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Latitude and Longitude (Meridians and Parallels) – Deviation

by Flight Learnings

in Navigation

Determining the magnetic heading is an intermediate step necessary to obtain the correct compass heading for the flight. To determine compass heading, a correction for deviation must be made. Because of magnetic influences within an aircraft such as electrical circuits, radio, lights, tools, engine, and magnetized metal parts, the compass needle is frequently deflected from its normal reading. This deflection is deviation. The deviation is different for each aircraft, and it also may vary for different headings in the same aircraft. For instance, if magnetism in the engine attracts the north end of the compass, there would be no effect when the plane is on a heading of magnetic north. On easterly or westerly headings, however, the compass indications would be in error, as shown in Figure 15-11. Magnetic attraction can come from many other parts of the aircraft; the assumption of attraction in the engine is merely used for the purpose of illustration.

Figure 15-11. Magnetized portions of the airplane cause the compass to deviate from its normal indications.

Figure 15-11. Magnetized portions of the airplane cause the compass to deviate from its normal indications.

Some adjustment of the compass, referred to as compensation, can be made to reduce this error, but the remaining correction must be applied by the pilot.

Proper compensation of the compass is best performed by a competent technician. Since the magnetic forces within the aircraft change, because of landing shocks, vibration, mechanical work, or changes in equipment, the pilot should occasionally have the deviation of the compass checked. The procedure used to check the deviation (called “swinging the compass”) is briefly outlined.

The aircraft is placed on a magnetic compass rose, the engine started, and electrical devices normally used (such as radio) are turned on. Tailwheel-type aircaft should be jacked up into flying position. The aircraft is aligned with magnetic north indicated on the compass rose and the reading shown on the compass is recorded on a deviation card. The aircraft is then aligned at 30° intervals and each reading is recorded. If the aircraft is to be flown at night, the lights are turned on and any significant changes in the readings are noted. If so, additional entries are made for use at night.

The accuracy of the compass can also be checked by comparing the compass reading with the known runway headings.

A deviation card, similar to Figure 15-12, is mounted near the compass, showing the addition or subtraction required to correct for deviation on various headings, usually at intervals of 30°. For intermediate readings, the pilot should be able to interpolate mentally with sufficient accuracy. For example, if the pilot needed the correction for 195° and noted the correction for 180° to be 0° and for 210° to be +2°, it could be assumed that the correction for 195° would be +1°. The magnetic heading, when corrected for deviation, is known as compass heading.

Figure 15-12. Compass deviation card.

Figure 15-12. Compass deviation card.

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