the controller very politely and efficiently suggested a heading of 030 to get on with it.

That got me to thinking about three ways to handle this:

1. Carry the charts, prefolded at the ready, as we used to do
2. Switch the MFD over to IFR map mode and intercept the appropriate airway, then go back and reconfigure the GPS.
3. Ask ATC to start using RNAV language for GPS equipped aircraft (which is most of us these days). We can navigate direct to any waypoint on the planet, so why not just send us to ZZZZZ? That will require some procedural changes but seems like it might be time to adapt to the not-so-new world.

The temporary fix is to ask for a vector while getting things sorted out and maybe that’s the best short term solution As the next generation of avionics starts to make things much easier much of this will become moot. Just wondered how the rest of you were fairing in this transition.