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Teaching GPS as the primary means of navigation for the PPL

I did not want to threadnapp the 200k€ aircraft thread, so perhaps we can discuss here.

First of all, EASA makes it very clear that the usage of GNSS is part of any PPL(A) and LAPL(A) training:

AMC1 FCL.120 (Syllabus for the theoretical knowledge for the PPL-A and LAPL(A))

GNSS
GPS, GLONASS OR GALILEO
Principles
Operation
Errors and accuracy
Factors affecting accuracy

AMC1 FCL.110.A (flight instruction for LAPL(A))


(xxiv) Exercise 18c: Radio navigation (basics):
(A) use of GNSS or VOR/ADF:
(a) selection of waypoints or stations;
(b) to or from indications and orientation;
(c) error messages.

AMC1 FCL.210.A (flight instruction for the PPL-A)

 (xxiv) Exercise 18c: Radio navigation:
(A) use of GNSS:
(a) selection of waypoints;
(b) to or from indications and orientation;
(c) error messages.

When I start the navigation lessons, at first I do not use the GPS. The basics of navigation have to be known and understood and the basic principles can be shown very effective with paper, compass and a watch. Plus, even on a moving map this would be a fall-back, that does work, even if the GPS should fail. On the next flights I add all other navigation devices at hand: ADF (if there is one), VOR, DME (if there is one), GPS (including use and differences between the CDI of a GPS and a VOR, Vertical guidance (if applicable)) and of couse useage of VDF / ATC vectors. By the time, the student get’s to go solo cross country, he has to be able to operate every box that is installed in the aircraft. I think it’s very silly to have something built in but not be able to use it. Unfortunately, they aren’t allowed to use their cellphones, tablets or any other mobile GPS devices for the exam, but I demonstrate at least SkyDemon and FlyIsFun to my students. (I think it’s important to have different software on tablet and phone for redundancy reasons). If no GPS is built in the training aircraft, I’ll use a GPS296 or 196. Works for the principles of GPS navigation.

That said, I see no use in teaching the operation of all possible boxes, as they differ a lot in menus and capabilities. Depends a bit on the student, too. One of my students does his last part of flight training in his PA28-181 he just bought. It is equipped with an AP and a GPS155XL and I insist of using it (both actually) including the possible failure modes and necessary checks. And I insist on him being able to use and understand his systems, since he will spend a lot of time flying with them. An other student wants to go directly to CPL/IR. It is important that she will understand the basic principles, but I think she won’t spend much time behind a Garmin 100. So no use to “litter” flight training when you could emphasize things, she actually might need.

Are there really schools that do get away with not teaching the GPS? After all it is rightfully part of the syllabus and very reasonable to teach. (Yes, I do still enjoy flying just with a map, a magnetic compass and a stopwatch. But that’s mostly for fun – and not because I’d think it’d be the only way to navigate).

Last Edited by mh at 25 Nov 22:01
mh
Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany

I learned to fly on a Katana fleet that was equipped with Garmin 430s. Well deep into my training I was wondering if my flight instructor would ever tell me about it until I kept pushing him to show me how it works. He showed me the very basics: zooming in/out, nearest airport, selecting a waypoint. We’ve never programmed an entire flight plan or used any of the more “advanced features”. I’ve been told to use it only when I get lost and to rely mainly on dead reckoning / VOR navigation.

As an engineer I knew this was total nonsense, but I followed his agenda kept telling myself: it’s fine to do it the old fashion way in training – at least I’ll appreciate how good we have it now with all this technology. Right after training I switched to GPS only navigation using Skydemon and the Garmin as a backup. Months later my flight instructor confessed to me privately that GPS navigation has a lot of advantages but he wants his students to learn navigation the pure way to prepare them for an eventual gps failure.

LOLW - Wels, Austria

This thread also picks up from here

The following was previously posted, on the topic of GPS in PPL training

[from Germany]I have a problem imagining UK FTOs all violating Part FCL training requirements. It’s clearly spelled out.

I have just got this from one UK instructor who has been involved on the UK scene at every level:

I’ve just heard a much worse story from another friend but I need confirmation that it can be posted – it needs to be dis-identified.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I did my PPL in a UK club and from stories I have heard I was very lucky with my training and was taught quite well how to fly properly and not just what was “needed for the skills test”. This didn’t however include GPS. The problem was pretty much as described above. One aircraft was fitted with G1000 system. Another was fitted with a 430. Another was fitted with something else (don’t know the name, quite basic, no moving map or anything just a digital representation of CDI to a waypoint). Then there were some with none fitted. Out of these not all of them had up to date databases (I think the g1000 and 430 did… maybe). So here was the problem that the different instructors (many of which were part time being a club and not a school) would have to be proficient in all the systems, teach proficiency in one when the lesson came about, then see the student get into another aircraft the next day with a different system, and then maybe they go for the test with a different one again or none at all. It simply wasn’t practical.

Pirho wrote:

So here was the problem that the different instructors (many of which were part time being a club and not a school) would have to be proficient in all the systems, teach proficiency in one when the lesson came about, then see the student get into another aircraft the next day with a different system, and then maybe they go for the test with a different one again or none at all.

If the instructors can’t keep up with the changes of aircraft, how can they expect that their students can? We don’t change planes much with certain parts of flight instruction, because even a F150M, F172H and C172P differ in systems and layout, so the student needs too much attention on the different plane, to learn the lesson at hand. Even more while changing from G1000 to classic six pack and back again in a few flights.

mh
Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany

The instructors are fine with the different aircraft, they are all C172s just with different insides. More often than not the student will not switch between glass and analogue during the training but there are a fair few who want to ‘try’ something different for a few lessons and this is allowed. The point I was trying to make is that the instructors are not all experts in each of the different navigation systems available in the aircraft and the reason is that they don’t really need to be. Of course it would be nice to teach the GPS stuff properly but as was mentioned by someone else above, the majority of a PPL will be completed and expected to be completed without using one. If the examiners at the club were to start testing students on GPS proficiency then the students would need to either stick to one reg aircraft for the duration of GPS familiarisation and testing or be proficient in all the systems which is beyond the scope of the course really. In this particular club trying to get every student to stick to one particular aircraft would be highly complicated as often members will take aircraft away for extended periods or mx will intervene and might effectively ground a student for weeks when at the minute they just use the next aircraft which is exactly the same apart from the panel GPS (and for the G1000 aircraft obviously there are other differences).

Just got this from another UK PPL friend:

I also just got this from a UK instructor/examiner:

I am surprised how few UK instructors have commented. I know many of them read EuroGA.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

When and if RFs become ATOs they will be required to include all these items in their Training Manual, but that is not before 2018.

In Germany, many RFs have become ATOs already. AOPA has helped a lot by providing an Operations Manual that has been accepted by the regional authorities without too much hassle. Took me just about one week (spare time) to adopt the OMM.

Peter wrote:

In my experience, the average student has little knowledge of any of these items. The inability to obtain a VDF bearing is also shown up in the RTF test!

That is why there are flight instructors…

You could argue if the use of an ADFs and DME is to be taught with the same effort, compared to VORs or GPS. The VOR will probably stay for quite a long time and GPS will be main source of radio navigation. I like ADFs, because I can easily utilize them. But if they phase out, there is little use to teach them in depth. A DME is rare in VFR aircraft and not too complicated, not to put them into transition training to an aircraft that is equipped with a DME. I would not think that the AMC demands equal attention to all of those items.

mh
Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany

Dominik wrote:

We’ve never programmed an entire flight plan or used any of the more “advanced features”.

As far as I can understand, the problem with these (panel-mounted) systems if you want to really use them for VFR is that they require you to plan your trip beforehand and have a way to transfer the plan to the navigator before flight (SD card, WiFi, Bluetooth), or spend a lot of time with the master switch on prior to departure to program the plan.

So for VFR the best option is something like ANP, SD or similar on a mobile device, isn’t it?

LFPT, LFPN

Of course it would be nice to teach the GPS stuff properly but as was mentioned by someone else above, the majority of a PPL will be completed and expected to be completed without using one. If the examiners at the club were to start testing students on GPS proficiency then the students would need to either stick to one reg aircraft for the duration of GPS familiarisation and testing or be proficient in all the systems which is beyond the scope of the course really.

What Pirho said reflects my experience as well. During training, the 152’s only had a super basic GPS and I actually found it easier to navigate the old fashioned way – more intuitive, but these were shortish nav’s where you are looking for identifiable features outside. One instructor was an SD fan and he would use it to show me how well (or bad) I tracked my course, whilst also telling me that if I invested in any useful aviation kit, I should buy SD. There did seem to be an unspoken focus in general that there was not enough time to teach it properly although most instructors would fire it up and talk me through it – quickly as we taxied to the hold.

Post PPL, I had to somewhat teach myself (I can’t remember who gave that great and memorable quote on another thread on fool’s master, but well noted and great quote!) I played with Airspace Aware (more about avoiding CAS than navigation) and ANP (OK, but clunky). I ended up downloading the 430 manual and sitting in a PA28 on my own and sometimes grabbing an instructor, but probably the best training was flying with another forum member and taking turns “playing” with the 430 from the RHS which was actually quite a useful way to learn how to use it in a live environment.

When we did the mandatory “cross-channel check” with an instructor (yes, this is a separate topic), the instructor talked us through the 430 as he programmed in VOR’s so he seemed to know how to use it.

Now, I fly an Annex 2 (when something is not broken on it) which has no panel mounted GPS. Interestingly, when I flew with one of the airfields instructors when I was checking out on it, he told me not to bother planning but simply follow the motorway west until I got to a big town then turn right and look for the funny shaped lakes and then the destination airfield- an enjoyable 45 minute flight, but I do prefer having at least SD as back-up if going further.

So back to the OP: my experience was yes it was taught, it was not taught in detail, I would have struggled to use it “decisively” on gaining the PPL, but I knew enough of the basics to then build on it – in my own time.

CKN
EGLM (White Waltham)
78 Posts
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