Welcome to the NavList Message Boards.


A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

Compose Your Message

Add Images & Files
    Re: Solstice Sun Lines
    From: Bruce J. Pennino
    Date: 2017 Dec 27, 09:37 -0500
    Hello All:
    If I followed some of this correctly, I gather there are planes on exactly the same path; an available very wide path, but all behind each other.  Even with warning systems, required safe distances, etc, it seems like it would be easy to program a “scatter “ factor for routes between fixed destinations.  Different  planes, different companies, different scatter to space planes a few miles to left or right every other plane or something like that.
    Best wishes to all for a healthy, happy NEW YEAR!  Retirement is great when you have  a couple of real friends, family, a work or hobby with purpose, and some intellectual or physical  challenges to keep you occupied. Good luck for clear sailing , flying. and retirement.
    Bruce  located at a very wintry cold central New England 42 N 72 W  (more or less)
    Sent: Monday, December 25, 2017 5:38 PM
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Solstice Sun Lines

    re : DavidPike-dec-2017-g41024

    Dear David,

    First of all, many thanks for your early reply, and for your very kind words about my upcoming long haul aviation retirement. I am impressed to communicate with a former Vulcan Navigator.

    We fully agree on many points.

    Yes ! The "heights averager" is an excellent system to get rid of short period oscillations : phugoid, dutch roll, turbulence induced auto-Pilot corrections among others. I agree that a "two minute averaging" somewhat represents a good trade off between pilots' ability to fly constant heading and some minimum elapsed time to zeroize the mean values of all such short periodic oscillations, with the Dutch roll or the phugoid probably being the longest period ones (probably around 40 seconds on an Airbus 340 but almost entirely damped thanks to a system which is still certainly one of the best ones on the market today).

    About all of this we totally agree on.

    Flying exact and very accurate Great Circle Tracks was outside available technology at earlier times, and for this reason either pilots or autopilots had to fly rhumb lines, i.e. constant heading curves, which actually were not even constant "true" heading curves since magnetic variation could significantly change over a quarter of an hour in flight.

    When flying from point to point to-day which is the rule over the oceans Boeing or Airbus auto pilots no longer fly constant heading tracks - except when forced into HDG mode - but they rather fly Great Circles implying continuous very small heading changes. Only exception : North-South tracks anywhere and East-West tracks alongside the Equator. Great circles are nowadys followed extremely accurately.  The "horizontal wandering" is in the order of just a few meters, with so many "exactly on top" encounters between aircraft in the middle of the oceans, often confirmed by radio altimeter alarms to the higher aircraft. This happens even when we use "magnetic heading" because the auto-pilots follow exactly the same great circle between any 2 given points. Magnetic or True Heading display has become of by-product of very performing Great Circle flying and not conversely. As result to-day auto-pilots coupled to both Inertial Navigation Systems and quite accurate (+/- 10 m) Satellite Navigation, it has become possible to fly excellent great circles. So, i still think that rhumb line tracking corrections should simply be ignored for the currently universal cases of Great Circle tracking.

    However, one very important item was still missing and you named it : thank you very very much then for mentionning the Coriolis Acceleration. For interested readers, it is an acceleration due to the Earth Rotation and it is always perpendicular in space to the speed vector. It is absolutely insignificant for most naval applications, but it has quite sizeable effects on Aircraft given their much higher speeds.

    I have come to the conclusion that I had wrongly ignored the Coriolis Acceleration in my earlier post.

    Hence, as a final result, if the corrections linked to following a rhumb line are simply to be dropped as regards modern Airliners following "perfect" Great Circles, the Coriolis lateral displacement effects on apparent vertical always need to be accounted for. Do you agree ?

    Best Regards,


    View and reply to this message

    Browse Files

    Drop Files


    What is NavList?

    Join NavList

    (please, no nicknames or handles)
    Do you want to receive all group messages by email?
    Yes No

    You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

    Posting Code

    Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.

    Email Settings

    Posting Code:

    Custom Index

    Start date: (yyyymm dd)
    End date: (yyyymm dd)

    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site