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Aircraft Communications and

Navigation Systems:
Principles, Operation and Maintenance
Weather radar and ILS antennas in the
nose radome of a Boeing 757 aircratf
Aircraft Communications and
Navigation Systems:
Principles, Operation and Maintenance

Mike Tooley and David Wyatt

An imprint ofElsevier
, . .

,. .

. .
' ; ,• -

Aircraft Communications and Navigation Systems

Tooley and Wyatt

An Imprint ofElsevier . . '

Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 SDP, UK

30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 0 1 803, U SA

© 2007, Mike Tooley and David Wyatt, Published by Elsevier

I Original ISBN : 978-0-7506-8 1 377

All rights reserved.

· No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any

means-electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any
information storage and retrieval system-without permission in writing from the

First Printed in India 2009

Indian Reprint ISBN: 978-8 1 -3 1 2-2043-6

This edition is for sale in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan,
Sri Lanka and designated countries in South-East Asia through Elsevier (Singapore)
Pte. Ltd. Sale and purchase of this book outside of these countires is unauthorised
by the publisher.

Published by Elsevier, a division of Reed Elsevier India Private Limited,

Logix Park, I st Floor, A-4 & A-5, Sector 1 6, NOIDA-2 0 1 3 0 1 (India).

Printed and bound at Saurabh Printers Pvt. Ltd.

A- 1 6, SectoriV, NOIDA 201 301 .

Preface xi
Acknowledgements xiv

·Online resources xiv

Chapter 1 Introduction 1
1.1 The radio frequency spectrum 1
1 .2 E lectromagnetic waves 3
1 .3 Frequency and wavelength 4
1 .4 The atmosphere 4
1 .5 Radio wave propagation 5
1 .6 The ionosphere 7
1 .7 MUFand LUF 10
1 .8 Silent zone and skip distance 12
1 .9 Multiple choice questions 13

Chapter 2 Antennas 15
2. 1 The isotropic radiator 15
2 .2 The half-wave dipole 16
2.3 Impedance and radiation resistance 18
2.4 Radiated power and efficiency 19
2.5 Antenna gain 19
2.6 The Yagi beam antenna 20
2.7 Directional characteristics 22
2.8 Other practical antennas 24
2.9 Feeders 28
2.10 Connectors 32
2. 1 1 Standing wave ratio 33
2. 1 2 Waveguide 38
2. 1 3 Multiple choice questions 39

Chapter 3 Transmitters and receivers 41

3.1 A simple radio system 41
3.2 Modulation and demodulation 42
3 .3 AM transmitters 43
3.4 FM transmitters 44
3 .5 Tuned radio frequency receivers 45
3.6 Superhet receivers 46
3 .7 Selectivity 47
3 .8 Image channel rejection 50
3 .9 Automatic gain control 51
3.10 Double superhet receivers 51
3. 1 1 Digital frequency synthesis 53
3.12 A design example 55
3.13 Multiple choice questions 59
vi Contents

Chapter 4 VHF communications 61

4.1 VHF range and propagation 61
4.2 DSB modulation 62
4.3 Channel spacing 63
4.4 Depth of modulation 63
4.5 Compression 64
4.6 Squelch 65
4.7 Data modes 65
4.8 A CARS 68
4.9 VHF radio equipment 70
4. 1 0 Multiple choice questions 72
Chapter 5 HF communications 73
5.1 HF range and propagation 73
5 .2 SSB modulation 74
5.3 SELCAL 76
5.4 H F data link 76
5 .5 HF radio equipment 80
5.6 H F antennas and coupling units 81
5.7 Multiple choice questions 84
Chapter 6 Flight-deck audio systems 85
6. 1 Flight interphone system 85
6.2 Cockpit voice recorder 90
6.3 Multiple choice questions 92
Chapter 7 Emergency 1ocator transmitters 93
7.1 Types of ELT 93
7.2 Maintenance and testing of ELT 94
7.3 ELT mounting requirements 95
7.4 Typical ELT 97
7.5 Cospas-Sarsat satellites 98
7.6 Multiple choice questions 100
Chapter 8 Aircraft navigation 101
8.1 The earth and navigation 101
8.2 Dead reckoning 1 04
8.3 Position fixing 1 05
8.4 Maps and charts .106
8.5 Navigation terminology 1 07
8.6 Navigation systems development 1 07
8.7 Navigation systems summary 1 14
8.8 Multiple choice questions 1 16
Chapter 9 Automatic direction fmder 117
9. 1 Introducing ADF 1 17
9.2 A D F principles 1 17
9.3 ADF equipment 1 18
9.4 Operational aspects of ADF 1 22
9.5 Multiple choice questions 1 25
Contents vii

Chapter 10 VHF omnidirectional range 1 27

10. 1 VOR principles 1 27
1 0.2 Airborne equipment 1 31
1 0.3 Operational aspects of VOR 136
1 0.4 Multiple choice questions 139
Chapter 11 Distance measuring equipment 141
1 1.1 Radar principles 141
1 1 .2 DME overview 142
1 1 .3 DME operation 143
1 1 .4 Equipment overview 143
1 1 .5 En route navigation using radio navigation aids 1 45
1 1 .6 Multiple choice questions 1 49
Chapter 12 Instrument landing system 151
12.1 ILS overview 151
12.2 ILS ground equipment 151
1 2.3 ILS airborne equipment 155
1 2.4 Low range radio altimeter 1 59
12.5 ILS approach 1 60
1 2.6 Auto land 1 60
1 2.7 Operational aspects of the ILS 161
1 2.8 Multiple choice questions 1 62
Chapter 13 M icrowave landing system 163
1 3 .1 MLS overview 163
1 3.2 MLS principles 163
1 3 .3 Aircraft equipment 166
1 3 .4 Ground equipment 168
1 3 .5 MLS summary 168
1 3.6 Multiple choice questions 168
Chapter 14 Hyperbolic radio navigation 171
14.1 Hyperbolic position fixing 171
1 4.2 Loran overview 1 73
1 4.3 Loran-C operation 1 73
1 4.4 Loran-C ground equipment 1 75
14.5 Loran-C airborne equipment 1 76
1 4.6 Enhanced Loran (eLoran) 1 77
1 4.7 Multiple choice questions 1 78
Chapter 15 Doppler navigation 179
1 5.1 The Doppler effect 1 79
1 5.2 Doppler navigation principles 1 79
1 5.3 Airborne equipment overview 1 83
15.4 Typical Doppler installations 184
1 5.5 Doppler summary 184
15.6 Other Doppler applications 185
1 5 .7 Multiple choice questions 1 86
viii Contents

Chapter 16 Area navigation 187

1 6. 1 RNAV overview 1 87
1 6.2 RNAV equipment 191
1 6.3 Kalman filters 1 96
1 6.4 Required navigation performance 1 98
1 6.5 Multiple choice questions 1 99
Chapter 17 Inertial navigation systems 201
1 7. 1 Inertial navigation principles 201
1 7.2 System overview 204
1 7.3 System description 204
1 7.4 Alignment process 211
1 7. 5 Inertial navigation accuracy 214
1 7.6 Inertial navigation summary 214
1 7. 7 System integration 214
1 7.8 Multiple choice questions 215
Chapter 18 Global navigation satellite system 217
1 8. 1 GPS overview 217
1 8.2 Principles of wave propagation 217
1 8.3 Satellite navigation principles 217
1 8.4 GPS segments 218
1 8.5 GPS signals 22 1
1 8.6 GPS operation 22 1
1 8. 7 Other GNSS 223
1 8.8 The future o f GNSS 224
1 8.9 Multiple choice questions 225
Chapter 19 Flight management systems 227
1 9. 1 FMS overview 227
1 9.2 Flight management computer system 227
1 9.3 System initialisation 230
1 9.4 FMCS operation 232
1 9.5 FMS summary 236
1 9.6 Multiple choice questions 237
Chapter 20 Weather radar 239
20. 1 System overview 239
20.2 Airborne equipment 240
20.3 Precipitation and turbulence 243
20.4 System enhancements 25 1
20.5 Lightning detection 25 1
20.6 Multiple choice questions 252
Chapter 21 Air traffic control system 253
21.1 ATC overview 253
2 1 .2 ATC transponder modes 254
2 1 .3 Airborne equipment 255
2 1 .4 System operation 256
2 1 .5 Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast 265
2 1 .6 Communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management 267
2 1 .7 Multiple choice questions 270
Contents ix

Chapter 22 Traffic alert and collision avoidance system 271

22.1 Airborne collision avoidance systems 27 1
22.2 TCAS overview 272
22.3 TCAS equipment 275
22.4 System operation 277
22.5 Multiple choice questions 283

Appendices 285
1 Abbreviations and acronyms 285
2 Revision papers 29 1
3 Answers 297
4 Decibels 303

Index 305

The books in this series have been designed for also describes the various mechanisms by which
both independent and tutor assisted studies. They radio waves propagate together with a detailed
are particularly useful to the 'self-starter' and to description of the behaviour of the ionosphere
those wishing to update or upgrade their aircraft and its effect on radio signals.
maintenance licence. The series also provides a Antennas are introduced in Chapter 2. This
useful source of reference for those taking ab chapter explains the principles of isotropic and
initio training programmes iri EASA Part 147 and directional radiating elements and introduces a
gAR 147 approved organisations as well as those number of important concepts including radiation
following related programmes in further and resistance, antenna impedance, radiated power,
higher education institutions. gain and efficiency. Several practical forms of
This book is designed to cover the essential antenna are described including dipoles, Yagi
knowledge base required by certifying mechanics, beam antennas, quarter wave (Marconi) antennas,
technicians and engineers engaged in engineering corner reflectors, horn and parabolic dish
maintenance activities on commercial aircraft. In radiators. Chapter 2 also provides an introduction
addition, this book should appeal to membe�s of to feeders (including coaxial cable and open-wire
the armed forces and others attending training and types), connectors and standing wave ratio
educational establishments engaged in aircraft (SWR). The chapter concludes with a brief
maintenance and related aeronautical engineering introduction to waveguide systems.
programmes (including BTEC National and Radio transmitters and receivers are the subject
Higher National units as well as City and Guilds of Chapter 3. This chapter provides. readers with
and NVQ courses). an introduction to the operating principles of AM
The book provides an introduction to the and FM transmitters as well as tuned radio

principles, operation and maintenance of aircraft frequency (TRF) and supersonic-heterodyne
communications and navigation systems. The aim (superhet) receivers. Selectivity, image channel
has been to make the subject material accessible rejection and automatic gain control (AGC) are
and presented in a form that can be readily important requirements of a modern radio
assimilated. The book provides syllabus coverage receiver and these topics are introduced before
of the communications and navigation section of . moving on to describe more complex receiving
Module 13 (ATA 23/34). The book assumes a equipment. Modern aircraft radio equipment is
basic understanding of aircraft flight controls as increasingly based on the use of digital frequency
well as an appreciation of electricity and synthesis and the basic principles of phase-locked
electronics (broadly equivalent to Modules 3 and loops and digital synthesisers are described and
4 of the EASA Part-66 syllabus). explained.
It is important to realise that this book is not Very high frequency (VHF) radio has long
designed to replace aircraft maintenance manuals. been the primary means of communication
Nor does it attempt to provide the level of detail between aircraft and the ground. Chapter 4
required by those engaged in the maintenance of describes the principles of VHF communications
specific aircraft types. Instead it has been (both voice and data). The chapter also provides
designed to convey the essential underpinning an introduction to the aircraft communication
knowledge required by all aircraft maintenance addressing and reporting system (ACARS).
engineers. High frequency (HF) radio provides aircraft
Chapter I sets the scene by providing an with an effective means of communicating over
explanation of electromagnetic wave propagation long distance oceanic and trans-polar routes. In
and the radio frequency spectrum. The chapter addition, global data communication has recently
xii Preface

been made possible using strategically located HF During the late 1 940s, it was evident to the
data link (HFDL) ground stations. Chapter 5 aviation world that an accurate and reliable short­
describes the principles of HF radio range navigation system was needed. Since radio
communication as well as the equipment and communication systems based on very high
technology used. frequency (VHF) were being successfully
As well as communication with ground deployed, a decision was made to develop a radio
stations, modem passenger aircraft require navigation system based on VHF. This system
facilities for local communication within the became the VHF omnidirectional range (VOR)
aircraft. Chapter 6 describes flight-deck audio system, and is described in Chapter 1 0. This
systems including the interphone system and all­ system is in widespread use throughout the world
important cockpit voice recorder (CVR) which today. VOR is the basis of the current network of
captures audio signals so that they can be later 'airways' that are used in navigation charts.
analysed in the event of a serious malfunction of Chapter 1 1 develops this theme with a system
the aircraft or of any of its systems. for measuring distance to a navigation aid. The
The detection and location of the site of an air advent of radar in the 1 940s led to the
crash is vitally important to the search and rescue development of a number of navigation aids
(SAR) teams and also to potential survivors. including distance measuring equipment (DME).
Chapter 7 describes the construction and This is a short/medium-range navigation system,
operation of emergency locator transmitters often used in conjunction with the VOR system to
(ELT) fitted to modem passenger aircraft. The provide accurate navigation fixes. The system is
chapter also provides a brief introduction to based on secondary radar principles.
satellite-based location techniques. ADF, VOR and DME navigation aids are
Chapter 8 introduces the subject of aircraft installed at airfields to assist with approaches to
navigation; this sets the scene for the remaining those airfields. These navigation aids cannot
chapters of the book. Navigation is the science of however be used for precision approaches and
conducting journeys over land and/or sea. This landings. The standard approach and landing
chapter reviews some basic features of the earth 's system installed at airfields around the world is
geometry as it relates to navigation, and the instrument landing system (ILS). Chapter 1 2
introduces some basic aircraft navigation describes how the ILS can be used for approach
terminology, e.g. latitude, longitude, dead through to autoland. The ILS uses a combination
reckoning etc. The chapter concludes by of VHF and UHF radio waves and has been in
reviewing a range of navigation systems used on operation since 1 946.
modem transport and military aircraft. Many Chapter 13 continues with the theme of guided
aircraft navigation systems utilise radio frequency approaches to an airfield. There are a number of
methods to determine a position fix; this links shortcomings with ILS; in 1 978 the microwave
very well into the previous chapters of the book landing system (MLS) was adopted as the long­
describing fundamental principles of radio term replacement. The system is based on the
transmitters, receivers and antennas. principle of time referenced scanning beams and .
Radio waves have directional characteristics as provides precision navigation guidance for
described in the early chapters of the book. This approach and landing. MLS provides three­
is the basis of the automatic direction finder dimensional approach guidance, i.e. azimuth,
(ADF); one of earliest forms of radio navigation elevation and range. The system provides
that is still in use today. ADF is a short-medium multiple approach angles for both azimuth and
range (200 nm) navigation system providing elevation guidance. Despite the advantages of
directional information. Chapter 9 looks at the MLS, it has not yet been introduced on a
historical background to radio navigation, worldwide basis for commercial aircraft. Milit;1ry
reviews some typical ADF hardware that is fitted operators of MLS often use mobile equipment
to modem commercial transport aircraft, and that can be deployed within hours.
concludes with some practical aspects associated Long-range radio navigation systems are
with the operational use of ADF. described in Chapter 1 4. These systems are based
Preface xiii

on hyperbolic navigation; they were introduced in Navigation by reference to the stars and planets
the 1 940s to proVide en route operations over has been employed since ancient times; aircraft
oceans and unpopulated areas. Several hyperbolic navigators have utilised periscopes to take
systems have been developed since, including celestial fixes for long distance navigation. An
Decca, Omega and Loran. The operational use of artificial constellation of navigation aids was
Omega and Decca navigation systems ceased in initiated in 1 973 and referred to as Navstar
1 997 and 2000 respective�y. Loran systems are (navigation system with timing and ranging). This
still available for use today as stand-alone global positioning system (GPS) was developed
systems; they are also being proposed as a· for use by the US military; it is now widely
complementary navigation aid for global available for use in many applications including
navigation satellite systems. aircraft navigation. Chapter 1 8 looks at GPS and
Chapter 1 5 looks at a unique form of dead other global navigation satellite systems that are
reckoning navigation system based on radar and a in use, or planned for future deployment.
scientific principle called Doppler shift. This The term 'navigation' can be applied in both
system requires no external inputs or references the lateral and vertical senses for aircraft
from ground stations. Doppler navigation systems applications. Vertical navigation is concerned
were developed in the mid-1 940s and introduced with optimising the performance of the aircraft to
in the mid-1 950s as a primary navigation system. reduce operating costs; this is the subject of
Being self-contained, the system can be used for Chapter 1 9. During the 1 980s, lateral navigation
long distance navigation and by helicopters and performance management functions were
during hover manoeuvres. combined into a single system known as the flight
The advent of computers, in particular the management system (FMS). Various tasks
increasing capabilities of integrated circuits using previously routinely performed by the crew can
digital techniques, has led to a number of now be automated with the intention of reducing
advances in aircraft navigation. One example of crew workload.
this is the area navigation system (RNAV); this is Chapter 20 reviews how the planned journey
described in Chapter 1 6. Area navigation is a from A to B could be affected by adverse weather
means of combining, or filtering, inputs from one conditions. Radar was introduced onto passenger
or more navigation sensors and defming positions aircraft during the 1 950s to allow pilots to
that are not necessarily eo-located with ground­ identify weather conditions and subsequently re­
based navigation aids. route around these conditions for the safety and
A major advance in aircraft navigation came comfort of passengers. A secondary use of
with the introduction of the inertial navigation weather radar is the terrain-mapping mode that
system (INS); this is the subject of Chapter 1 7. allows the pilot to identify features of the ground,
The inertial navigation system is an autonomous e.g. rivers, coastlines and mountains.
dead reckoning system, i.e. it requires no external Increasing traffic density, in particular around
inputs or references from ground stations. The airports, means that we need a method of air
system was developed in the 1 950s for use by the traffic control (ATC) to manage the flow of
US military and subsequently the space traffic and maintain safe separation of aircraft.
programmes. Inertial navigation systems (INS) The ATC system is based on secondary
were introduced into commercial aircraft service surveillance radar (SSR). Ground controllers use
during the early 1 970s. The system is able to the system to address individual aircraft. An
compute navigation data such as present position, emerging ATC technology is ADS-B, this is also
distance to waypoint, heading, ground speed, covered in Chapter 2 1 .
wind speed, wind direction etc. The system does With ever increasing air traffic congestion, and
not need radio navigation inputs and it does not the subsequent demands on air traffic control
transmit radio frequencies. Being self-contained, (ATC) resources, the risk of a mid-air collision
the system can be used for long distance increases. The need for improved traffic flow led
navigation over oceans and undeveloped areas of to the introduction of the traffic alert and collision
the globe. avoidance system (TCAS); this is the subject of
xiv Preface

Chapter 22. TCAS is an automatic surveillance

system that helps aircrews and ATC to maintain Online resources
safe separation of aircraft. TCAS is an airborne
system based on secondary radar that interrogates Additional supporting material (including video
and replies directly with aircraft via a high­ clips, sound bites and image galleries) for tbis
integrity data link. The system is functionally book are available at or
independent of ground stations, and alerts the
crew if another aircraft comes within a
predetermined time to a potential collision.
The book concludes with four useful
appendices, including a comprehensive list of
abbreviations and acronyms used with aircraft
communications and navigation systems.
The review questions at the end of each chapter
are typical of these used in CAA and other
examinations. Further examination practice can
be gained from the four revision papers given in
Appendix 2. Other features that will be
particularly useful if you are an independent
learner are the 'key points' and 'test your
understanding' questions interspersed throughout
the text.


The authors would like to thank the following

persons and organisations for permission to
reproduce photographs and data in tbis book:
Lees Avionics and Wycombe Air Centre for
product/cockpit images; Trevor Diamond for the
ADF, VOR and DME photographs; CMC
Electronics for data and photographs of Doppler
and MLS hardware; the International Loran
Association (ILA) and US Coast Guard for
information and data on both the existing Loran­
C infrastructure and their insight into future
developments; Kearfott (Guidance & Navigation
Corporation) and Northrop Grurnman
Corporation for permission to reproduce data on
their inertial navigation systems and sensors;
ARINC for information relating to TCAS; ADS­
B Technologies, LLC for their permission to
reproduce data on automatic dependent
surveillance-broadcast. Finally, thanks also go to
Alex Hollingsworth, Lucy Potter and Jonathan
Simpson at Elsevier for their patience,
encouragement and support.
Chapter I ntrod u cti o n
. ,,
1 ..

Maxwell first suggested the existence of 1 .1 The radio frequency spectrum

electromagnetic waves in 1864. Later, Heinrich
Rudolf Hertz used an arrangement of rudimentary Radio frequency signals are generally understood
resonators to demonstrate the existence of to occupy a frequency range that extends from a
electromagnetic waves. Hertz's apparatus was few tens of kilohertz (kHz) to several hundred
extremely simple and comprised two resonant gigahertz (GHz). The lowest part of the radio
loops, one for transmitting and the other for frequency range that is of practical use (below 30
receiving. Each loop acted both as a tuned circuit kHz) IS only suitable for narrow-band
and as a resonant antenna (or 'aerial'). communication. At this frequency, signals
Hertz's transmitting loop was excited by means propagate as ground waves (following the
of an induction coil and battery. Some of the curvature of the earth) over very long distances.
energy radiated by the transmitting loop was At the other extreme, the highest frequency range
intercepted by the receiving loop and the received that is of practical importance extends above 30
energy was conveyed to a spark gap where-it GHz. At these microwave frequencies,
could be released as an arc. The energy radiated considerable bandwidths are available (sufficient
by the transmitting loop was in the form of an to transmit many television channels using point­
electromagnetic wave-a wave that has both to-point links or to permit very high definition
electric and magnetic field components and that radar systems) and signals tend to propagate
travels at the speed of light. strictly along line-of-sight paths.
In 1 894, Marconi demonstrated the commercial At other frequencies signals may propagate by
potential of the phenomenon that Maxwell various means including reflection from ionised
predicted and Hertz actually used in his layers in the ionosphere. At frequencies between
apparatus. It was also Marconi that made radio a 3 MHz and 30 MHz ionospheric propagation
reality by pioneering the development of regularly permits intercontinental broadcasting
telegraphy without wires (i.e. 'wireless'). and communications.
Marconi was able to demonstrate very effectively For convenience, the radio frequency spectrum
that information could be exchanged between is divided into a number of bands (see Table 1 . 1 ),
distant locations without the need for a 'land­ each spanning a decade of frequency. The use to
line'. which each frequency range is put depends upon
Marconi's system of wireless telegraphy a number of factors, paramount amongst which is
proved to be invaluable for mantlme the propagation characteristics within the band.
communications (ship to ship and ship to shore) concerned.
and was to be instrumental in saving many lives. Other factors that need to be taken into account
The military applications of radio were first include the efficiency of practical aerial systems
exploited during the First World War (1914 to in the range concerned and the bandwidth
1 9 1 8) and, during that period, radio was first used available. It is also worth noting that, although it
in aircraft. may appear from Figure 1 .1 that a great deal of
This first chapter has been designed to set the the radio frequency spectrum is not used, it
scene and to provide you with an introduction to should be stressed that competition for frequency
the principles of radio communication systems. space is fierce and there is, in fact, little vacant
The various topics are developed more fully in space! Frequency allocations are, therefore,
the later chapters but the information provided ratified by international agreement and the
here is designed to provide you with a starting various user services carefully safeguard their
point for the theory that follows. own areas of the spectrum.
2 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


Satell�e TV
Microwave point-point and radar

Microwave landing system

Satellite communications

Global positioning system (GPS)

1GHz 30cm - Cellular radio (mobile phones) Distance measuring equipment (DME)

Band Ill TV

100MHz 3m - Band 11 FM radio

Short wave (SW) broadcast bands:
Band I TV 13m band

15 MHzband

10MHz 13MHzband

8 MHzband
HF 11MHzband

5 MHzband

75 m band 3MHzband

Medium wave (MW) radio

Non-directional beacons (NOB)


Figure 1 . 1 Some examples of frequency allocations within the radio frequency spectrum

Table 1 .1 Frequency bands

Frequency range Wavelength Designation

300 Hz to 3 kHz 1 000 km to 1 00 km Extremely low frequency (ELF)

3 kHz to 30 kHz 1 00 km to 1 0 km Very low frequency (VLF)

30 kHz to 300 kHz IOkm to Ikm Low frequency (LF)

300 kHz to 3 MHz Ikm to lOOm Medium frequency (MF)

3 MHz to 30 MHz 1 00 m to 10 m High frequency (HF)

30 MHz to 300 MHz 10 m to I m Very high frequency (VHF)

300 MHz to 3 GHz 1 m to 1 0 cm Ultra high frequency (UHF)

3 GHz to 30 GHz 1 0 cm to Icm Super high frequency (SHF)

Introduction 3

Radiated E-field
1.2 Electromagnetic waves

As with light, radio waves propagate outwards

from a source of energy (transmitter) and
comprise electric (E) and magnetic (H) fields at
right angles to one another. These two
components, the E-field and the H-field, are
inseparable. The resulting wave travels away
from the source with the E and H lines mutually
at right angles to the direction of propagation, as
shown in Figure 1.2.
Radio waves are said to be polarised in the
plane of the electric (E) field. Thus, if the E-field
Transmitter Receiver
is vertical, the signal is said to be vertically
polarised whereas, if the E-field is horizontal, the
signal is said to be horizontally polarised.
Figure 1 . 3 shows the electric E-field lines in
the space between a transmitter and a receiver.
The transmitter aerial (a simple dipole, see page
Figure 1 .3 Electric field ;::>attern in the near
16) is supplied with a high frequency alternating
field region between a transmitter and a
current. This gives rise to an alternating electric
receiver (the magnetic field has not been
field between the ends of the aerial and an
shown but is perpendicular to the electric
alternating magnetic field around (and at right
angles to) it.
The direction of the E-field lines is reversed on
each cycle of the signal as the wavefront moves spreading out in a spherical pattern (this is known
outwards from the source. The receiving aerial more correctly as the near field). In practice there
intercepts the moving field and voltage and will be some considerable distance between the
current is induced in it as a consequence. This transmitter and the receiver and so the wave that
voltage and current is similar (but of smaller reaches the receiving antenna will have a plane
amplitude) to that produced by the transmitter. wavefront. In this far field region the angular
Note that in Figure 1 .3 (where the transmitter field distribution is essentially independent of the
and receiver are close together) the field is shown distance from the transmitting antenna.

Electric field lines

Source of
radiated energy

Direction of

Magnetic field lines

Velocity of propagation = 3 x108 m/s

Figure 1 .2 An electromagnetic wave

4 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 .3 Frequency and wavelength Example 1.3.3

If the wavelength of a 30 MHz signal in a cable is
Radio waves propagate in air (or space) at the
8 m, determine the velocity of propagation of the
speed of light (300 million metres per second).
The velocity of propagation, v, wavelength, J.., and
wave in the cable.

frequency, j, of a radio wave are related by the


v = fA. = 3x108 m/s Using the formula v= /A. where v is the

velocity of propagation in the cable, gives:

This equation can be arranged to make for A. the v= fA.= 30x 1 06 x8 m= 240x 1 06 = 2.4x 108 m/s
subject, as follows:
A.= 3xl08
!= -- Hz and
3xl08 m
A. f Test your u nderstanding 1 .1
As an example, a signal at a frequency of I M Hz
An HF communications signal has a frequency of
wi ll have a wavelength of 300 m whereas a signal
25.674 MHz. Determine the wavelength of the
at a frequency of I 0 MHz will have a wavelength
o f 3 0 m.
When a radio wave travels in a cable (rather
than in air or 'free space') it usually travels at a
speed that is between 60% and 80% of that of the
speed of light.
Test your u nderstanding 1 .2

A VHF communications link operates at a

wavelength of 1 .2 m. Determine the frequency at
Example 1.3.1 which the link operates.
Determine the frequency of a radio signal that has
a wavelength of 1 5 m.
1 .4 The atmosphere
3x 1 08
Here we will use the formula f = Hz The earth's atmosphere (see Figure 1 .4) can be
A. divided into five concentric regions having
Putting J.. = 1 5 m gives: boundaries that are not clearly defined. These
layers, starting with the layer nearest the earth's
f = -- =
3xl08 300xl06 surface, are known as the troposphere,
20xI 06 Hz or 20 M Hz
15 15 stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and
The boundar y between the troposphere and the
Example 1.3.2 stratosphere is known as the tropopause and this
Determine the wavelength of a radio signal that region varies in height above the earth's surface
has a frequency of 1 50 MHz. from about 7.5 km at the poles to 1 8 km at the
equator. An average value for the height of the
tropopause is around 1 1 km or 36,000 feet (about
3x 1 08
ln this case we will use A.= m the same as the cruising height for most
I international passenger aircraft).
Putting/= 1 50 MHz gives: The thermosphere and the upper parts of the
rnesosphere are often referred to as the
3 x 1o� 3 x 1 os 3 00xl06 ionosphere and it is this region that has a major
A. = = 2 m role to play in the long distance propagation of
f l 5 0 x106 15 0xl06
radio waves, as we shall see later.
Introduction 5

The lowest part of the earth's atmosphere is 1.5 Radio wave propagation
called the troposphere and it extends from the
surface up to about 1 0 km (6 miles). The Depending on a number of complex factors, radio
atmosphere above 1 0 km is called the waves can propagate through the atmosphere in
stratosphere, followed by the mesosphere. lt is in various ways, as shown in F igure 1 .5 . These
the stratosphere that incoming solar radiation include:
creates the ozone layer.
• ground waves
• ionospheric waves
• space waves
• tropospheric waves.
As their name suggests, ground waves (or
surface waves) travel close to the surface of the
earth and propagate for relatively short distances
at HF and VHF but for much greater distances at
MF and LF. For example, at 1 00 kHz the range of
a ground wave might be in excess of 500 km,
whilst at 1 MHz (using the same radiated power)
the range might be no more than 1 50 km and at
1 0 MHz no more than about 1 5 km. Ground
waves have two basic componeuts; a direct wave
and a ground reflected wave (as shown in Figure
Figure 1 .4 Zones of the atmosphere 1 .6). The direct path is that which exists on a

- ---------- --
- -- -

- -- -- - -
-- -

Tropospheric path

Ground wave

Transmitting antenna Receiving antenna

Figure 1 .5 Radio wave propagation through the atmosphere

6 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Transmitting antenna Receiving antenna

Direct path size of the obstruction or discontinuity. Four
different effects can occur (see Figure I . 7) and
they are known as:
Signal absorbed
into the ground
• reflection
• refraction
• diffraction
Figure 1 .6 Constituents of a ground wave
• scattering .
Reflection occurs when a plane wave meets a
line-of-sight (LOS) basis between the transmitter plane object that is large relative to the
and receiver. An example of the use of a direct wavelength of the signal. In such cases the wave
path is that which is used by terrestrial is reflected back with minimal distortion and
microwave repeater- stations which are typically without any change in velocity. The effect is
spaced 20 to 30 km apart on a line-of-sight basis. similar to the reflection of a beam of light when it
Another example of the direct path is that used arrives at a mirrored surface.
for satellite TV reception. [n order to receive Refraction occurs when a wave moves from
signals from the satellite the receiving antenna one medium into another in which it travels at a
must be able to 'see' the satel lite. ln this case, and different speed. For example, when moving from
since the wave travels largely undeviated through a more dense to a less dense medium the wave is
the atmosphere, the direct wave is often referred bent away from the normal ( i.e. an imaginary line
to as a space wave. Such waves travel over LOS constructed at right angles to the boundary).
paths at VHF, UHF and beyond. Conversely, when moving from a less dense to a
As shown in Figure 1 .6, signals can arrive at a more dense medium, a wave wi ll bend towards
receiving antenna by both the direct path and by the normal . The effect is similar to that
means of reflection from the ground. Ground experienced by a beam of light when it
reflection depends very much on the quality of encounters a glass prism.
the ground with sandy soils being a poor reflector Diffraction occurs when a wave meets an edge
of radio signals and flat marshy ground being an (i .e. a sudden impenetrable surface discontinuity)
excellent reflecting surface. Note that a which has dimensions that are large relative to the
proportion of the inc ident radio signal is absorbed wavelength of the signal. In such cases the wave
into the ground and not all of it is usefully is bent so that it follows the profi le of the
reflected. An example of the use of a mixture of discontinuity. Diffraction occurs more readily at
direct path and ground (or building) reflected Jower frequencies (typically VHF and below). An
radio signals is the reception of FM broadcast example of diffraction is the bending experienced
signals in a car. It is also worth mentioning that, by VHF broadcast signals when they encounter a
in many cases, the reflected signals can be sharply defined mountain ridge. Such signals can
stronger than the direct path (or the direct path be received at some distance beyond the 'knife
may not exist at all if the car happens to be in a edge' even though they are well beyond the
heavily built-up area). normal LOS range.
Ionospheric waves (or sky waves) can travel Scattering occurs when a wave encounters one
for long distances at MF, HF and exceptionally or more objects in its path having a size that is a
also at VHF under certain conditions. Such waves fraction of the wavelength of the signal. When a
are predominant at frequencies below VHF and wave encounters an obstruction of this type it will
we shall examine this phenomenon in greater / become fragmented and re-radiated over a wide
detail a little later but before we do it is worth angle. Scattering occurs more readily at higher
describing what can happen when waves meet frequencies (typically VHF and above) and
certain types of discontinuity in the atmosphere or regularly occur s in the troposphere at UHF and
when they encounter a physical obstruction. In EHF.
both cases, the direction of trave l can be Radio signals can also be directed upwards (by
significantly affected according to the nature and suitable choice of antenna) so that signals enter
Introduction 7

SATCO M� Ionosphere

� Scattered ray
/_ _.

,- ..

Ed g
dl.ffrac e
ted ra

Figure 1. 7 Various propagation effects

the troposphere or ionosphere. In the former case, 1 .6 The ionosphere

signals can be become scattered (i.e. partially
dispersed) in the troposphere so that a small In 1 924, Sir Edward Appleton was one of the first
proportion arrives back at the ground. to demonstrate the existence of a ref lecting layer
Tropospheric scatter requires high power at a height of about l OO km (now called the E­
transmitting equipment and high gain antennas layer). This was soon followed by the discovery
but is regularly used for transmission beyond the of another layer at around 250 km (now called the
horizon particularly where conditions in the F-layer). This was achieved by broadcasting a
troposphere ( i.e. rapid changes of temperature and continuous signal from one site and receiving the
humidity with height) can support this mode of signal at a second site several miles away. By
communication. Tropospheric scatter of radio measuring the time difference between the signal
waves is analogous to the scattering of a light received along the ground and the signal reflected
beam (e.g. a torch or car headlights) when shone from the atmosphere (and knowing the velocity at
into a heavy fog or mist. which the radio wave propagates) it was possible
In addition to tropospheric scatter there is also to calculate the height of the atmospheric
tropospheric ducting (not shown in Figure 1 .7) reflecting layer. Today, the standard technique for
in which radio signals can become trapped as a detecting the presence of ionised layers (and
result of the change of refractive index at a determining their height above the surface of the
b oundary between air masses having different earth) is to transmit a very short pulse directed
temperature and humidity. Ducting usually occur s upwards into space and accurately measuring the
when a large mass o f cold air i s overrun b y warm amplitude and time delay before the arrival back
air (this is referred to as a temperature inversion). on earth of the reflected pulses. This ionospheric
Although this condition may occur frequently in sounding is carried out over a range of
certain parts of the world, this mode of frequencies.
propagation is not very predictable and is The ionosphere provides us with a reasonably
therefore not used for any practical applications. predictable means of communicating over long
8 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

distances using HF radio signals. Much of the a single F-layer (see Figures 1 .8 and 1 . 1 0).
short and long distance communications below 30 During daylight, a lower l ayer of ionisation
MHz depend on the bending or refraction of the known as the D-layer exists in proportion to the
transmitted wave in the earth' s ionosphere which sun 's height, peaking at local noon and largely
are regions of ionisation caused by the sun' s dissipating after sunset. This lower layer
ultrav iolet radiation and lying about 6 0 t o 200 primarily acts to absorb energy in the low end of
miles above the earth' s surface. the high frequency (HF) band. The F-layer
The useful regions of ionisation are the E-layer ionisation regions are primarily responsible for
(at about 70 miles in height for maximum long distance communication using sky waves at
ionisation) and the F -layer (lying at about 1 75 distances of up to several thousand km (greatly i n
miles in height at night). During the daylight excess of those distances that can b e achieved
hours, the F-layer splits into two distinguishable using VHF direct wave communication, see
parts: F1 (lying at a height of about 1 40 miles) Figure 1 .9). The characteristics of the ionised
and F2 (lying at a height of about 200 miles). layers are summarised in Table 1 .2 together with
After sunset the F 1 - and F2-layers recombine into their effect on radio waves.

Table 1 .2 Ionospheric layers

Layer Height (km) Characteristics Effect on radio waves

D 50 to 95 km Develops shortly after sunrise and Responsible for the absorption of radio
disappears shortly after sunset. Reaches waves at lower frequencies (e.g. below
maximum ionisation when the sun is at its 4 MHz) during daylight hours
highest point in the sky

E 95 to 1 50 km Develops shortly after sunrise and Reflects waves having frequencies less
disappears a few hours after sunset. The than 5 MHz but tends to absorb radio
maximum ionisation of this layer occurs at signals above this frequency
around midday

Es 80 to 1 20 km An intense region of ionisation that Highly reflective at frequencies above

sometimes appears in the summer months 30 MHz and up to 300 MHz on some
(peaking in June and July). Usually lasts occasions. Of no practical use other
for only a few hours (often in the late than as a means of long distance VHF
morning and recurring in the early evening communication for radio amateurs
of the same day)

F 250 to 450 km Appears a few hours after sunset, when Reflects radio waves up to 20 MHz and
the F1- and F2-layers (see below) merge to occasionally up to 25 MHz
form a single layer

1 50 to 200 km Occurs during daylight hours with Reflects radio waves in the low H F
maximum ionisation reached at around spectrum up t o about 1 0 MHz
midday. The F1-layer merges with the
F2-layer shortly after sunset

250 to 450 km Develops just before sunrise as the F-layer Capable of reflecting radio waves in the
begins to divide. Maximum ionisation of the upper HF spectrum with frequencies of
Frlayer is usually reached one hour after up to 30 MHz and beyond during
sunrise and it typically remains at this level periods of intense solar activity (i.e. at
until shortly after sunset. The intensity of the peak of each 1 1 -year sunspot cycle)
ionisation varies greatly according to the
time of day and season and is also greatly
affected by solar activity
Introduction 9

700 I
600 1\
300 r-----_
� F-layer

// I (� F,-layer

1 00 E-layer

v-- D-layer


50 /

1'.) "' 1'.) "' 1'.) "' N "' N "'
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0

Electron density (cm-3)


Figure 1 .8 Typical variation of electron density versus height (note the use of logarithmic
scales for both height and electron density)

Figure 1 .9 Effect of ionised layers on radio signals at various frequencies

10 Aircraft communications and navigation systems





1 00


Summer day Winter day Night

Figure 1 . 1 0 Position of ionised layers at day and night

1 .7 M U F and LUF Fortunately, the attenuation experienced by lower

frequencies travelling in the ionosphere is much
The maximum usable frequency ( M UF) is the reduced at night and this makes it possible to use
highest frequency that will allow communication the lower frequencies required for effective
over a given path at a particular time and on a communication. The important fact to remember
particular date. MUF varies considerably with the from this is simply that, for a given path, the
amount of solar activity and is basically a frequency used at night is about half that used for
function of the height and intensity of the F -layer. daytime communication.
During a period of intense solar activity the MUF The lowest usable frequency (LUF) is the
can exceed 30 MHz during daylight hours but is lowest frequency that wi ll support
often around 16 to 20 MHz by day and around 8 communication over a given path at a particular
to I 0 MHz by night. time and on a particular date. LUF is dependent
The variation of MUF over a 24-hour period on the amount of absorption experienced by a
for the London to New York path is shown in radio wave. This absorption is worse when the D­
Figure 1 . 1 1 . A similar plot for the summer Jayer is most intense (i.e. during daylight). Hence,
months would be flatter with a more gradual as with MUF, the LUF rises during the day and
increase in MUF at dawn and a more gradual falls during the night. A typical value of LUF is 4
decline at dusk. to 6 MHz during the day, falling rapidly at sunset
The reason for the signi ficant variation o f MU F to 2 M Hz.
over any 24-hour period i s that the intensity of The frequency chosen for HF communication
ionisation in the upper atmosphere is significantly must therefore be somewhere above the LUF and
reduced at night and, as a consequence, lower below the MUF for a given path, day and time. A
frequencies have to be used to produce the same typical example might be a working frequency of
amount of refractive bending and also to give the 5 MHz at a time when the MUF is I 0 MHz and
same critical angle and skip distance as by day. the LUF is 2 MHz.
Introduction 11


'N 25






I �





0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24

Time (UTC)

Figure 1 . 1 1 Variation of M UF with time for London-New York on 1 6th October 2006

fcrit. 5 MHz

fm.u.f. "' 7 MHz fm.u.r. "' 1 4 MHz

_ "' 500 miles-----.:

( ) (
a b)


Figure 1 . 1 2 Effect of angle of attack on range and M U F

Figure 1 . 1 2 shows the typical M U F for various The relationship between the critical frequency,
angles of attack together with the corresponding fcril., and electron density, N, is given by:
working ranges. This diagram assumes a critical
frequency of 5 MHz. This is the lowest fcn1. = 9 X 10-J X --JN
frequency that would be returned from the where N is the electron density expressed in cm3 .
ionosphere using a path of vertical incidence (see The angle of attack, a. , is the angle of the
ionospheric sounding on page 7). transmitted wave relative to the horizon.
12 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

The relationship between the MUF, /m.u.r., the 1 .8 Silent zone and skip distance
critical frequency, .fcrit..• and the angle of attack, a,
is given by: The silent zone is simply the region that exists
between the extent of the coverage of the ground
f. .
lent. wave signal and the point at which the sky wave
m.u.t. ·

sm a returns to earth (see Figure 1 . 1 3 ). Note also that,

depending on local topography and soil
Example 1.8. 1 characteristics, when a signal returns to earth
Given that the electron density in the ionosphere from the ionosphere it is sometimes possible for it
to experience a reflection from the ground, as
is 5 x 1 05 electrons per cm3 , determine the critical
shown in Figure 1 . 1 3 . The onward reflected
frequency and the MUF for an angle of attack of
signal will suffer attenuation but in some
1 5°.
circumstances may be sufficient to provide a
Now using the relationship .fcrit. = 9 x 1 0-3 x -.fN further hop and an approximate doubling of the
gives: working range. The condition is known as mu lti­
hop propagation .
.fcnt. = 9x 10- x Js x 1 0 6. 364 MHz
3 5 =
The skip distance is simply the distance
between the point at which the sky wave is
The MUF can now be calculated using: radiated and the point at which it returns to earth
(see F igure 1 . 1 4).
/, fcrit. 6 . 3 64 6 . 3 64 Note that where signals are received
= = =
24 5 7 M H z
sin a sin l 5° 0.259 .
simultaneously by ground wave and sky wave
paths, the signals will combine both
constructively and destructively due to the
Test your understanding 1 .3 different paths lengths and this, in turn, will
produce an effect known as fading. This effect
Determine the electron density in the can often be heard during the early evening on
ionosphere when the M UF is 1 8 MHz for a medium wave radio signals as the D-layer
critical angle of 20°. weakens and sky waves first begin to appear.

- - -

Skip distance

Figure 1 . 1 3 Silent zone and skip d istance

Introduction 13

Table 1 .3 See Test your understanding 1 .4

Time (UTC) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

MUF 9.7 9.0 8.4 7.9 7.5 9.6 12.3 14.1 1 5.4 1 6.4 1 7.1 1 7.6 1 7.9

Time (UTC) 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

I MUF 18.1 1 8.1 1 7.9 1 7.7 1 7.2 16.5 1 5.6 1 4.2 1 2.7 1 1 .5 1 0.6 9.7

Test your understanding 1 .4 4. The height of the E-layer is approximately:
(a) 1 00 km
Table 1 .3 shows corresponding values of time and (b) 200 km
maximum usable frequency (MUF) for London to (c) 400 km.
Lisbon on 28th August 2006. Plot a graph
showing the variation of MUF with time and 5. When a large mass of cold air is overrun by
explain the shape of the graph. warm air the temperature inversion produced
will often result in:
(a) ionospheric reflection
(b) stratospheric refraction
Test your understanding 1 .5 (c) tropospheric ducting.

Explain the following terms in relation to HF radio 6. Ionospheric sounding is used to determine:
(a) the maximum distance that a ground wave
(a) silent zone will travel
(b) skip distance (b) the presence of temperature inversions i n
(c) multi-hop propagation. the upper atmosphere
(c) the critical angle and maximum usable
frequency for a given path.
1 .9 Multiple choice questions
j 7. The critical frequency is directly proportional
I . A transmitted radio wave will have a plane
(a) the electron density
(b) the square of the electron density
(a) in the near field
(c) the square root of the electron density.
(b) in the far field
(c) close to the antenna.
8. The MF range extends from:
(a) 300 kHz to 3 MHz
2. The lowest layer in the earth's atmosphere is:
(b) 3 MHz to 30 MHz
(a) the ionosphere
(c) 30 MHz to 300 MHz.
(b) the stratosphere
(c) the troposphere.
9. A radio wave has a frequency of 15 MHz.
Which one of the following gives the
3. A radio wave at 1 1 5 kHz is most likely to
wavelength of the wave?
propagate as:
(a) 2 m
(a) a ground wave
(b) 1 5 m
(b) a sky wave
(c) 20 m.
(c) a space wave.
14 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 0. Which one of the following gives the velocity 1 8. The F 1- and F2-layers combine:
at which a radio wave propagates? (a) only at about mid-day
(a) 300 m/s {b) during the day
(b) 3 x I 08 m/s (c) during the night.
(c) 3 million m/s.
1 9. The path of a VHF or UHF radio wave can be
1 1 . The main cause of ionisation in the upper bent by a sharply defined obstruction such as a
atmosphere is: building or a mountain top. This phenomenon
(a) solar radiation is known as:
(b) ozone (a) ducting
(c) currents of warm air. (b) reflection
(c) diffraction.
1 2 . The Frlayer is:
(a) higher at the equator than at the poles 20. Radio waves at HF can be subj ect to
(b) lower at the equator than at the poles reflections in ionised regions of the upper
(c) the same height at the equator as at the atmosphere. This phenomenon is known as:
poles. (a) ionospheric reflection
(b) tropospheric scatter
1 3 . The free-space path loss experienced by a (c) atmospheric ducting.
radio wave:
(a) increases the frequency but decreases with 2 1 . Radio waves at UHF can sometimes be
distance subject to dispersion over a wide angle in
(b) decreases with frequency but increases regions of humid air in the atmosphere. This
with distance phenomenon is known as:
(c) increases with both frequency and (a) ionospheric reflection
distance. (b) tropospheric scatter
(c) atmospheric ducting.
1 4. For a given HF radio path, the M U F changes
most rapidly at: 22. Radio waves at VHF and U H F can sometimes
(a) mid-day propagate for long distances in the lower
(b) mid-night atmosphere due to the presence of a
(c) dawn and dusk. temperature inversion. This phenomenon is
known as:
1 5 . Radio waves tend to propagate mainly as line­ (a) ionospheric reflection
of-sight signals in the: (b) tropospheric scatter
(a) MF band (c) atmospheric ducting.
(b) HF band
(c) VHF band. 23. The layer in the atmosphere that is mainly
responsible for the absorption of MF radio
1 6. In the HF band radio waves tend to propagate waves during the day is:
over long distances as: (a) the D-layer
(a) ground waves (b) the E-layer
(b) space waves (c) the F-Iayer.
(c) ionospheric waves.
24. The layer in the atmosphere that is mainly
1 7. The maximum distance that can be achieved responsible for the reflection of HF radio
from a single-hop reflection from the F-layer waves during the day is:
is in the region: (a) the D-Iayer
(a) 500 to 2,000 km (b) the E-layer
(b) 2,000 to 3,500 km (c) the F-layer.
(c) 3,500 to 5,000 km.
Chapter A nte n nas

It may not be apparent from an inspection of the 2.1 The isotropic radiator
external profile of an aircraft that most large
aircraft carry several dozen antennas of different The most fundamental form of antenna (which
types. To illustrate this point, Figure 2 . 1 shows cannot be realised in practice) is the isotropic
just a few of the antennas carried by a Boeing radiator. This theoretical type of antenna is often
757. What should be apparent from thjs is that used for comparison purposes and as a reference
many of the antennas are of the low profile when calculating the gain and directional
variety which is essen�ial to reduce drag. characteristics of a real antenna.
Antennas are used both for transmission and I sotropic antennas radiate uniformly in all
reception. A transmjtting antenna converts the directions. In other words, when placed at the
high frequency electrical energy supplied to it centre of a sphere such an antenna would
into electromagnetic energy which is launched or illuminate the internal surface of the sphere
radiated into the space surrounding the antenna. uniformly as shown in Figure 2.2(a). All practical
A receiving antenna captures the electromagnetic antennas have directional characteristics as
energy in the surrounding space and converts thjs illustrated in Figure 2 .2(b). Furthermore, such
into high frequency electrical energy which is characteristics may be more or less pronounced
then passed on to the receiving system. The law according to the antenna's application. We shall
of reciprocity indicates that an antenna wiU have look at antenna gain and directivity in more detail
the same gain and directional properties when later on but before we do that we shall introduce
used for transmission as it does when used for you to some common types of antenna.

Figure 2.1 Some of the antennas fitted to a Boeing 757 aircraft. 1 , VOR; 2, HF comms.; 3, 5
and 6, VHF comms.; 4, ADF; 7, TCAS (upper); 8, weather radar
16 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Area illuminated )
(entire surface of sphere
Dipole element

Identical radiation in
all directions

Figure 2.3 A half-wave dipole antenna

(a) Isotropic radiator

min. max.

Area illuminated, A

- Current

"A /2

max. min.
(b) Directional antenna

Figure 2.2 The directional characteristics of Figure 2.4 Voltage and current distri bution
isotropic radiators and directional antennas in the half-wave d ipole antenna

2.2 The half-wave dipole The length of the antenna (from end to end) Is
equal to one half wavelength, hence:
The half-wave dipole is one of the most
fundamental types of antenna. The half-wave I = ;t
<}ipole antenna (Figure 2.3) consists of a single 2
.,/c onductor having a length equal to one-half of the Now since v = f x A. we can conclude that, for a
length of the wave being transmitted or received. half-wave dipole:
The conductor is then split in the centre to enable
connection to the feeder. In practice, because of I = _!___
the capacitance effects between the ends of the 2f
antenna and ground, the antenna is cut a Note that I is the electrical length of the antenna
little shorter than a half wavelength. rather than its actual physical length. End effects,
Antennas 17

- JD Plot. D1pole in free space

GJ@Jrg} "' 3D Plot: Dipole in free space r;J[Qlrg)
File Ed� View Options Reset
Fie Edt 'llew Options Reset
'T .... Field .-------::-:::=::--:-.l
r on

I ! Azimuth Slice
I r. E]ev Slice

I ..ill
o 0
2.l I
Slice Azimuth
1 80
299.793 MHz

-� 0.0 deg. �
0 ---l
- Angle 0.0 deg. 2.16 d8i
o..ter Ri1g 2.16 dBi 0.0 dBmsx

·1 80
Slce Max Ool:1 2 16 dBI @ Az Angle • 0.0 deg.
Frort!Side 99.99 <13 ..:J
CUisor Elev
Fr- O.O cll
- 77.4 deg., -JdB @ 321 .3, 38.7 deg.
SldelobeOol:l 2 1 6 dBI @ Az Angle • 180.0 deg.

W' .S,how 2D Plot

Figure 2.5 E-field polar radiation pattern for

a half-wave dipole

Figure 2. 7 30 polar radiation pattern for a

half-wave dipole (note the 'doughnut' shape)
- JD Plot. Cdrdioid GJ[QJ�
Fie Ell VIew Options Reset
• r .... Field EZNEC Demo

implies that the impedance is not constant along

the length of aerial but varies from a maximum at
the ends (maximum voltage, minimum current)
to a minimum at the centre.
The dipole antenna has directional properties
299.793 MHz illustrated in Figures 2 . 5 to 2.7. F igure 2 . 5 shows
the radiation pattern of the antenna in the plane
1 64 d8i
Azm.Ah Plol CurS()( Az 315.0 deg
Elevollon Angle 0.0 deg. Gain � .42 dBi
of the antenna ' s electric field (i.e. the E-field
1 64 dBi @ Az Angle • 1 85.0 deg.
o..ter Ri-g -0.22 d8mox

Slce Max Gain plane) whilst Figure 2.6 shows the radiation
0.02 ell
EleMlwidlh ?
pattern in the plane of the antenna's magnetic
Sldelobe Gain 1 64 dBI @ Az Angle • 354.0 deg field (i.e. the H-field plane).
Frori/Sidelobe 0.0 <i3
The 3D plot shown in Figure 2 . 7 combines
these two plots into a single 'doughnut' shape.
Figure 2.6 H-field polar radiation pattern for Things to note from these three diagrams are
a half-wave dipole that:

• in the case of Figure 2 . 5 minimum radiation

occurs along the axis of the antenna whilst the
or capacitance effects at the ends of the antenna two zones of maximum radiation are at 90°
require that we reduce the actual length of the (i.e. are 'normal to' ) the dipole elements
aerial and a 5% reduction in length is typically • in the case of Figure 2.6 the antenna radiates
required for an aerial to be resonant at the centre uniformly in all directions.
of its designed tuning range.
Figure 2.4 shows the distribution of current Hence, a vertical dipole will have omni­
and voltage along the length of a half-wave directional characteristics whilst a horizontal
dipole aerial. The current is maximum at the dipole will have a bi-directional radiation
centre and zero at the ends. The voltage is zero at pattern. This is an important point as we shall see
the centre and maximum at the ends. This later.
18 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Example 2 . 1 Radiating element

Determine the length o f a half-wave dipole
antenna for use at a frequency of 1 50 M Hz.

The length of a half-wave dipole for 1 50 M H z

can be determined from:
.. Rr

where v = 3 x 1 08 m/s andf= 1 50 x 1 06 Hz.


� = 3 x l 08
I= Figure 2.8 Radiation resistance
2 f 2 X 1 50 X I 06
DC resistance, Rd.c.

Test your u nderstanding 2.1

Determine the length of a half-wave dipole for
resistance, Rr
frequencies of (a) 1 21 MHz and (b) 1 1 .25 MHz.

Off-tune reactance, X
2.3 Impedance and radiation
Figure 2.9 Equ ivalent circuit of an anten na
Because voltage and current appear in an antenna
(a minute voltage and current in the case of a and capacitance). In this case X is negligible
receiving antenna and a much larger voltage and compared with R. It is also worth noting that the
current in the case of a transmitting antenna) an DC resistance (or ohmic resistance) of an
aerial is said to have impedance. Here it's worth antenna is usually very small in comparison with
remembering that impedance is a mixture of
resistance, R, and reactance, X, both measured in
its impedance and so it may be ignored. Ignoring

ohms (0). Of these two quantities, X varies with

the DC resistance of the antenna, the impedance

frequency whilst R remains constant. This is an

of an antenna may be regarded as its radiation
resistance, R, (see Figure 2.8).
important concept because it explains why Radiation resistance is important because it is
antennas are often designed for operation over a through this resistance that electrical power is
restricted range of frequencies. transformed into radiated electromagnetic energy
The impedance, Z, of an aerial is the ratio of (in the case of a transmitting antenna) and
the voltage, E, across its terminals to the current, incident electromagnetic energy is transformed
I, flowing in it. Hence: into electrical power (in the case of a receiving

E aerial).
The equivalent circuit of an antenna is shown
in Figure 2.9. The three series-connected
You might infer from Figure 2.7 that the components that make up the antenna's
impedance at the centre of the half-wave dipole impedance are:

the DC resistance, Rd.c.

should be zero. In practice the impedance is
usually between 70 n and 75 n. Furth rmore, at
the radiation resistance, R,.

resonance the impedance is purely resistive and

the 'off-tune' reactance, X.

contains no reactive component (i.e. inductance •

Antennas 19

Note that when the antenna is operated at a Example 2.2

frequency that lies in the centre of its pass-band
An H F transmitting antenna has a radiation
(i.e. when it is on-tune) the off-tune reactance is
resistance of 12 n. If a current of 0.5 A is
zero. It is also worth bearing in mind that the
supplied to it, determine the radiated power.
radiation resistance of a half-wave dipole varies
according to its height above ground. The 70 Q
to 75 n impedance normally associated with a

half-wave dipole is only realized when the P, = 1.2 x R, = (0.5)2 x 12 = 0.25 x 12 = 4 W

antenna is mounted at an elevation of 0.2
wavelengths, or more. Example 2.3
If the aerial in Example 2.2 has a DC resistance
of 2 n, determine the power loss and the radiation
Test your understanding 2.2 efficiency of the antenna.

A half-wave dipole is operated at its centre From the equivalent circuit shown in Figure 2.9,
frequency (zero off-tune reactance). If the antenna the same current flows in the DC resistance, Rd .c.,
has a total DC loss resistance of 2.5 n and is as flows in the antenna' s radiation resistance, R,.
supplied with a current of 2 A and a voltage of
25 V, determine: Hence I. = 0.5 A and Rd .c. = 2 W

!02 X
(a) the radiation resistance of the antenna
(b) the power loss in the antenna. Since F:oss =

P1oss = (0.5 i x 2 = 0.25 x 2 = 0.5 W

2.4 Radiated power and efficiency The radiation efficiency is given by:

___,_ X
In the case of a transmitting antenna, the radiated Radiation efficiency = 1 00%
power, P, produced by the antenna is given by: P, + F:oss
4 4
= -- X 1 00% = - X 1 00% = 89%
4 + 0.5 4 .5
where I. is the antenna current, in amperes, and R, I n this example, more than 1 0% of the power
is the radiation resistance in ohms. In most output is actually wasted! It is also worth noting
practical applications it is important to ensure that that in order to ensure a high value of radiation
P, is maximised and this is achieved by ensuring efficiency, the loss resistance must be kept very
that R, is much larger than the DC resistance of low in comparison with the radiation resistance.
the antenna elements.
The efficiency of an antenna is given by the
relationship: 2.5 Antenna gain
Radiation efficiency = P
,- X I 00% The field strength produced by an antenna is
P, + F:oss proportional to the amount of current flowing in
Where P1oss is the power dissipated in the DC it. However, since different types of antenna
resistance present. At this point it is worth stating produce different values of field strength for the
that whilst efficiency is vitally important in the same applied RF power level, we attribute a
case of a transmitting antenna it is generally power gain to the antenna. This power gain is
unimportant in the case of a receiving antenna. specified in relation to a reference antenna
This explains why a random length of wire can (often either a half-wave dipole or a theoretical
make a good receiving aerial but not a good isotropic radiator) and it is usually specified in
transmitting antenna ! decibels (dB)-see Appendix 2.
20 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

In order to distinguish between the two types of

reference antenna we use subscripts i and d to
denote isotropic and half-wave dipole reference (a) Light analogy
antennas respectively. As an example, an aerial
having a gain of 1 0 dBi produces ten times power

gain when compared with a theoretical isotropic
radiator. Similarly, an antenna having a gain of
1 3 dBd produces twenty times power gain when
compared with a half-wave dipole. Putting this (b) Antenna configuration - - -- - - -

another way, to maintain the same field strength

at a given point, you would have to apply 20 W to
a half-wave dipole or j ust I W to the antenna in
question! Some comparative values of antenna
gain are shown on page 28.

(c) Directional pattern

2.6 The Vagi beam antenna

Originally invented by two Japanese engineers,

Yagi and Uda, the Yagi antenna has remained Figure 2.10 Dipole antenna light analogy
extremely popular in a wide variety of
applications and, in particular, for fixed domestic
FM radio and TV receiving aerials. In order to
explain in simple terms how the Yagi antenna

works we shall use a simple light analogy.
An ordinary filament lamp radiates light in all
directions. Just like an antenna, the lamp converts (a) Antenna configuration - - - - - - - -

electrical energy into electromagr.etic energy. The
only real difference is that we can see the energy
that it produces!
The action of the fi lament lamp is comparable
with our fundamental dipole antenna. In the case
of the dipole, electromagnetic radiation will occur
all around the dipole elements (in three
dimensions the radiation pattern will take on a
(b) Light analogy
doughnut shape). In the plane that we have shown
in Figure 2 . 1 O(c), the directional pattern will be a
figure-of-eight that has two lobes of equal size. In
order to concentrate the radiation into j ust one of
the radiation lobes we could simply place a
reflecting mirror on one side of the filament lamp.
The radiation will be reflected (during which the
reflected light will undergo a 1 80° phase change)
and this will reinforce the light on one side of the (c) Directional pattern
filament lamp. In order to achieve the same effect
in our antenna system we need to place a
conducting element about one quarter of a
wavelength behind the dipole element. This
element is referred to as a reflector and it is said Figure 2.1 1 Light analogy for a dipole and
to be 'parasitic' (i.e. it is not actually connected to reflector
Antennas 21

the feeder). The reflector needs to be cut slightly Reflector Director
!driven element)

longer than the driven dipole element. The

resulting directional pattern will now only have
one major lobe because the energy radiated will
be concentrated into just one half of the figure-of­

eight pattern that we started with). Direction of maximum
radiation or maximum
Continuing with our optical analogy, in order sensitivity
to further concentrate the light energy into a Feeder

narrow beam we can add a lens in front of the

lamp. This will have the effect of bending the
light emerging from the lamp towards the normal
line (see Figure 2. 1 2). In order to achieve the
I > A/2 I = "A/2 I < "A/2
same effect in our antenna system we need to
place a conducting element, known as a director,
on the other side of the dipole and about one Figure 2. 1 3 A three-element Yagi antenna
quarter of a wavelength from it. Once again, this
element is parasitic but in this case it needs to be
cut slightly shorter than the driven dipole I f desired, additional directors can be added to
element. The resulting directional pattern will further increase the gain and reduce the
now have a narrower major lobe as the energy beamwidth (i.e. the angle between the half­
becomes concentrated in the normal direction (i.e. power or -3 dB power points on the polar
at right angles to the dipole elements). The characteristic) of Yagi aerials. Some comparative
resulting antenna is known as a three-element gain and beamwidth figures are shown on
Yagi aerial, see Figure 2. 1 3 . page 28.

(a) Antenna configuration I

- - - - -- - - -

(b) Light analogy

(c) Directional pattern

Figure 2.14 A four-element Yagi antenna

(note how the dipole element has been
'folded' in order to increase its impedance
Figure 2 . 1 2 Light analogy for a d ipole, and provide a better match to the 50 n
reflector and director feeder system)
22 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 +-- 1- - -
An alternative to improving the gain but
maintaining a reasonably wide beamwidth is that
of stacking two antennas one above another (see
,.,,� .......... Figure 2.20). Such an arrangement will usually
provide a 3 dB gain over a single antenna but will
have the same beamwidth. A disadvantage of
stacked arrangements is that they require accurate
phasing and matching arrangements.
As a rule of thumb, an increase in gain of 3 dB
can be produced each time the number of
(b) light analogy
elements is doubled. Thus a two-element antenna
will offer a gain of about 3 dBd, a four-element
antenna will produce 6 dBd, an eight-element
Yagi will realise 9 dBd, and so on.

• 2D Plot: Di pole in free s p ace

File Edt VIew Options Reset
' Total field EZNEC Demo

(c) Directional pattern

Figure 2. 1 5 Light analogy for the four­

\.'-�· .···
element Yagi shown in Figure 2 . 1 4
·. · .
: .: . ·.
299.793 MHz

Azintih Pk:i Ctrsor Az 0.0 dog.

Elevolion Angle OD deg. Gain 2.16 dBi
Outer Ring 2.16 dBi O.O dBmox
2. 7 Directional characteristics Slice Max Gain 2.16 dBi @ Az Angle • 0.0 deg.

2.16 dBi@ Az Angle • 1 80.0 deg.

Front/Side 99.99 dB
Beamwidth 77.4 deg.; -3d8 @ 321 .3, 38.7 deg.
Antenna gain is achieved at the expense of SideloiJe Gain
directional response. In other words, as the gain Frort!Sidelobe O.OdB

of an antenna increases its radiation pattern

becomes more confined. In many cases this is a Figure 2 . 1 6 Polar plot for a horizontal dipole
desirable effect (e.g. in the case of fixed point­
point communications). In other cases (e.g. a base
View Options
• 2D Plot: Cardioid
station for use with a number of mobile stations) File Ecit Reset

it is clearly undesirable. ' Total Field EZi'EC Demo

The directional characteristics of an antenna

are usually presented in the form of a polar
response graph. This diagram allows users to
determine directions in which maximum and
minimum gain can be achieved and allows the
antenna to be positioned for optimum effect.
0.0 deg.
The polar diagram for a horizontal dipole is Azimuth Plot Cursor Az
Elevolion Angle 0.0 deg. Gain 8.1 9 d8i
shown in Figure 2. 1 6. Note that there are two Ouler Rilg 8.19 dBi O.O dBmax
major lobes in the response and two deep nulls. Slice Max Gain 8.19 dBi @ Az Angle • 0.0 deg.
The antenna is thus said to be bi-directional. Fronl.tlock 35.21 dB
Beomwidlh 1 78 4 deg.; -3d8 @ 270.8, 89.2 dog.
Figure 2. 1 7 shows the polar diagram for a Sidelobe Gain -27 02 dBi @ Az Angle • 1 80.0 deg.
Front!Sidelobe 35.21 d8
dipole plus reflector. The radiation from this
antenna is concentrated into a single major lobe
and there is a single null in the response at I 80° Figure 2 . 1 7 Polar plot for a two-element
to the direction of maximum radiation. Yagi
Antennas 23

Test your understanding 2.3

Identify the antenna shown in Figure 2 . 1 9. Sketch

a typical horizontal radiation pattern for this

Test your understanding 2.4

Identify the antenna shown in Figure 2.20. Sketch

a typical horizontal radiation pattern for this
Figure 2. 1 9 See Test your understanding 2.3

Test your understanding 2.5

Figure 2. 1 8 shows the polar response of a Yagi

beam antenna (the gain has been specified
relative to a standard reference dipole). Use the
polar plot to determine:
(a) the gain of the antenna
(b) the beamwidth of the antenna
(c) the size and position of any 'side lobes'
(d) the 'front-to-back' ratio (i.e. the size of the
major lobe in comparison to the response of
the antenna at 1 80° to it).


270' I I i ' I I 9 0'

Scale: 1 dB per division 180'

Figure 2.18 Polar diagram for a Yagi beam

antenna (see Test your understanding 2.5) Figure 2.20 See Test your understanding 2.4
24 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Radiating element
Many practical forms of antenna are used in
aircraft and aviation-related applications. The
following are some of the most common types � /.J4
(several other antennas will be introduced in later

2.8.1 Vertical quarter-wave antennas
One of the most simple antennas to construct is
the quarter-wave antenna (also known as a
Marconi antenna). Such antennas produce an
omnidirectional radiation pattern in the horizontal 50 n coaxial feeder
plane and radiate vertically polarised signals.
Practical quarter-wave antennas can be produced Figure 2.21 Quarter wave vertical antenna
for the high-HF and VHF bands but their length is
prohibitive for use on the low-HF and LF bands.
In order to produce a reasonably flat radiation
pattern (and prevent maximum radiation being Radiating element

directed upwards into space) it is essential to
incorporate an effective ground plane. At VHF, W4
this can be achieved using just four quarter-wave
radial elements at 90° to the vertical radiating
element (see Figure 2.2 1 ). All four radials are
grounded at the feed-point to the outer screen of
the coaxial feeder cable.
A slight improvement on the arrangement in
Figure 2.2 1 can be achieved by sloping the radial
elements at about 45° (see Figure 2.22). This
arrangement produces a flatter radiation pattern.
At HF rather than VHF, the ground plane can
50 n coaxial feeder
be the earth itself. However, to reduce the earth
resistance and increase the efficiency of the
Figure 2.22 Quarter wave vertical antenna
antenna, it is usually necessary to incorporate
some buried earth radials (see Figure 2.23). These
with sloping radials
radial wires simply consist of quarter-wave
lengths of insulated stranded copper wire between the low-impedance coaxial feeder and
grounded to the outer screen of the coaxial feeder the end of the antenna. Such an arrangement is
at the antenna feed point. prone to losses since it requires high-quality, low­
loss components. It may also require careful
adjustment for optimum results and thus a
2.8.2 Vertical half-wave antennas quarter-wave or three-quarter wave antenna is
usually preferred.
An alternative to the use of a quarter-wave
radiating element is that of a half-wave element.
This type of antenna must be voltage fed (rather
2.8.3 5/8th wave vertical antennas
than current fed as is the case with the quarter­
wave antenna). A voltage-fed antenna requires 5/8th wave vertical antennas provide a compact
the use of a resonant transformer connected solution to the need for an omnidirectional VHF/
Antennas 25

2.8.4 Corner reflectors

Radiating element An alternative to the Yagi antenna (described

earlier) is that of a corner reflecting arrangement
),}4 like that shown in Figure 2.25. The two reflecting
surfaces (which may be solid or perforated to
reduce wind resistance) are inclined at an angle of
about 90°. This type of aerial is compact in
comparison with a Yagi and also relatively

Buried earth radials .._

_ __ Reflecting
Figure 2 .23 Quarter-wave vertical antenna
with sloping radials

� Driven element

Radiating element 5).18

Loading coil
Figure 2.25 High-gain
antenna with dipole feed
corner reflector

2.8.5 Parabolic reflectors

The need for very high gain coupled with
directional response at UHF or microwave
frequencies is often satisfied by the use of a
parabolic reflector in conjunction with a radiating

50 0 coaxial feeder
element positioned at the feed-point of the dish
(see Figure 2.26). In order to be efficient, the
diameter of a parabolic reflecting surface must be
Figure 2.24 5/8th wave vertical antenna with large in comparison with the wavelength of th�
sloping radials signal. The gain of such an antenna depends on
various factors but is directly proportional to the
ratio of diameter to wavelength.
UHF antenna offering some gain over a basic The principle of the parabolic reflector antenna
quarter-wave antenna. In fact, a 5/8th wave is shown in Figure 2.27. Signals arriving from a
vertical antenna behaves electrically as a three­ distant transmitter will be reflected so that they
quarter wave antenna (i.e. it is current fed from pass through the focal point of the parabolic
the bottom and there is a voltage maximum at the surface (as shown). With a conventional parabolic
top). In order to match the antenna, an inductive surface, the focal point lies directly on the axis
loading coil is incorporated at the feed-point. A directly in front of the reflecting surface. Placing
typical 5/8th wave vertical antenna with sloping a radiating element (together with its supporting
ground plane is shown in Figure 2.24. structure) at the focal point may thus have the
26 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

dish. This feed arrangement is often used for

reflecting surface
focal plane reflector antennas where the outer
edge of the dish is in the same plane as the half­
wave dipole plus reflector feed.
An alternative arrangement using a waveguide
and small horn radiator (see page 27) is shown in
Figure 2.29. The horn aerial offers some modest
Feed gain (usually 6 to 1 0 dB, or so) and this can be
arrangement instrumental in increasing the overall gain of the
arrangement. Such antennas are generally not
focal plane types and the horn feed will usually
require support above the parabolic surface.

Figure 2.26 Parabolic reflector antenna surface


I (/




> Half-wave



Figure 2.28 Parabolic reflector with half-wave

dipole and reflector feed
Figure 2.27 Principle of the parabolic reflector
undesirable effect of partially obscuring the
parabolic surface! In order to overcome this
problem the surface may be modified so that the
focus is offset from the central axis. � Horn
It is important to realise that the reflecting
surface of a parabolic reflector antenna is only
part of the story. Equally important (and crucial
to the effectiveness of the antenna) is the method
of feeding the parabolic surface. What's required
here is a means of illuminating or capturing
signals from the entire parabolic surface.
Figure 2.28 shows a typical feed arrangement
based on a waveguide (see page 38), half-wave
dipole and a reflector. The dipole and reflector Waveguide
has a beamwidth of around 90° and this is ideal
for illuminating the parabolic surface. The dipole Figure 2.29 Parabolic reflector with horn and
and reflector is placed at the focal point of the waveguide
Antennas 27

2.8.6 Horn antennas

Like parabolic reflector antennas, horn antennas
are commonly used at microwave frequencies.
Horn aerials may be used alone or as a means of
illuminating a parabolic (or other) reflecting
surface. Horn antennas are ideal for use with
waveguide feeds; the transition from waveguide
(see page 38) to the free space aperture being
accomplished over several wavelengths as the
waveguide is gradually flared out in both planes.
During the transition from waveguide to free
space, the impedance changes gradually. The gain
Figure 2.30 Parabolic reflector antenna with of a horn aerial is directly related to the ratio of
dipole and reflector feed its aperture (i.e. the size of the horn's opening)
and the wavelength. However, as the gain
increases, the beamwidth becomes reduced.

Figure 2.31 H igh-gain earth station antenna

with parabolic reflector and horn feed Front view

Waveguide feed
Test your understanding 2.6

Identify a n antenna type suitable for use in the

following applications. Give reasons for your
(a) an SHF satellite earth station
(b) a low-frequency non-directional beacon
(c) an airfield communication system Side view
(d) a long-range HF communication system
(e) a microwave link between two fixed points.
Figure 2.32 A horn antenna
28 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Table 2.1 Typical characteristics of some

common antennas
The purpose of the feeder line is to convey the
Gain Beamwidth power produced by a source to a load which may
(dBet) (degrees) be some distance away. In the case of a receiver,
the source is the receiving antenna whilst the load
Vertical half-wave dipole 0 360
is the input impedance of the first RF amplifier
stage. In the case of a transmitting system, the
Vertical quarter-wave with 0 360
source is the output stage of the transmitter and
ground plane
the load is the impedance of the transmitting
Four-element Yagi 6 43 antenna. Ideally, a feeder would have no losses
(i.e. no power would be wasted in it) and it would
UHF corner reflector 9 27 present a perfect match between the impedance of
the source to that of the load. In practice, this is
Two stacked vertical half- 3 360 seldom the case. This section explains the basic
wave dipoles principles and describes the construction of most
common types of feeder.
5/8th wave vertical with 2 360
ground plane
Small horn antenna for use 1 0 20 2.9.1 Characteristic impedance
at 10 GHz The impedance of a feeder (known as its
3 m diameter parabolic 40 4 characteristic impedance) is the impedance that
antenna for tracking space would be seen looking into an infinite length of
vehicles at UHF the feeder at the working frequency. The
characteristic impedance, Z0, is a function of the
inductance, L, and capacitance, C, of the feeder
Test your understanding 2. 7 and may be approximately represented by:

Identify the antenna shown in Figure 2.33. Sketch

a typical horizontal radiation pattern for this
�=� n
L and C are referred to as the primary constants
of a feeder. In this respect, L is the loop
inductance per unit length whilst C is the shunt
capacitance per unit length (see Figure 2.34).
In practice, a small amount of DC resistance
will be present in the feeder but this is usually
negligible. For the twin open wire shown in
Figure 2.2 l (a), the inductance, L, and
capacitance, C, of the line depend on the spacing
between the wires and the diameter of the two
conductors. For the coaxial cable shown in Figure
2.2 1 (b) the characteristic impedance depends
upon the ratio of the diameters of the inner and
outer conductors.

Example 2.4
A cable has a loop inductance of 20 nH and a
capacitance of 1 00 pF. Determine the
Figure 2.33 See Test your understanding 2.7 characteristic impedance of the cable.
Antennas 29

L' L' L'

L' L'
:=] J L'

(a) Loop inductance (line short-circuit at the far end)

- L

0I I c· c· --I+--0

o-I......_____I_ �I.....____o
(b) Loop capacitance (line open-circuit at the far end)

Figure 2.34 Loop inductance and loop capacitance

In this case, L 20 nH = 2 0
= x 10-9 H and C =
1 00 pF = 1 00 X 10-12 F.

Using Zu = � O gives:

l SO x l 0-9 .JL
zo -
- = 8 x l03 = .J1 800 = 42 n
(a) Open wire feeder l OO x l 0-12

2.9.2 Coaxial cables

Because they are screened, coaxial cables are
used almost exclusively in aircraft applications.
The coaxial cable shown in Figure 2.3 5(b) has a
centre conductor (either solid or stranded wire)
and an outer conductor that completely shields
the inner conductor. The two conductors are
concentric and separated by an insulating
dielectric that is usually air or some form of
polythene. The impedance of such a cable is
given by:

(b) Coaxial cable Z0 = 1 3 8log10 (�) n

Figure 2.35 Dimensions of flat twin feeder where Z0 is the characteristic impedance (in
and coaxial cables ohms), D is the inside diameter of the outside
30 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

conductor (in mm), and d is the outside diameter
of the inside conductor (in mm).

Example 2.5

High impedance
A coaxial cable has an inside conductor diameter
Low impedance
of 2 mm and an outside conductor diameter of 1 0
mm. Determine the characteristic impedance of (a) pen wire feeder
the cable.

In this case, d 2 mm and D = 1 0 mm.


Using Z0 =
1 38 log10 Q gives:

Low impedance High impedance

2.9.3 Two-wire open feeder (b) Coaxial cable
The characteristic impedance of the two-wire
open feeder shown in Figure 2 . 35 (a) is given by: Figure 2.36 Effect of dimensions on the

characteristic im pedance of open wire feeder
Z0 = 276 log10 Q and coaxial cable

where Z0 is the characteristic impedance (in 2.9.4 Attenuation

ohms), s is the spacing between the wire centres
(in mm), and r is the radius of the wire (in mm). The attenuation of a feeder is directly
Flat twin ribbon cable is a close relative of the proportional to the DC resistance of the feeder
tv.·o-wire open line (the difference between these and inversely proportional to the impedance of
two being simply that the former is insulated and the line. Obviously, the lower the resistance of
the two conductors are separated by a rib of the the feeder, the smaller will be the power losses.
same insulating material). The attenuation is given by:
When determining the characteristic impedance
of ribbon feeder, the formula given above must be A = 0. 143 � dB
modified to allow for the dielectric constant of the Zo

where A is the attenuation in dB (per metre), R is

insulating material. In practice, however, the
difference may be quite small.
the resistance in ohms (per metre) and Z is the
characteristic impedance (in ohms).
Whilst the attenuation of a feeder remains
Test your understanding 2.8
reasonably constant throughout its specified
1 . A coaxial cable has an inductance of 30 nH/m frequency range, it is usually subject to a
and a capacitance of 1 20 pF/m. Determine the progressive increase beyond the upper frequency
characteristic impedance of the cable. limit (see Figure 2 .38). It is important when
2. The open wire feeder used with a high-power choosing a feeder or cable for a particular
land-based HF radio transmitter uses wire application to ensure that the operating frequency
having a diameter of 2.5 mm and a spacing of is within that specified by the manufacturer. As
1 5 mm. Determine the characteristic an example, RG 1 78B/U coaxial cable has a loss
impedance of the feeder.
that increases with frequency from 0. 1 8 dB at 10
Antennas 31

1 .0



0 0.5

1 MHz 10MHz 100MHz 1GHz

Frequency (log. scale)

Figure 2.37 Construction of a high-quality Figure 2.38 Attenuation of a typical coaxial

coaxial cable (50 Q impedance) cable feeder

MHz, to 0.44 dB at l OO MHz, 0.95 dB at 400 Note that, in a ' loss-free' feeder, R and G are both
MHz, and 1 .4 dB at I GHz. very small and can be ignored (i.e. R 0 and G = =

0) but with a real feeder both R and G are present.

2.9.5 Primary constants

The two types of feeder that we have already R L L B.
described differ in that one type (the coaxial 2 2 2 2
feeder) is unbalanced whilst the other (the two­
wire transmission line) is balanced. In order to
fully understand the behaviour of a feeder,
whether balanced or unbalanced, it is necessary to
consider its equivalent circuit in terms of four
conventional component values; resistance,
(a) Unbalanced feeder
inductance, capacitance and conductance, as
shown in Figure 2.39. These four parameters are

known as primary constants and they are
summarised in Table 2.2. L L R
4 4 4 4

Table 2.2 The primary constants of a feeder

Constant Symbol Units

B. L L B.
Resistance R Ohms (Q) 4 4 4 4

Inductance L Henries (H) (b) Balanced feeder

Capacitance c Farads (F)

Figure 2.39 Equ ivalent circuit of balanced
Conductance G Siemens (S) and unbalanced feeders
32 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

2.9.6 Velocity factor

The velocity of a wave in a feeder is not the same
as the velocity of the wave in free space. The
ratio of the two (velocity in the feeder compared
with the velocity in free space) is known as the
velocity factor. Obviously, velocity factor must
always be less than I , and in typical feeders it
varies from 0.6 to 0.97 (see Table 2.3).

Figure 2.40 Coaxial connectors (from left to

Table 2.3 Velocity factor for various types of right: PL-259, BNC, and N-type)

Type ojfeeder Velocity factor

Two-wire open line (wire with 0.975
air dielectric)
Parallel tubing (air dielectric) 0.95
Coaxial line (air dielectric) 0.85
Coaxial line (solid plastic 0.66
Two-wire line (wire with plastic 0.68 to 0.82
Twisted-pair line (rubber 0.56 to 0.65
dielectric) (d)

2.1 0 Connectors (e)

Connectors provide a means of linking coaxial

cables to transmitting/receiving equipment and
antennas. Connectors should be reliable, easy to Figure 2.41 Method of fitting a BNC-type
mate, and sealed to prevent the ingress of connector to a coaxial cable
moisture and other fluids. They should also be
designed to minimise contact resistance and,
ideally, they should exhibit a constant impedance impedance connectors should be used for
which accurately matches that of the system in applications at frequencies of above 200 MHz.
which they are used (normally 50 n for aircraft Below this frequency, the loss associated with
applications). using non-constant impedance connectors is not
Coaxial connectors are available in various usually significant.
format (see Figure 2.40). Of these, the BNC- and Figure 2.41 shows the method of fitting a
N-type connectors are low-loss constant typical BNC connector to a coaxial cable. Fitting
impedance types. requires careful preparation of the coaxial cable.
The need for constant impedance connectors The outer braided screen is fanned out, as shown
(e.g. BNC and N-type connectors) rather than in Figure 2.4l (b) and Figure 2.4 l (c) and clamped
cheaper non-constant impedance connectors (e.g. in place whereas the inner conductor is usually
PL-259) · becomes increasingly critical as the soldered to the centre contact, as shown in Figure
frequency increases. As a general rule, constant 2.4l (d).
Antennas 33

Forward wave

Matching a source (such as a transmitter) to a

load (such as an aerial) is an important
consideration because it allows the maximum Source Load
transfer of power from one to the other. Ideally, Refiected wave

a feeder should present a perfect match between

the impedance of the source and the impedance (a) Forward and refiected waves travelling along the line
of the load. Unfortunately this is seldom the
case and all too often there is some degree of Voltage
mismatch present. This section explains the

consequences of mismatching a source to a load
and describes how the effect of a mismatch can
be quantified in terms of standing wave ratio
Where the impedance of the transmission l ine Distance

or feeder perfectly matches that of the aerial, all (b) Voltage standing wave produced
of the energy delivered by the line will be
transferred to the load (i.e. the aerial). Under
Figure 2.42 Forward and reflected waves
these conditions, no energy will be reflected
when a load is mismatched
back to the source.
If the match between source and load is
imperfect, a proportion of the energy arriving at
the load will be reflected back to the source. In Figure 2 .43(b) the load is short-circuit. This
The result of this is that a standing wave pattern represents one of the two worst-case scenarios as
of voltage and current will appear along the the voltage varies from zero to a very high
feeder (see Fig. 2 .42). positive value. In this condition, all of the
/rhe standing wave shown in F igure 2 .42 generated power is reflected back to the source.
occurs when the wave travelling from th�c In Figure 2 .43(c) the load is open-circuit. This
source to the load (i.e. the forward wave) represents the other worst-case scenario. Here
interacts with the wave travelling from the load again, the voltage varies from zero to a high
to the source (the reflected wave). It i s positive value and, once again, all of the
important t o note that both the forward and generated power is reflected back to the source.
reflected waves are moving but in opposite In Figure 2.43(d) the feeder is terminated by an
directions. The standing wave, on the other impedance that is different from the feeder's
hand, is stationary. characteristic impedance but is neither a short­
/As indicated in Figure 2 .42 when a standing circuit nor an open-circuit. This condition lies
wave is present, at certain points along the somewhere between the extreme and perfectly
feeder the voltage will be a maximum whilst at matched cases.
others it will take a minimum value. The current The standing wave ratio (SWR) of a feeder or
distribution along the feeder will have a similar transrrussJOn line is an indicator of the
pattern (note, however, that the voltage maxima effectiveness of the impedance match between the
will coincide with the current minima, and vice transmission line and the antenna. The SWR is
versa). the ratio of the maximum to the minimum current
Four possible scenarios are shown in Figure along the length of the transmission line, or the
2.43. In F igure 2 .43(a) the feeder is perfectly ratio of the maximum to the minimum voltage.
matched to the load. Only the forward wave i s When the line is absolutely matched the SWR is
present and there is no standing wave. This i s J unity. In other words, we get unity SWR when
the ideal case in which all of the energy there is no variation in voltage or current along
generated by the source is absorbed by the load. the transmission line.
34 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


4 4 4
Distance from termination
(a) Correctly terminated feeder



4 4 4
Distance from termination
(b) Feeder terminated by a short-circuit


_ _ \
4 4 4
Distance from termination
(c) Feeder terminated by an open-circuit


4 4
Distance from termination
(d) Feeder terminated by an impedance that is not equal to the characteristic impedance

Figure 2.43 Effect of different types of m ismatch

Antennas 35

. ../
The greater the number representmg SWR, the
larger is the mismatch. Also, I 2R losses increase
with increasing SWR.
For a purely resistive load:

SWR ,;_ (when Z, > Z0)



SWR = � (when Z, < Z0)


where Z0 is the characteristic impedance of the Figure 2.44 A combined RF power and
transmission line (in ohms) and Z, is the SWR meter
impedance of tbe load (also in ohms). Note that,
since SWR is a ratio, it has no units.
SWR is optimum (i.e. tmity) when Z, is equal
to Z0. It is unimportant as to which of these terms
is in the numerator. Since SWR cannot be less
than I , it makes sense to put whichever is the
larger of the two numbers in the numerator.
The average values of RF current and voltage
become larger as the SWR increases. This, in
turn, results in increased power loss in the series
loss resistance and leakage conductance
For values of SWR of between I and 2 this
additional feeder loss is not usually significant Figure 2.45 A typical SWR meter scale
and is typically less than 0.5 dB. However, when (showing SWR and % reflected power)
the SWR exceeds 2 . 5 or 3, the additional loss
becomes increasingly significant and steps should
be taken to reduce it to a more acceptable value.
detector. Secondary line, L l (and associated
components, D 1 and R I ) is arranged so that it
2.1 1 . 1 SWR measurement senses the forward wave whilst secondary line,
L2 (and associated components, D2 and R2) is
Standing wave ratio is easily measured using an connected so that it senses the reflected wave.
instrument known as an SWR bridge, SWR In use, RF power is applied to the system, the
meter, or a combined SWR/power meter (see meter is switched to indicate the forward power,
Figure 2 .44). Despite the different forms of this and Y R I is adj usted for full-scale deflecrion.
instrument the operating principle involves Next, the meter is switched to indicate the
sensing the forward and reflected power and reflected power and the SWR is read directly
displaying the difference between them. from the meter scale. More complex instruments
Figure 2 .45 shows the scale calibration for the use cross-point meter movements where the two
SWR meter circuit shown in Figure 2 .46. The pointers simultaneously indicate forward and
instrument comprises a short length of reflected power and the point at which they
transmission line with two inductively and intersect (read from a third scale) gives the value
capacitively coupled secondary lines. Each of of SWR present.
these secondary lines is terminated with a The point at which the SWR in a system is
matched resistive load and each has a signal measured is important. To obtain the most
::i::::::i:: Aircraft communications and navigation systems

,------ A
C1 4n7

SK1 Input
�: Short length of 50 n transmission line SK2 Output

I R2
1 50

FB2 Fwd. Ref. FB4 FB3

A ---t----o.



FB = ferrite bead inductor 1 0011

Figure 2.46 A typical SW R meter

meaningful indication of the SWR of an aerial the Sudden deterioration of antenna performance and
SWR should ideally be measured at the far end of an equally sudden increase in SWR usually points
the feeder (i.e. at the point at which the feeder is either to mechanical failure of the elements or to
connected to the aerial). The measured SWR will electrical failure of the feed-point connection,
actually be lower at the other end of the feeder feeder or RF connectors. Gradual deterioration,
(i.e. at the point at which the feeder is connected on the other hand, is usually associated with
to the transmitter). The reason for this apparent corrosion or ingress of fluids i nto the antenna
anomaly is simply that the loss present in the structure, feeder or antenna termination.
feeder serves to improve the apparent SWR seen The SWR of virtually all practical aeriaUfeeder
by the transmitter. The more lossy the feeder the arrangements is liable to some considerable
better the SWR! variation with frequency. For this reason, it is
Antennas 37

advisable to make measurements at the extreme 40 1 00

limits of the frequency range as well as at the E'


centre frequency. In the case of a typical
transmitting aerial, the SWR can vary from 2: I at
20 50

the band edges to 1 .2 : I at the centre. Wideband E'

I Q)
aerials, particularly those designed primarily for
receiving applications, often exhibit significantly X

0 0
higher values of SWR. This makes them unsuited

to transmitting applications. u


2.1 1 .2 A design example

In order to pursue this a little further it's worth
taking an example with some measured values to -40
237 243 249 255 261
confrrm that the SWR of a half-wave dipole (see
Frequency (MHz)
page 1 6) really does change in the way that we
have predicted. This example further underlines
Figure 2.47 Variation of resistance and
the importance of SWR and the need to have an
reactance for the 250 MHz half-wave dipole
accurate means of measuring it.
Assume that we are dealing with a simple half­
wave dipole aerial that is designed with the
following parameters: 2.5 ·· r-------;--,---,

Centre frequency: 250 MHz

Feed-line impedance: 75 ohm
Dipole length: 0.564 metres
2 ·-
Element diameter: 5 mm
Bandwidth: 5 1 MHz
Q-factor: 4.9
The calculated resistance of this aerial varies 1 .5
from about 52 n at 235 MHz to 72 n at 265
MHz. Over the same frequency range its
reactance varies from about -37 n (a capacitive
reactance) to +3 8 n (an inductive reactance). As
237 243 249 255 261
predicted, zero reactance at the feed point occurs
at a frequency of 250 MHz for the dipole length Frequency (MHz)
in question. This relationship is shown in Figure
2.47. Figure 2.48 Variation of SWR for the
Measurements of SWR show a minimum value 250 MHz half-wave dipole antenna
of about I .23 occurring at about 25 1 MHz and an
expected gradual rise either side of this value (see
Fig 2.48). This graph shows that the transmitting usually attributable to the inability of a
bandwidth is actually around 33 MHz (extending transmitter to operate into a load that has any
from 237 MHz to around 270 M Hz) for an SWR appreciable amount of reactance present rather
of 2: I instead of the intended 5 1 MHz. Clearly than to an inability of the aerial to radiate
this could be a problem in an application where a effectively. Most aerials will radiate happily at
transmitter is to be operated with a maximum frequencies that are some distance away from
SWR of 2 : 1 their resonant frequency-the problem is more
The bandwidth limitation of a system one of actually getting the power that the
(comprising transmitter, feeder and aerial) is transmitter is capable of delivering into them!
38 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

2 . 1 2 Waveguide A simple waveguide system is shown in Figure

2.50. The SHF signal is applied to a quarter
Conventional coaxial cables are ideal for coupling wavelength coaxial probe. The wave launched in
RF equipment at LF, HF and VHF. However, at the guide is reflected from the plane blanked-off
microwave frequencies (above 3 GHz, or so), this end of the wave guide and travels through sections
type of feeder can have significant losses and is of waveguide to the load (in this case a horn
also restricted in terms of the peak RF power antenna, see page 27). An example of the use of a
(voltage and current) that it can handle. Because waveguide is shown in Figure 2 . 5 1 . In this
of this, waveguide feeders are used to replace application a flexible waveguide is used to feed
coaxial cables for SHF and EHF applications, the weather radar antenna mounted in the nose of
such as weather radar. a large passenger aircraft. The antenna comprises
A waveguide consists of a rigid or flexible a flat steerable plate with a large number of
metal tube (usually of rectangular cross-section) radiating slots (each equivalent to a half-wave
in which an electromagnetic wave is launched. dipole fed in phase).
The wave travels with very low loss inside the
waveguide with its magnetic field component (the
H-field) aligning with the broad dimension of the
waveguide and the electric field component (the
E-field) aligning with the narrow dimension of
the waveguide (see Figure 2.49).

(a) Waveguide (broad dimension) showing H-field

11111 t tttt lUll t tttt

(b) Waveguide (narrow dimension) showing E-field

Figure 2.49 E- and H-fields in a rectangular Figu re 2.51 Aircraft weather radar with
waveguide steerable microwave antenna and waveguide

Coupling flanges Horn antenna

Coaxial to waveguide
transi tion ::::====
::::1..': ====

� _

Direction of wave
pmpag•lioo ---•

:: === ve9��� �
w a=

--- - · -

Coaxial input

Figure 2.50 A sim ple waveguide system comprising lau ncher, waveguide and horn antenna
Antennas 39

Resistance, R Reactance, X
50 .-------,---.--,--�--,� 50


3 40 1-------+--------+-----=-�--------
+ -----+---------l 40 3

2.5 30

2 20

0 0
1 1 7.5 1 20 1 22.5 125 127.5 1 30 1 32.5
Frequency (MHz)

Figure 2.52 See Test your knowledge 2.9

2.1 3 Multiple choice questions

Test your understanding 2.9

Figure 2.52 shows the frequency response of a 1 . An isotropic radiator will radiate:
vertical quarter-wave antenna used for local VHF (a) only in one direction
communications. Use the graph to determine the (b) in two main directions
following: (c) uniformly in all directions.
(a) The frequency at which the SWR is minimum
{b) The 2:1 SWR bandwidth of the antenna 2. Another name for a quarter-wave vertical
(c) The reactance of the antenna at 1 20 MHz antenna is:
(d) The resistance of the antenna at 1 20 MHz (a) a Yagi antenna
(e) The frequency at which the reactance of the (b) a dipole antenna
antenna is a minimum (c) a Marconi antenna.
(f) The frequency at which the resistance of the
antenna is 50 n.
3. A full-wave dipole fed at the centre must be:
(a) current fed
(b) voltage fed
Test your u nderstanding 2 . 1 0 (c) impedance fed.

Explain what i s meant by standing wave ratio 4. The radiation efficiency of an antenna:
(SWR) and why this is important in determining (a) increases with antenna loss resistance
the performance of an anten na/feeder {b) decreases with antenna loss resistance
combination. (c) is unaffected by antenna loss resistance.
40 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5. A vertical quarter-wave antenna will have a

polar diagram in the horizontal plane which is:
(a) unidirectional


(b) omnidirectional
(c) bi-directional.

2.0 /

'0 ""

1 .5

"-... /
6. Whjch one of the fol lowing gives the
""""" V
approximate length of a half-wave dipole for
1 0.7 1 0.8 1 0.9 1 1 .0 1 1.1 1 1 .2 1 1 .3 1 1 .4 1 1 .5
use at 300 MHz?
(a) 50 cm
Frequency (MHz)
(b) 1 m
(c) 2 m.
Figure 2.53 See Question 8
7 . A standing wave ra6o of 1 : I indicates:
(a) that there will be no reflected power
(b) that the reflected power will be the same
as the forward power
(c) that only half of the transmitted power will
actually be radiated.

8. Which one of the following gives the 2 : 1

SWR bandwidth o f the antenna whose
frequency response is shown in Figure 2.53?
(a) 270 kHz Figure 2.54 See Question 1 0
(b) 520 kHz
(c) 1 1 . 1 MHz.

9. Which one of the following antenna types 1 3 . The attenuation of an RF signal in a coaxial
would be most suitable for a fixed long cable:
distance HF communications link? (a) increases with frequency
(a) a corner reflector (b) decreases with frequency
(b) two stacked vertical dipoles (c) stays the same regardless of frequency.
(c) a three-element horizontal Yagi.
1 4. If a transmission line is perfectly matched to
1 0. What type of antenna is shown in Figure 2 .54? an aerial load it wil l :
(a) a folded dipole (a) have n o impedance
(b) a Yagi (b) be able to carry an infinite current
(c) a corner reflector. (c) appear to be infinitely long.

1 1 . When two antennas are vertically stacked the 1 5 . The characteristic impedance of an RF coaxial
combination will have: cable is:
(a) increased gain and decreased beamwidth (a) usually between 50 and 75 n
(b) decreased gain and increased beamwidth (b) either 300 or 600 n
(c) increased gain and unchanged beamwidth. (c) greater than 600 n.

1 2. The characteristic impedance of a coaxial 1 6. The beamwidth of an antenna is measured:

cable depends on: (a) between the 50% power points
(a) the ratio of inductance to capacitance (b) between the 70% power points
(b) the ratio of resistance to inductance (c) between the 90% power points.
(c) the product of the resistance and reactance
(either capacitive or inductive).
Tra n s m itte rs
a n d rece ive rs

Transmitters and receivers are used extensively in appreciable currents and/or voltages that appear
aircraft communication and navigation systems. in the power amplifier stage can also prove to be
In conjunction with one ore more antennas, they somewhat problematic.
are responsible for implementing the vital link The simplest form of CW receiver consists of
between the aircraft, ground stations, other nothing more than a radio frequency amplifier
aircraft and satellites. This chapter provides a (which provides gain and selectivity) followed by
general introduction to the basic principles and a detector and an audio amp lifier. The detector
operation of transmitters and receivers. These stage mixes a locally generated radio frequency
themes are further developed in Chapters 4 and 5 . signal produced by the beat frequency oscillator
(BFO) with the incoming signal to produce a
signal that lies within the audio frequency range
(typically between 300 Hz and 3 . 4 kHz).
As an example, assume that the incoming
Figure 3 . 1 shows a simple radio communication signal is at a frequency of I 00 kHz and that the
system comprising a transmitter and receiver BFO is producing a signal at 99 kHz. A signal at
for use with continuous wave (CW) signals. the difference between these two frequencies
Communication is achieved by simply switching ( 1 kHz) will appear at the output of the detector
(or 'keying' ) the radio frequency signal on and stage. This will then be amplified within the
off. Keying can be achieved by interrupting the audio stage before being fed to the loudspeaker.
supply to the power amplifier stage or even the
oscillator stage; however, it is normally applied
within the driver stage that operates at a more Example 3.1.1
modest power level. Keying the oscillator stage A radio wave has a frequency of 1 62.5 kHz. If a
usually results in impaired frequency stability. On beat frequency of 1 .25 kHz is to be obtained,
the other hand, attempting to interrupt the determine the two possible BFO frequencies.

100 kHz

1 00 kHz 1 kHz 1 kHz

RF amplifier Detector AF amplifier
Morse key

+--- 99 kHz


Figure 3.1 A sim ple radio communication system

42 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

The BFO can be above or below the incoming �������� ML M������ j��

signal frequency by an amount that is equal to the

beat frequency (i.e. the audible signal that results
from the 'beating' of the two frequencies and - e - •
which appears at the output of the detector stage).

Hence, /sFO = /RF ± fAY

from which: C
/sFO = ( 1 62.5 ± 1 .25) kHz = 1 60.75 or 1 63.25 kHz
Figure 3.3 Morse code signal for the letter C

Test your understanding 3.1

3.2 Modulation and demodulation
An audio frequency signal of 850 Hz is produced
when a BFO is set to 455.5 kHz. What is the input In order to convey information using a radio
signal frequency to the detector? frequency carrier, the signal information must be
superimposed or 'modulated ' onto the carrier.
Modulation is the name given to the process of
changing a particular property of the carrier wave
3.1 .1 Morse code in sympathy with the instantaneous voltage (or
Transmitters and receivers for CW operation are current) signal.
extremely simple but nevertheless they can be The most commonly used methods of
extremely efficient. This makes them particularly modulation are amplitude modulation (AM) and
useful for disaster and emergency communication frequency modulation ( FM). In the former case,
or for any situation that requires optimum use of the carrier amplitude (its peak voltage) varies
low power equipment. Signals are transmitted according to the voltage, at any instant, of the
using the code invented by Samuel Morse (see modulating signal. In the latter case, the carrier
Figures 3.2 and 3.3). frequency is varied in accordance with the
voltage, at any instant, of the modulating signal .
Figure 3 .4 shows the effect of amplitude and

A · - N - ·
frequency modulating a sinusoidal carrier (note

c p
B - · · · - - -
that the modulating signal is in trus case also
- · - · · - - ·
sinusoidal). In practice, many more cycles of the
RF carrier would occur in the time-span of one
- · · - - · -

E • R · - ·

F · · - · • • • cycle of the modulating signal. The process of

modulating a carrier is undertaken by a
G - - · T -

H • • • • · · - modulator circuit, as shown in Figure 3 . 5 . Th(;!

I • • V · · · -
input and output waveforms for amplitude and

J · - - - · - -
frequency modulator circuits are shown in Figure

K - · - - · · -
3 .6.
L · - · · - · - -
Demodulation is the reverse of modulation
M - - - - · ·
and is the means by which the signal information
is recovered from the modulated carrier.
6 Demodulation is achieved by means of a
1 · - - - - - · · · ·

· · - - - 7 - - · · · demodulator (sometimes also called a detector).

3 · · · - - 8 - - - · · The output of a demodulator consists of a

4 · · · · - 9 - - - - · reconstructed version of the original signal
5 • • • • • - - - - -
information present at the input of the modulator
stage within the transmitter. The input and output
waveforms for amplitude and frequency
Figure 3.2 Morse code
Transmitters and receivers 43

de modulator

Modulated carrier Modulating signal

(a) Radio frequency carrier
wave input ouput

(a) Amplitude demodulation

(b) Audio frequency modulating signal


Modulated carrier Modulating signal

wave output ouput

(b) Frequency demodulation

(c) Amplitude modulated carrier (AM) Figure 3.6 Action of a demodulator

modulator circuits are shown in Figure 3 .6. We

shall see how this works a little later.

(d) Frequency modulated carrier (FM)

3.3 AM transmitters
Figure 3.4 Modulated waveforms Figure 3 . 7 shows the block schematic of a simple
AM transmitter. An accurate and stable RF
oscillator generates the radio frequency carrier
Amplitude signal. The output of this stage is then amplified
and passed to a modulated RF power amplifier
stage. The inclusion of an amplifier between the
Carrier wave Modulated carrier
RF oscillator and the modulated stage also helps
wave output
to improve frequency stability.
r--- � The low-level signal from the microphone is
Modulating amplified using an AF amplifier before it is
signal input

(a) Amplitude modulation

passed to an AF power amplifier. The output of
the power amplifier is then fed as the supply to ·
the modulated RF power amplifier stage.
Increasing and reducing the supply to this stage is
Frequency instrumental in increasing and reducing the
modulator amplitude of its RF output signal.
The modulated RF signal is then passed
Carrier wave Modulated carrier
through an antenna coupling unit. This unit
matches the antenna to the RF power amplifier
input wave output

� and also helps to reduce the level of any

Modulating unwanted harmonic components that may be
signal input present. The AM transmitter shown in Figure 3 . 7
(b) Frequency modulation uses high-level modulation i n which the
modulating signal is applied to the final RF
Figure 3.5 Action of a modulator power amplifier stage.
44 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

AF power
Microphone AF amplifier


RF oscillator RF amplifier RF power



Figure 3.7 An AM transmitter using h igh-level modulation

Microphone AF amplifier


Modulated RF
RF oscillator power


Figure 3.8 An AM transm itter using low-level modulation

An alternative to high-level modulation of the 3.4 FM transmitters

carrier wave is shown in Figure 3 . 8 . In this
arrangement the modulation is applied to a low­ Figure 3.9 shows the block schematic of a simple
power RF amplifier stage and the amplitude FM transmitter. Once again, an accurate and
modulated signal is then further amplified by the stable RF oscillator generates the radio frequency
final RF power amplifier stage. In order to carrier signal. As with the AM transmitter, the
prevent distortion of the modulated waveform output of this stage is amplified and passed to an
this final stage must operate in l inear mode (the RF power amplifier stage. Here again, the
output wave:orm must be a faithful replica of the inclusion of an amplifier between the RF
input waveform). Low-level modulation avoids oscillator and the RF power stage helps to
the need for an AF power amplifier. improve frequency stability.
Transmitters and receivers 45


RF power
RF amplifier
RF oscillator amplifier


AF amplifier

Figure 3.8 An FM transmitter

The low-level signal from the microphone is The signal from the antenna is applied to an RF
amplified using an AF amplifier before it is amplifier stage. This stage provides a moderate
passed to a variable reactance element (see amount of gain at the signal frequency. It also
Chapter 4) within the RF oscillator tuned circuit. provides selectivity by incorporating one or more
The application of the AF signal to the variable tuned circuits at the signal frequency. This helps
reactance element causes the frequency of the RF the receiver to reject signals that may be present
oscillator to increase and decrease in sympathy on adjacent channels.
with the AF signal. The output of the RF amplifier stage is applied
As with the AM transmitter, the final RF signal to the demodulator. This stage recovers the audio
from the power amplifier is passed through an frequency signal from the modulated RF signal.
antenna coupling unit that matches the antenna to The demodulator stage may also incorporate a
the RF power amplifier and also helps to reduce tuned circuit to further improve the selectivity of
the level of any unwanted harmonic components the receiver.
that may be present. Further information on The output of the demodulator stage is fed to
transmitters will be found in Chapters 4 and 5 . the input of the AF amplifier stage. This stage
increases the level of the audio signal from the
demodulator so that it is sufficient to drive a
TRF receivers have a number of limitations
Tuned radio frequency (TRF) receivers provide a with regard to sensitivity and selectivity and this
means of receiving local signals using fairly makes this type of radio receiver generally
minimal circuitry. The simplified block schematic unsuitable for use m commercial radio
of a TRF receiver is shown in F igure 3 .9. equipment.

l RF amplifier
l Demodulator
l AF amplifier

Figure 3.9 A TRF receiver

46 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

3.6 Superhet receivers from the AM demodulator (see page 5 1 ) is used

to control the gain of the I F and RF amplifier
Superhet receivers provide both improved stages. As the signal level increases, the DC level
sensitivity (the ability to receive weak signals) from the demodulator stage increases and this is
and improved selectivity (the ability to used to reduce the gain of both the RF and IF
discriminate signals on adjacent channels) when amplifiers.
compared with TRF receivers. Superhet receivers The superhet receiver's intermediate frequency
are based on the supersonic-heterodyne fw is the difference between the signal frequency,
principle where the wanted input signal is /RF, and the local oscillator frequency, fLO · The
converted to a fixed intermediate frequency (IF) desired local oscillator frequency can be
at which the majority of the gain and selectivity is calculated from the relationship:
applied. The intermediate frequency chosen is
/LO = fRF ± /IF
generally 455 kHz or 1 .6 M Hz for AM receivers
and 1 0.7 MHz for communications and FM Note that in most cases (and in order to simplify
receivers. The simplified block schematic of a tuning arrangements) the local oscillator operates
simple superhet receiver is shown in Figure 3. 1 1 . above the signal frequency, i.e.fw = /RF + /rF. So,
The signal from the antenna is applied to an for example, a superhet receiver with a 1 .6 MHz
RF amplifier stage. As with the TRF receiver, IF tuned to receive a signal at 5 . 5 MHz will
this stage provides a moderate amount of gain at operate with an LO at ( 5 . 5 + 1 .6) = 7. 1 M Hz.
the signal frequency. The stage also provides Figure 3 . 1 0 shows the relationship between the
selectivity by incorporating one or more tuned frequencies entering and leaving a mixer stage.
circuits :-t the signal frequency.
The output of the RF amplifier stage is applied
to the mixer stage. This stage combines the RF
signal with the signal derived from the local
oscillator (LO) stage in order to produce a signal Mixer 1------ �F
at the intermediate frequency ( I F). It is worth
noting that the output signal produced by the
mixer actually contains a number of signal
components, including the sum and difference of
the signal and local oscillator frequencies as well
as the original signals plus harmonic components.
The wanted signal (i.e. that which corresponds to
the I F) is passed (usually by some form of filter­
see page 48) to the IF amplifier stage. This stage Figure 3.1 0 Action of a mixer stage in a
provides amplification as well as a high degree of superhet receiver
The output of the IF amplifier stage is fed to
the demodulator stage. As with the TRF receiver,
Example 3.2
this stage is used to recover the audio frequency
signal from the modulated RF signal.
A VHF Band II FM receiver with a 1 0.7 MHz IF
Finally, the AF signal from the demodulator
stage is fed to the AF amplifier. As before, this
covers the signal frequency range 8 8 MHz to 1 08
MHz. Over what frequency range should the local
stage increases the level of the audio signal from
oscillator be tuned?
the demodulator so that it is sufficient to drive a
Using fw = /RF + fw when /RF = 88 M Hz gives
fw = 88 MHz + 1 0.7 MHz = 98.7 M Hz
In order to cope with a wide variation in signal
amplitude, superhet receivers invariably
incorporate some form of automatic gain Using Ao = .fRF + /rF whenfRF = 1 08 MHz gives
control (AGC). In most circuits the DC level /LO = 1 08 MHz + 1 0.7 MHz = 1 1 8.7 MHz.
Transmitters and receivers 47


IF amplifier Demodulator AF amplifier


Local AGC

Figure 3.1 1 A superhet receiver

.7 Selectivity resonance. For this reason, series tuned circuits

are sometimes known as acceptor circuits.
Radio receivers use tuned circuits in order to Parallel tuned circuits, on the other hand, are
discriminate between incoming signals at sometimes referred to as rej ector circuits.
different frequencies. Figure 3 . 1 2 shows two
basic configurations for a tuned circuit; series and
parallel. The impedance-frequency characteristics Impedance
of these circuits are shown in Figure 3 . 1 3 . It is
important to note that the impedance of the series
tuned circuit falls to a very low value at the
resonant frequency whilst that for a parallel nmed
circuit increases to a very high value at

L c

(a) Series tuned circuit

(a) Series tuned circuit Impedance

c fo Frequency

(b) Parallel tuned circuit (b) Parallel tuned circuit

Figure 3.12 Series and parallel tuned circuits Figure 3.1 3 Frequency response of the
tuned circuits shown in Figure 3 . 1 2
48 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

The frequency response (voltage plotted against Clearly many strong signals will appear within
frequency) of a parallel tuned circuit is shown in this range and a significant number of them may
Figure 3 . 1 4. This characteristic shows how the be stronger than the wanted signal. With only a
signal developed across the circuit reaches a single tuned circuit at the signal frequency, the
maximum at the resonant frequency (fo). The receiver will simply be unable to differentiate
range of frequencies accepted by the circuit is between the wanted and unwanted signals.
normally defined in relation to the half-power Selectivity can be improved by adding
(-3d8 power) points. These points correspond to additional tuned circuits at the signal frequency.
70.7% of the maximum voltage and the frequency Unfortunately, the use of multiple tuned circuits
range between these points is referred to as the brings with it the problem of maintaining accurate
bandwidth of the tuned circuit. tuning of each circuit throughout the tuning range
of the receiver. Multiple 'ganged' variable
capacitors (or accurately matched variable
Vo ltag e capacitance diodes) are required.
A band-pass filter can be constructed using
Vmax. two parallel tuned circuits coupled inductively (or
capacitively), as shown in Figure 3 . 1 5 . The
frequency response of this type of filter depends
0.707 Vmax.
upon the degree of coupling between the two
tuned circuits. Optimum results are obtained with
a critical value of coupling (see Figure 3 . 1 6) . Too
great a degree of coupling results in a 'double­
humped' response whilst too little coupling
results in a single peak in the response curve
accompanied by a significant loss in signal.
Bandwidth Critical coupling produces a relatively ' flat' pass­
band characteristic accompanied by a reasonably
f1 Frequency steep fall-off either side of the pass-band.
Band-pass filters are often found in the IF
stages of superhet receivers where they are used
Figure 3. 1 4 Frequency response for a
to define and improve the receiver's selectivity.
parallel tuned circuit
Where necessary, a higher degree of selectivity
and adjacent channel rejection can be achieved
by using a multi-element ceramic, mechanical, or
A perennial problem with the design of the TRF
crystal filter. A typical 455 kHz crystal filter (for
receivers that we met earlier is the lack of
use with an HF receiver) is shown in Figure 3 . 1 8.
selectivity due to the relatively wide bandwidth of
This filter provides a bandwidth of 9 kHz and a
the RF tuned circuits. An RF tuned circuit will
very high degree of attenuation at the two
normally exhibit a quality factor (Q-factor) of
adjacent channels on either side of the pass­
about 1 00. The relationship between bandwidth,
!!..f, Q-factor, Q, and resonant frequency, .fo, for a
tuned circuit is given by:


Q C1 C2
As an example, consider a tuned circuit which has
a resonant frequency of 1 0 M Hz and a Q-factor of
1 00. Its bandwidth will be:
6.f = .fa = 10 MHz =
1 00 kHz
Q 1 00 Figure 3. 1 5 A typical band-pass filter
Transmitters a nd receivers 49

- Over-coupled


Figure 3. 1 6 Response of coupled tuned

circuits Figure 3. 1 7 B and-pass coupled tuned
circuits in the RF stages of a VHF receiver

Attenuation (dB)
Test your u nderstanding 3.2

Sketch the block schematic of a superhet receiver

and state the function of each of the blocks.

- 20
Test your understanding 3.3
An HF communications receiver has an -30
intermediate frequency of 455 kHz. What
frequency must the local oscillator operate at
when the receiver is tuned to 5.675 MHz?

- 50
Test your understanding 3.4

A tuned circuit I F filter is to operate with a centre
frequency of 1 0.7 MHz and a bandwidth of 1 50
kHz. What Q-factor is required?

Test your understanding 3.5

430 440 450 460 470
The ability of a receiver to reject signals on Frequency (kHz)
adjacent channels is determined by the selectivity
of its IF stages. Explain why this is. Figure 3 . 1 8 Mechanical I F filter response
50 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

\ RF tuned circuit
Test your understanding 3.6 I
I \
\ response
\ /
I \
Sketch the frequency response of two coupled /
/ \

tuned circuits. In relation to your answer, explain /

Wanted Local Image
what is meant by: ,'
signal oscillator channel
/ '
/ '
/ '
(a) overcoupling /
/ '

(b) undercoupling /

(c) critical coupling. 455 kHz 455 kHz

2 1 .0 2 1 .5 22.0 22.5 23.0

3.8 Image channel rejection Frequency (MHz)

(a) 455 kHz IF
Earlier we showed that a superhet receiver's
intermediate frequency, .fJF, is the difference
between the signal frequency, .fRF, and the local " RF tuned circuit
oscillator frequency, .w.
f We also derived the 1 1 response

/ \/
following formula for determining the frequency I I
of the local oscillator signal : I I
WI \
' anted Local Image
Ao =.fRF ± fiF , signal \ oscillator channel
The formula can be rearranged to make .fRF the
subj ect, as follows: I I

.fRF = Ao ± /JF 1 .6 MHz 1 .6 MHz

In other words, there are two potential radio

frequency signals that can mix with the local 1 9.0 20.0 2 1 .0 22.0 23.0 24.0 25.0

oscil lator signal in order to provide the required Frequency (MHz)

IF. One of these is the wanted signal (i.e. the (b) 1 .6 MHz IF
signal present on the channel to which the
receiver is tuned) whilst the other is referred to as
Figure 3.19 Image channel rejection
the image channel.
Being able to reject any signals that may j ust
happen to be present on the image channel of a superimposed onto both of the graphs (the same
superhet receiver is an important requirement of response curve has been used in both cases but
any superhet receiver. This can be achieved by the frequency scale has been changed for the two
making the RF tuned circuits as selective as different intermediate frequencies). From Figure
possible (so that the image channel l ies well 3 . 1 9 is should be clear that whilst the image
outside their pass-band). The problem of rejecting channel for the 455 kHz IF falls inside the RF
the image channel is, however, made easier by tuned circuit response, that for the J .6 M Hz I F
selecting a relatively high value of intermediate falls well outside the curve.
frequency (note that, in terms of frequency, the
image channel is spaced at twice the IF away
from the wanted signal).
Figure 3 . 1 9 shows the relationship that exists Test your understanding 3.7
between the wanted signal, local oscillator signal,
An FM receiver tuned to 1 1 8.6 MHz has an I F of
and the image channel for receivers with (a) a 455
1 0.7 MHz. Determine the frequency of the image
kHz I F and (b) a 1 .6 MHz IF. A typical response channel given that the local oscillator operates
curve for the RF tuned circuits of the receiver above the signal frequency.
(assuming a typical Q-factor) has been
Transmitters a rid receivers · 51

3.9 Automatic gain control 3.1 0 Double superhet receivers

The signal levels derived from the antennas fitted The basic superhet receiver shown in Figure 3 . 1 1
to an aircraft can vary from as little as 1 !.lV to has an intermediate frequency (IF) of usually
more than 1 ,000 !!V. Unfortunately, this presents either 455 kHz, 1 .6 MHz or 1 0.7 MHz. In order
us with a problem when signals are to be to achieve an acceptable degree of image channel
amplified. The low-level signals benefit from the rejection (recall that the image channel is spaced
maximum amount of gain present in a system by twice the IF away from the wanted frequency)
whilst the larger signals require correspondingly a 455 kHz IF will generally be satisfactory for the
less gain in order to avoid non-linearity and reception of frequencies up to about 5 MHz,
consequent distortion of the signals and whilst an IF of 1 .6 MHz (or greater) is often used
modulation. AM, CW and SSB receivers at frequencies above this. At VHF, intermediate
therefore usually incorporate some means of frequencies of 1 0.7 MHz (or higher) are often
automatic gain control (AGC) that progressively used.
reduces the signal gain as the amplitude of the Unfortunately, the disadvantage of using a high
input signal increases (see Figure 3 .20). IF ( 1 .6 MHz or 1 0.7 MHz) is simply that the
bandwidth of conventional tuned circuits is too
AF output
wide to provide a satisfactory degree of
voltage selectivity and thus elaborate (and expensive) I F

No AGC filters are required.
To avoid this problem and enjoy the best of
/ both worlds, many high-performance receivers
make use of two separate intermediate

Delayed AGC frequencies; the first IF provides a high degree of
Normal AGC image channel rejection whilst the second IF
provides a high degree of selectivity. Such
receivers are said to use dual conversion.
A typical double superhet receiver is shown in
Figure 3 .2 1 . The incoming signal frequency
(26 MHz in the example) is converted to a first IF
at 1 0.695 MHz by mixing the RF signal with a
RF input
first local oscillator signal at 36.695 MHz (note
Figure 3.20 AGC action that 3 6.695 MHz - 26 MHz = 1 0.695 MHz). The
first IF signal is then fi ltered and amplified before
it is passed to the second mixer stage.
In simple receivers, the AGC voltage (a DC The input of the second mixer ( 1 0.695 MHz) is
voltage dependent on signal amplitude) is derived then mixed with the second local oscillator signal
directly from the signal detector and is fed at 1 0.240 MHz. This produces the second IF at
directly to the bias circuitry of the I F stages (see 455 kHz (note that 1 0.695 MHz - 1 0.240 MHz =
Figure 3 . 1 1 ). In more sophisticated equipment, 455 kHz). The second I F signal is then filtered
the AGC voltage is amplified before being
applied to the IF and RF stages. There is, in fact,
and amplified. It is worth noting that the bulk of

no need to reduce the signal gain for small RF

the gain is usually achieved in the second IF
stages and there will normally be several stages of
signals. Hence, in more sophisticated equipment, amplification at this frequency.
the AGC circuits may be designed to provide a In order to tune the receiver, the first local
'delay' so that there is no gain reduction until a oscillator is either made variable (using
predetermined threshold voltage is exceeded. In conventional tuned circuits) or is synthesised
receivers that feature delayed AGC there is no using digital phase-locked loop techniques (see
gain reduction until a certain threshold voltage is page 5 3 ). The second local oscillator is almost
achieved. Beyond this, there is a progressive invariably crystal controlled in order to ensure
reduction in gain (see F igure 3 .20). good stability and an accurate relationship
52 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


26 MHz 26 MHz
RF First First local

amplifier mixer oscillator

36.695 MHz
10.695 MHz

First IF

10.695 MHz


455 kHz 455 kHz AF
Second Second IF Detector/ AF
mixer amplifier demodulator amplifier

10.240 MHz

Second local

Figure 3.21 A double conversion superhet receiver

between the two intermediate frequencies. Second oscillator injection

Typical IF bandwidths in the receiver shown in
Figure 3 . 2 1 are 75 kHz at the first IF and a mere 6
Image First I F
kHz in the second IF.
The first I F filter (not shown in Figure 3.2 1 ) is I
connected in the signal path between the first and I
455 kHz 455 kHz
second mixer. Where a stage of amplification is
provided at the first IF, the filter precedes the I
amplifier stage. The requirements of the filter are
not stringent since the ultimate selectivity of the I
receiver is defined by the second IF fi lter which 9.785 1 0.240 1 0 . 695
operates at the much lower frequency of 455 kHz. Frequency (MHz)
There are, however, some good reasons for
using a filter which offers a high degree of
Figure 3.22 Second oscillator signal
rejection of the unwanted second mixer image
response which occurs at 9.785 MHz. If this
image is present at the input of the second mixer,
it will mix with the second mixer inj ection at Test your understanding 3.8
1 0.240 MHz to produce a second I F component
of 455 kHz, as shown in Figure 3 .22. The Explain why AGC is necessary in an HF
function of the first IF filter is thus best described communications receiver and how it is applied.
as roofing; bandwidth is a less important
Transmitters and receivers 53

3.1 1 Digital frequency synthesis By comparison with today' s equipment such

arrangements were crude, employing as many as
The signals used within high-specification radio nine or ten i.e. devices. Complex as they were,
frequency equipment (both receivers and these PLL circuits were more cost-effective than
transmitters) must be both accurate and stable. their comparable multi-crystal mixing synthesiser
Where operation is restricted to a single counterparts. With the advent of large scale
frequency or a limited number of channels, quartz integration in the late 1 970s, the frequency
crystals may be used to determine the frequency generating unit in most radio equipment could be
of operation. However, when a large number of reduced to one, or perhaps two, LSI devices
frequencies must be covered, it is necessary to together with a handful of additional discrete
employ digital frequency generating techniques in components. The cost-effectiveness of this
which a single quartz crystal oscillator is used in approach is now beyond question and it is
conjunction with LSI circuitry to generate a range unlikely that, at least in the most basic equipment,
of discrete frequencies. These frequencies usually much further refinement will be made. In the area
have a constant channel spacing (typically 3 k.Hz, of more complex receivers and transceivers,
8.33 kHz, 9 k.Hz, 1 2. 5 k.Hz, 25 k.Hz, etc.). however, we are now witnessing a further
Frequencies are usually selected by means of a revolution in the design of synthesised radio
rotary switch, push-buttons or a keypad but can equipment with the introduction of dedicated
also be stored in semiconductor memories. microcomputer controllers which permit keypad
Digital phase locked loop (PLL) circuitry was programmed channel selection and scanning with
first used in military communications equipment pause, search, and lock-out facilities.
in the mid- 1 960s and resulted from the need to The most basic form of PLL consists of a phase
generate a very large number of highly accurate detector, filter, DC amplifier and voltage
and stable frequencies in a multi-channel controlled oscillator (VCO), as shown in Figure
frequency synthesiser. In this particular 3 .2 3 . The VCO is designed so that its free­
application cost was not a primary consideration running frequency is at, or near, the reference
and highly complex circuit arrangements could be frequency. The phase detector senses any error
employed involving large numbers of discrete between the VCO and reference frequencies. The
components and integrated circuits. output of the phase detector is fed, via a suitable
Phase locked loop techniques did not arrive in filter and amplifier, to the DC control voltage
mass-produced equipment until the early 1 970s. input of the VCO. If there is any discrepancy

Voltage Output


Low-pass Phase
filter detector



Figure 3.23 A sim ple phase locked loop

54 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

between the YCO output and the reference When the loop is locked (i.e. when no phase error
frequency, an error voltage is produced and thjs is exists) we can infer that:
used to correct the VCO frequency. The VCO
thus remains locked to the reference frequency. If free = fo or fo = n free
the reference frequency changes, so does the n
YCO. The bandwidth of the system is deternrined A sirrular divider arrangement can also be used at
by the time constants of the loop filter. In the reference input to the phase detector, as
practice, if the YCO and reference frequencies are shown in F igure 3 .2 5 . The frequency appearing at
very far apart, the PLL may be unable to lock. the reference input to the phase detector will be
The frequency range over which the circuit can /r.tlm and the loop will be locked when:
achieve lock is known as the capture range. It
should be noted that a PLL takes a finite time to
her fo or fo = !!... free

achjeve a locked condition and that the VCO m n m

locks to the mean value of the reference Thus if /r.r, n and m were respectively 1 00 kHz,
frequency. 2,000 and 1 0, the output frequency,.fouto would be:
The basic form of PLL shown in Figure 3.23 is
(2,0001 1 0) x 1 00 kHz = 20 MHz
lirruted in that the reference frequency is the same
as that of the YCO and no provision is If the value of n can be made to change by
incorporated for changing it, other than by replacing the fixed divider with a programmable
varying the frequency of the reference oscillator divider, different output frequencies can be
itself. In practice, it is normal for the phase generated. If, for example, n was variable from
detector to operate at a much lower frequency 2,000 to 2, 1 00 in steps of 1 , then .fout would range
than that of the VCO output and thus a frequency from 20 MHz to 2 1 MHz in 1 0 kHz steps. F igure
divider is incorporated in the YCO feedback path 3 .26 shows the basic arrangement of a PLL which
(see Figure 3 .24). The frequency presented to the incorporates a programmable divider driven from
phase detector wil l thus be fJn, where n is the the equipment' s digital frequency controller
divisor. (usually a microprocessor).

Voltage Output






Figure 3.24 A phase locked loop with frequency divider

Transm itters and receivers 55


oscillator fo = (nlm)f,et

F requency




Figure 3.25 A complete digital frequency synthesiser

In practice, problems can sometimes arise in devices in the RF amplifier, mixer, and product
high-frequency synthesisers where the detector · stages and junction gate FETs in the
programmable frequency divider, or divide-by-n local oscillator stage. These devices offer high
counter, has a restricted upper frequency limit. In gain with excellent strong-signal handling
such cases it will be necessary to mix the high­ capability. They also permit simple and effective
frequency VCO output with a stable locally coupling between stages without the need for
generated signal derived from a crystal oscillator. complex impedance matching.
The mixer output (a relatively low difference The receiver is tunable over the frequency
frequency) will then be within the range of the range 5.0 MHz to 6.0 MHz. Used in conjunction
programmable divider. with a simple antenna, it offers reception of
aircraft signals at distances in excess of 1 ,000 km.
The receiver is based on the single superhet
principle operating with an intermediate
frequency of 455 kHz. This frequency is low
We shall bring thjs chapter to a conclusion by enough to ensure reasonable selectivity with j ust
providing a design example of a complete H F two stages of IF amplification and with the aid of
communications receiver. This receiver was a low-cost 455 kHz filter. Adequate image
developed by the author for monitoring trans­ rejection is provided by two high-Q ganged RF
Atlantic HF communications in the 5 . 5 MHz tuned circuits.
aircraft band. The circuit caters for the reception The design uses conventional discrete
of AM, CW (Morse code) and SSB signals (see component circuitry in all stages with the
Chapter 5). To aid stability, the CIOIBFO exception of the audio amplifier/output stage and
frequency is controlled by means of a ceramic voltage regulator. This approach ensures that the
resonator. The RF performance is greatly receiver is simple and straightforward to align
enhanced by the use of dual gate MOSFET and does not suffer from the limitations

455 kHz

5.5 MHz 5.5 MHz 455 kHz First IF 455 kHz Second IF 455 kHz SSB/CW SSB/CW AF AF
Antenna RF amplifier Mixer
amplifier amplifier .... amplifier
input (TR 1 ) (TR2)
(TR3) (TR4) AM (IC1 )

5.955 MHz detector
DC bias (D3)
j --t_ w

AGC Signal meter

5.955 MHz � amplifier dri"er
(TR10) (TR9)
Signal meter
Diode switch
+5V regulator DC input
(D? to D9)
f-- -


Figure 3.26 Su perhet receiver design example

Transmitters and receivers 57

associated with several of the popular integrated The local oscillator stage (TR7) provides the
circuit IF stages. necessary local oscillator signal which tunes from
The block diagram of the receiver is shown in 5.455 MHz to 6.455 MHz. The local oscillator
Figure 3.26. The vast majority of the receiver's signal is isolated from the mixer stage and the LO
gain and selectivity is associated with the two IF output by means of the buffer stage, TR8.
stages, TR3 and TR4. These two stages provide The receiver incorporates two detector stages,
over 40 dB of voltage gain and the three IF tuned one for AM and one for CW and SSB. The AM
circuits and filter are instrumental in reducing the detector makes use of a simple diode envelope
IF bandwidth to about 3 .4 kHz for SSB reception. detector (D3) whilst the CW/SSB detector is
The RF stage (TR l ) provides a modest amount of based on a product detector (TR5). This stage
RF gain (about 20 dB at the maximum RF gain offers excellent performance with both weak and
setting) together with a significant amount of strong CW and SSB signals. The 455 kHz carrier
image channel rejection. insertion is provided by means of the BFO/CIO

,----- +9V


JN2 1 1 3N211


From B
(local oscillator)

Figure 3.27 RF stages of the superhet receiver


R14 R18
220 220

To C (AGC amplifier)

From B
(455 kHz IF input)

455 kHz IF
R17 output

'-----+ From F (AGC bias)

Figure 3.28 IF stages of the superhet receiver

58 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


VC1c 47p
50p SK6

LO output

Figure 3.29 Local oscillator and buffer stages of the superhet receiver


AM Stb

C30 C31
R26 100n 47u SSBICW
1k To G

From E
(455 kHz I F)

t OOk

--4r----._--1-----�--�--+---+---����-- 0V

Figure 3.30 Product detector and BFO/CIO stages of the superhet receiver



Ext. speaker
R19 16 IC1
4k7 S1a u LM386N
From 0
(AM detector) -
�� 100n LS
C14 C15
B ohm
470p 820p R22
( VOLUME ) 15

From G
(SSBICW detector)

Figure 3.31 AF stages of the superhet receiver

Transmitters and receivers 59


12dB ON )
54a S4b
RV4 R40
22k 100k
From SK3 R44 To RFT1
From C
Lo-Z Input R43 91 R45 via 01/02
(IF output)
To F 82 82
(AGC bias)

(b) RF input attenuator

(a) Signal meter and AGC amplifier

To X To X
(AF amplifier) (AF amplifier)

010 011 C48


OA91 OA91

C48 C47 C49 L1
100n 100n 1u 40mH

I ( N . L. ON 56 ( FILl. ON

(c) Noise limiter (d) Audio filter

Figure 3.32 Signal meter, AGC , RF i nput attenuator, noise limiter and audio filter stages

automatic changeover for the external DC or AC
supplies. This circuitry also provides charging
current for the internal nickel-cadmium (NiCd)
battery pack.


"' 3.1 3 Multiple choice questions


1 . A receiver in which selected signals of any

frequency are converted to a single frequency
Figure 3.33 Power supply is called a:
(a) wideband TRF
(b) multi-channel receiver
stage (TR l l ). Amplified AGC is provided by (c) superhet receiver.
means of TR9 and TR l O.
A conventional integrated circuit audio 2. Delayed AGC:
amplifier stage (!C l ) provides the audio gain (a) maintains receiver sensitivity for very
necessary to drive a small loudspeaker. A 5 V small signals
regulator (IC2) is used to provide a stabilised (b) increases receiver sensitivity for very large
low-voltage DC rail for the local oscillator and signals
buffer stages. Diode switching is used to provide (c) has no effect on receiver sensitivity.
60 Aircraft digital electronic and computer systems

3 . A receiver with a high I F wil l successfully I 0. The response of two coupled tuned circuits
reject: appears to be 'double-humped' . This is a
(a) the image frequency result of:
(b) the adjacent frequency (a) undercoupling
(c) the local oscillator frequency. (b) overcoupling
(c) critical coupling.
4. An IF amplifier consists of several stages.
These are nonnally coupled using: 1 1 . A disadvantage of low-level amplitude
(a) resistor/capacitor coupling modulation is the need for:
(b) pure resistor coupling (a) a high-power audio amplifier
(c) transformer coupling. (b) a high-power RF amplifier
(c) a linear RF power amplifier.
5. SSB filters have a typical bandwidth of:
(a) less than 300 Hz 1 2 . The function of an antenna coupling unit in a
(b) 3 k.Hz to 6 k.Hz transmitter is:
(c) more than l 0 k.Hz. (a) to provide a good match between the RF
power amplifier and the antenna
6. The output signal of a diode detector (b) to increase the harmonic content of the
comprises the modulated waveform, a small radiated signal
ripple and a DC component. The DC (c) the reduce the antenna SWR to zero.
component is:
(a) independent of the carrier strength 1 3 . ln order to improve the stability of a local
(b) proportional to the carrier strength oscillator stage:
(c) inversely proportional to the carrier (a) a separate buffer stage should be used
strength. (b) the output signal should be fi ltered
(c) an IF filter should be used.
7. What is the principal function of the RF stage
in a superbet receiver? 1 4. A dual conversion superhet receiver uses:
(a) To improve the sensitivity of the receiver (a) a low first IF and a high second I F
(b) To reduce second channel interference (b) a high fust IF and a low second I F
(c) To reduce adjacent channel interference. (c) the same frequency for both first and
second IF.
8. A receiver having an IF of 1 .6 MHz is tuned
to a frequency of 1 2.8 MHz. Which of the 1 5 . The majority of the gain in a superhet receiver
following signals could cause image channel is provided by:
interference? (a) the RF amplifier stage
(a) 1 1 .2 MHz (b) the I F amplifier stage
(b) 1 4 . 5 MHz (c) the AF amplifier stage.
(c) 1 6.0 MHz.
1 6. Image channel rejection in a superhet receiver
9. In an FM transmitter, the modulating signal is is improved by:
applied to: (a) using an IF filter
(a) the final RF amplifier stage (b) using a low I F
(b) the antenna coupling unit (c) using a high IF.
(c) the RF oscillator stage.
Ch apte r VH F
co m m u n icati ons

Very high frequency (VHF) radio has long been

the primary means of communication between
aircraft and the ground. The system operates in
the frequency range extending from 1 18 MHz to
137 MHz and supports both voice and data
communication (the latter becoming increasingly
important). This chapter describes the equipment
used and the different modes in which it operates.
VHF communication is used for various Figure 4. 1 VHF line-of-sight range
purposes including air traffic control (ATC),
approach and departure information, transmission
Example 4.1
of meteorological information, ground handling
of aircraft, company communications, and also
Determine the maximum line-of-sight distance
for the Aircraft Communications and Reporting
when an aircraft is flying at a height of (a) 2 ,500
System (ACARS).
feet, and (b) 25,000 feet.

In (a), h = 2,500 hence:

4.1 VHF range and propagation
d = 1 . 1� = l . l x 50 = 55 nm

In the VHF range ( 3 0 MHz to 300 MHz) radio In (b), h = 25 ,000 hence:
= 1 . 1 J25, 000 1 . 1 x 1 5 8 = I 7 4
waves usually propagate as direct line-of-sight
(LOS) waves (see Chapter 1 ). Sky wave d = nm

propagation still occurs at the bottom end of the

VHF range (up to about 50 MHz depending upon The actual range obtained depends not only on
solar activity) but at the frequencies used for the LOS distance but also on several other
aircraft communication, reflection from the factors, including aircraft position, transmitter
ionosphere is exceptionally rare. power, and receiver sensitivity. However, the
Communication by strict line-of-sight (LOS) LOS distance usually provides a good
paths, augmented on occasions by diffraction and approximation of the range that can be obtained
reflection, imposes a limit on the working range between an aircraft and a ground station (see ·
that can be obtained. It should also be evident that Table 4. 1 ). The situation is slightly more complex
the range will be dependent on the height of an when communication is from one aircraft to
aircraft above the ground; the greater this is the another; however, in such cases summing the two
further the range will be. LOS distances will normally provide a guide as to
The maximum line-of-sight (LOS) distance the maximum range that can be expected.
(see Figure 4. 1 ) between an aircraft and a ground
station, in nautical miles (nm), is given by the
relationship: Test your understanding 4.1
d = l . I Jh Determine the altitude of an aircraft that would
where h is the aircraft's altitude in feet above provide a line-of-sight distance to a ground station
located at a d istance of 1 25 nm.
ground (assumed to be flat terrain).
62 Aircraft communications and navigation systems


Table 4.1 Theoretical LOS range
Radio frequency carrier

Altitude (feet) Approx. LOS range (nm)

I OO 10
Lower side frequency Upper side frequency
I ,OOO 32 (LSF) (USF)

5,000 70
20,000 141 I I
1 24.574 MHz 1 24.576 MHz

14.2 DSB modulation

1 24.575 MHz



Amplitude modulation 1s used for voice Figure 4.2 Frequency spectrum of an RF
communications as well as several of the VHF carrier using DSB modulation and a pure I
data link (VDL) modes. The system uses double sinusoidal modulating signal
sideband (DSB) modulation and, because this
Radto freqoency carrier
has implications for the bandwidth of modulated
signals, it is worth spending a little time
explaining how this works before we look at how Audio frequency
modulaling signal
the available space is divided into channels.
Figure 4.2 shows the frequency spectrum of an
RF carrier wave at I 24.575 MHz amplitude
modulated by a single pure sinusoidal tone with a
frequency of I kHz. Note how the amplitude
modulated waveform comprises three separate
• an RF carrier at 1 24.575 MHz
Figure 4.3 Frequency spectrum of a
• a lower side frequency (LSF) component at
baseband voice signal (left} and the resulting
I 24.574 M Hz .
DSB AM RF carrier (note that the bandwidth
• an upper side frequency (USF) component at
of the RF signal is a pproximately twice that
I 24.576 MHz.
of the highest modulating signal frequency)
Note how the LSF and USF are spaced away
from the RF carrier by a frequency that is equal to
select this particular range of frequencies and
that of the modulating signal (in this case I kHz).
reject any audio signals that lie outside it. From
Note also from F igure 4.2 that the bandwidth
Figure 4.3 it should be noted that the bandwidth
(i.e. the range of frequencies occupied by the
of the RF signal is approximately 7 kHz (i.e.
modulated signal) is twice the frequency of the
twice that of the highest modulating signal).
modulating signal (i.e. 2 kHz).
F igure 4.3 shows an RF carrier modulated by a

speech signal rather than a single sinusoidal tone.
The baseband signal (i.e. the voice signal itself) Test your understanding
typically occupies a frequency range extending
from around 300 Hz to 3 .4 kHz. Indeed, to Determine the RF signal frequency components
improve intelligibility and reduce extraneous present in a DSB amplitude modulated carrier
noise, the frequency response of the microphone wave at 1 1 8.975 MHz when the modulating signal
and speech amplifier is invariable designed to comprises pure tones at 2 kHz and 5 kHz.
VHF communications 63

VHF aircraft communications take place in a

number of allocated channels. These channels
were originally spaced at 200 kHz intervals
throughout the VHF aircraft band. However, a +---25 kHz----+
relentless increase in air traffic coupled with the (a) 25 kHz channel spacing

increasing use of avionic systems for data link

communication has placed increasing demands on
the available frequency spectrum. In response to
this demand, the spacing between adjacent
Lse use Lse use Lse use LSe USS
channels in the band 1 1 8 MHz to 1 3 7 MHz has
been successively reduced so as to increase the
number of channels available for VHF ---- +-.33 kHz I• 8.33 kHz ·I• :.----f - - - -
8.33 kH
communication (see Table 4.2).
(b) 8.33 kHz channel spacing
Figure 4.4 shows the channel spacing for the
earlier 25 kHz and current European 8.33 kHz
VHF systems. Note how the 8.33 kHz system of Figure 4.4 25 kHz and 8.33 kHz channel
channel spacing allows three DSB AM signals to spacing
occupy the space that was previously occupied by
a single signal.
The disadvantage of narrow channel spacing is Test your understanding 4.3
that the guard band of unused spectrum that
previously existed with the 25 kHz system is How many channels at a spacing of 1 2.5 kHz can
completely absent and that receivers must be occupy the band extending from 1 1 8 MHz to
designed so that they have a very high degree of 1 25 MHz?
adjacent channel rejection (see page 48). Steps
must also be taken to ensure that the bandwidth of
the transmitted signal does not exceed the 7 kHz,
or so, bandwidth required for effective voice Test your understanding 4.4
communication. The penalty for not restricting
the bandwidth is that signals from one channel A total of 1 520 data channels are to be
may 'spill over' into the adjacent channels, accommodated in a band extending from
causing interference and degrading com­ 31 6 MHz to 335 MHz. What channel spacing must
munication (see Figure 4.7). be used and what range of frequencies can the
baseband signal have?

Table 4.2 Increase in the number of

available VHF channels
4.4 Depth of modulation
Channel Number of
Date Frequency range
spacing channels The depth of modulation of an RF carrier wave is
1947 1 1 8 MHz to 132 MHz 200 kHz 70 usually expressed in terms of percentage
1958 1 1 8 MHz to 1 32 MHz l OO kHz 140 modulation, as shown in Figure 4.6. Note that
the level of modulation can vary between 0%
1959 1 1 8 MHz to 136 MHz l OO kHz 1 80
(corresponding to a completely unmodulated
1 964 1 1 8 MHz to 1 3 6 MHz 50 kHz 360 carrier) to 1 00% (corresponding to a fully
1 972 1 1 8 MHz to 136 MHz 25 kHz 720 modulated carrier).
In practice, the intelligibility of a signal (i.e.
1 979 1 1 8 MHz to 1 3 7 MHz 25 kHz 760
the ability to recover information from a weak
1995 1 1 8 MHz to 137 MHz 8.33 kHz 2280 signal that may be adversely affected by noise
64 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Adjacent channel interference

and other disturbances) increases as the
percentage modulation increases and hence there

is a need to ensure that a transmitted signal is
fully modulated but without the attendant risk of
over-modulation (see Fig. 4.6). The result of
over-modulation is excessive bandwidth, or
'splatter', causing adjacent channel interference,
DSB signal with excessive bandwidth
as shown in Fig. 4.7. due to ovcrmodulation

Figure 4. 7 Adjacent channel interference

caused by overmodulation
(a) O%

4.5 Compressioo

In order to improve the intelligibility of VHF

voice communications, the speech amplifier stage
(b) 20% of an aircraft VHF radio is invariably fitted with a
compressor stage. This stage provides high gain
for low amplitude signals and reduced gain for
high amplitude signals. The result is an increase
in the average modulation depth (see Figure 4.8).
Figure 4.9 shows typical speech amplifier
characteristics with and without compression.
Note that most aircraft VHF radio equipment
provides adjustment both for the level of
modulation and for the amount of compression
that is applied (see Figure 4. 1 0).

Figure 4.5 Different modulation depths

3 dB compression
Carrier completely cut-off

6 dB compression

Figure 4.8 Modulated RF carrier showing

different amounts of compression applied to
Figure 4.6 Over-modulation the modulating signal

Average modulation depth

The alternative (and somewhat superior) squelch
100% system involves sensing the noise present at the
output of the receiver's detector stage and using
this to develop a control signal which is
dependent on the signal-to-noise ratio of the
50% received signal rather than its amplitude. This
latter technique, which not only offers better
sensitivity but is also less prone to triggering
from general background noise and
signals, is often found in FM receivers and is
0% referred to as noise operated squelch.
Speech level

Figure 4.9 Effect of compression on

average modulation depth 4.7. Data modes
Modern aircraft VHF communications equipment
supports both data communication as well as
voice communication. The system used for the
aircraft data link is known as Aircraft
Communications Addressing and Reporting
System (ACARS). Currently, aircraft are
equipped with three VHF radios, two of which
are used for ATC voice communications and one
is used for the ACARS data link (also referred to
as airline operational control communications).
A data link terminal on board the aircraft (see
Figure 4. 1 2) generates downlink messages and
processes uplink messages received via the VHF
data link. The downlink and uplink ACARS
messages are encoded as plain ASCII text. In the
Unites States, the ACARS ground stations are
operated by ARINC whilst in Europe, Asia and
Latin America, the equivalent service is provided
Aircraft VHF receivers invariably incorporate a by SITA.
system of muting the receiver audio stages in the Initially each VHF ACARS provider was
absence of an incoming signal. This system is allocated a single VHF channel. However, as the
designed to eliminate the annoying and use of VHF data links (VDL) has grown, the
background noise that is present when number of channels used in the vicinity of the
signals are being received. Such systems are busiest airports has increased to as many as four
to as squelch and the threshold at which and these are often operating at full capacity.
operates is adj usted (see Figure 4. 1 0) so that Unfortunately, due to the pressure for
squelch 'opens' for a weak signal but 'closes' additional voice channels, it has not been possible
no signal is present. to assign a number of additional VHF channels
Two quite different squelch systems are used for ACARS data link operation. As a result,
the most common (and easy to implement) several new data modes have recently been
responds to the amplitude of the received introduced that support higher data rates and
and is known as carrier operated make more efficient use of each 25 kHz channel
The voltage used to inhibit the receiver currently assigned for data link purposes.
can be derived from the receiver's AGC In addition, the FAA is developing a system
and fed to the squelch gate (Figure 4 . 1 1 ). that will permit the integration of ATC voice and
66 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

'I ;';i I l j

---+--- AF amplifier

Squelch gate
-+-- IF amplifier - Demodulator f---- � o-



(a) No signal present (squelch gate open)


Squelch gate
-+-- IF amplifier
f---+- Demodulator
f---- --<>----<>----
---+--- AF amplifier

DC level

I amplifier

(b) Signal present (squelch gate closed)

Figure 4. 1 1 Action of the squelch system

data communications. This system uses digitally there is no phase change .on the transition between
encoded audio rather than conventional analogue the two tones. .
voice signals. This type of modulation (in which , the
When operating in VDL Mode 0, the required frequency spacing between the two. audio tones is
data link protocols are implemented in the exactly half the data rate) .is highly efficient in
ACARS management unit (see Figure 4. 1 1 ). . terms of bandwidth and is thus referred to . as
Data . is transferred from the VHF radio to the minimum shift keying (MSK). When data is
· management unit at a rate of 2400 bits per second transmitted, the MSK signal is used to modulate
(bps) by means of frequency shift keying (FSK). the amplitude of the VHF carrier (in much the
The FSK audio signal consists of two sinusoidal same was as the voice signal). The resultant
tones, one at a 1 .2 kHz and one at 2.4 kHz transmitted signal is then a double side-band
depending on whether the polarity of the (DSB) AM signal whose amplitude is modulated
information bit being transmitted is the same as at 2400 bps. Tht? RF carrier is then said to u5e
that of the previous bit or is different. Note that DSB AM MSK modulation.
the phase of the tones varies linearly and that VHF carrier frequency, selection and transmit/
VHF com munications 67

Table 4.3 Summary of voice and data modes

Channel Radio
Mode Modulation Access method Data rate Type of traffic
spacing interface

Voice DSB AM 25/8.33 kHz PTI Not applicable Voice Analogue

Data (Mode 0) 25 kHz CSMA 2,400 bps ACARS Analogue

Data (Mode A) 2 5 kHz CSMA 2,400 bps ACARS ARINC 429

Data (Mode 2) D8PSK 25 kHz CSMA 3 1 ,500 bps ARINC 429

receive control is provided by the ACARS aeronautical telecommunications network (ATN).

management unit working in conjunction with an This network will permit more efficient and
ARINC 429 interface to the VHF radio (Figure seamless delivery of data messages and data files
4.12). The channel access protocol employed is between aircraft and the ground computer
known as carrier sense multiple access systems used by airlines and air ·.traffic control
(CSMA). It consists of listening for activity on facilities.
the channel (i.e. transmissions from other users) ATN will be supported by a number of air/
and transmitting only when the channel is free. ground networks and ground/ground networks.
Operation in VDL Mode A is similar to Mode The air/ground and ground/ground networks will
0 except uplink and downlink ACARS data be interconnected by means of ATN routers that
packets are transferred between the VHF radio implement the required protocols and will operate
and the ACARS management unit via a transmit/ in much the same way as the Internet with which
receive pair of 1 00 kbps ARINC 429 digital you are probably already familiar.
interfaces rather than the analogue audio interface VDL Mode 2 employs a data rate of 3 1 ,500
used by Mode 0. The digital data is then used by bits per second over the air/ground link using a
the VHF radio to modulate the RF carrier at a rate single 25 kHz channel. The increased utilization
of 2400 bps using the same DSB AM MSK of the 25 kHz channel is achieved by employing a
modulation scheme used by VDL Mode 0. system of modulation that is more efficient in
Another difference between VDL Mode 0 and terms of its use of bandwidth. This system is
VDL Mode A is that, when using the latter, the known as differential eight phase shift keying
VHF radio controls when to access the channel to (D8PSK). In this system, an audio carrier signal
transmit data using the same CSMA protocol is modulated be means of shift in phase that can
employed by the management unit in VDL Mode take one of eight possible phases; 0°, 45°, 90°,
0. However, the selection of the frequency to be 1 3 5°, 1 80°, 225°, 270° or 3 1 5°. These phase
used is still controlled by the CMU or ATSU by changes correspond to three bits of digital data as
means of commands issued via the same ARINC follows: 000, 00 1 , 0 1 1 , 0 1 0, 1 1 0, 1 1 1 , 1 0 1 , or
429 interface used for data transfer. Note that, as 1 00. The D8PSK modulator uses the bits in the
far as the VHF data link ground stations are data message, in groups of three, to determine the
concerned, there is no difference in the air/ground carrier phase change at a rate of 1 0.5 kHz.
VDL Mode 0 or VDL Mode A transmissions. Consequently, the bit rate will be three times this
Operation in VDL Mode 2 is based on an value, or 3 1 .5 kbps. D8PSK modulation of the
improved set of data transfer protocols and, as a phase of the VHF carrier is accomplished using a
result, it provides a significant increase in data quadrature modulator. Note that, in D8PSK
capacity. VDL Mode 2 has been designed to modulation, groups of three bits are often referred
provide for the future migration of VDL to the to as D8PSK symbols.
68 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

VDL Mode 3 offers an alternative to the some features that are similar to those currently
European solution of reducing the channel used for electronic mail.
spacing to 8.33 kHz. VDL Mode 3 takes a 25 kHz The ACARS system was originally specified in
frequency assignment and divides it into 1 20 ms the ARINC 597 standard but has been revised as
frames with four 30 ms time slots (each of which ARINC 724B. A significant feature of ACARS is
constitutes a different channel). Thus Mode 3 the ability to provide real-time data on the ground
employs time division multiplexing (TDM) relating to aircraft performance; this has made it
rather than frequency division multiplexing possible to identify and plan aircraft maintenance
(FDM) used in the European system. Note that activities.
VDL Mode 3 is the only planned VDL mode that ACARS communications are automatically
is designed to support voice and data traffic on directed through a series of ground-based ARlNC
the samefrequency. (Aeronautical Radio Inc.) computers to the
relevant aircraft operator. The system helps to
VHF antenna reduce the need for mundane HF and VHF voice
messages and provides a system which can be
\I! logged and tracked. Typical ACARS messages
are used to convey routine information such as:

• passenger loads
VHF control
(with PTI) • departure reports
unit transceiver
Speaker or
• arrival reports
headphones • fuel data
MSK audio/ • engine performance data.
D8PSK data
This information can be requested by the
Data ACARS Data company and retrieved from the aircraft at
management Printer
control unit
periodic intervals or on demand. Prior to ACARS
this type of information would have been
transferred via VHF voice.
ACARS uses a variety of hardware and
software components including those that are
installed on the ground and those that are present

Figure 4. 1 3 VHF radio data management

Hl Block id :
ACARS mode : E A i r c r a f t reg : N2 7 0 1 5
Me s s age l abe l : 3
Msg no : C36C
F l i gh t id: C00 0 0 4
Me s s age content : -

0 6 S E P 0 6 C L H PL
ACARS (Aircraft Communication Addressing
MSG 2 8 2 0 1 2 1 A 0 0 5 1
and Reporting System) is a digital data link
system transmitted in the VHF range ( 1 1 8 MHz MSG 3 1 8 0 1 4 1 A 0 0 2 4 0 6 S E P 0 6 TA I 23
to 1 36 MHz). ACARS provides a means by PL
which aircraft operators can exchange data with
an aircraft without human intervention. This MSG 2 3 9 4 2 0 1 A 0 0 0 5 0 6 S E P 0 6 E S
makes it possible for an airline to communicate MSG 2 7 1 7 0 1 8

with the aircraft in their fleet in much the same

way as it is possible to exchange data using a
land-based digital network. ACARS uses an Figure 4.1 4 Example of a downlink ACARS
aircraft's unique identifier and the system has message sent from a Boeing 777 aircraft
..... -

VHF communications 69

in the aircraft. The aircraft ACARS components ACARS mode : 2

I include a management unit (see Figure 4. 12) Aircraft reg : G- DBCC
Mes s a g e l a be l : SU
which deals with the reception and transmission
Block i d : 4
of messages via the VHF radio transceiver, and
Msg no : M 5 5A
the control unit which provides the crew Fl i g h t id: BDO lNZ
interface and consists of a display screen and Me s s age content : -
printer. The ACARS ground network comprises 0 1 WXRQ O l N Z / 0 5 EGLL/ EBBR . G- DBCC
the ARINC ACARS remote transmitting/ / T Y P 4 / S TA EBBR/ STA EBOS / S TA EBCI
receiving stations and a network of computers
and switching systems. The ACARS command,
control and management subsystem consists of Figure 4.14 Example of an ACARS message
the ground-based airline operations and (see text)
associated functions including operations control,
maintenance and crew scheduling.
There are two types of ACARS messages;
ACARS mode : 2 Aircraft reg : N 7 8 8UA
downlink messages that originate from the
Me s s age l a be l : RA B l o c k i d : L
aircraft and uplink messages that originate from
Msg . no : QUHD
ground stations (see Figures 4. 1 4 to 4. 1 7). F l i gh t id: QWDUA­
Frequencies used for the transmission and Me s s age content : ­
reception of ACARS messages are in the band WE I GHT MAN I FE S T
extending from 1 29 MHz to 1 37 MHz (VHF) as UA 9 3 0 S FOLHR
shown in Table 4.4. Note that different channels S FO

are used in different parts of the world. A typical Z FW 383485

TOG 559485
ACARS message (see F igure 4. 1 4) consists of:
MAC 40 . 1
• mode identifier (e.g. 2) TRIM 02 . 8
• aircraft identifier (e.g. G-DBCC) ' '
• message label (e.g. 5U-a weather request)
• block identifier (e.g. 4) Figure 4.1 5 Example of aircraft transmitted
• message number (e.g. M55A) data (in this case, a weight manifest)
• flight number (e.g. BDO 1 NZ)
• message content (see Figure 4. 1 4).

ACARS mode : X Aircraft reg : N l 9 9XX

Me s s a ge l a be l : Hl Bl ock i d : 7
Table 4.4 ACARS channels
Msg n o : FO OM
Fl i g h t id: GS O O O O
Frequency A CARS service Me s s age content : -
129. 1 25 MHz USA and Canada (additional) INTERFACE
130.025 MHz USA and Canada (secondary)
1 30.450 MHz USA and Canada (additional) TERRA I N 1-2 FA I L ADVISORY
1 3 1 . 1 2 5 MHz USA (additional)
22-10 2 2 1 0 0 9ATA1 OC=l
1 3 1 .475 MHz Japan (primary) TQA FAULT [ ATA l ]
1 3 1 .525 MHz Europe (secondary) 22-10 2 2 1 0 0 9ATA

I 1 3 1 .550 MHz USA, Canada, Australia (primary)

1 3 1 . 725 MHz Europe (primary)
Figure 4.1 6 Example of a failure advisory
1 36.900 MHz Europe (additional) message transmitted from an aircraft
70 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

ACARS mode : R Ai r c r a f t reg : G-EUPR

Me s s age l abe l : 10 Block id: 8
Msg no : M0 6A
F l i gh t id : BA0 1 8 Z
Me s s age c o n t e n t : -
BA1 3 0 4
ETL 0740 GMT

Figure 4.1 7 Example of a plain text message Figure 4.1 8 Three VH F radios (on the
sent via ACARS extreme left) installed in the aircraft's avionic
equipment bay

Test your understanding 4.5

Explain the need for (a) speech c0mpression and

(b) squelch in an aircraft VHF radio.

Test your understanding 4.6

Explain, with the aid of a block diagram, how data

transfer is possible using an aircraft VHF radio.

Figure 4. 1 9 VHF communications frequency

selection panel (im mediately above the ILS
Test your understanding 4. 7 panel)

Explain the difference between MSK and D8PSK

modulation. Why is the latter superior?

4.9 VHF radio equipment

The typical specification of a modem aircraft

VHF data radio is shown in Table 4.5. This radio
can be used with analogue voice as well as data in
Modes 0, A and 2 (see page 65). Figures 4. 1 8 to
4.20 show typical equipment and control
locations in a passenger aircraft whilst Figures
4.2 1 to 4.24 show i nternal and external views of a
typical VHF radio. Finally, Figure 4.25 shows a Fig u re 4.20 ACARS control panel
typical VHF quarter-wave blade antenna fitted to (immed iately to the right of the VHF
an Airbus A380 aircraft. com munications frequency selection panel)
VHF communications 71

Figu re 4.22 Digital frequency synthesiser

stages of the V H F radio. The quartz crystal
control led reference oscillator is at the
bottom left corner and the frequency divider
chain runs from left to right with the screened
VCO at the top
Figure 4.21 Aircraft VHF radio removed from
its rack mounting

Table 4.5 Aircraft VHF radio specifications

Parameter Specificarion

Frequency range 1 1 8 .00 MHz to 1 36.99 1 67 M Hz

Channel spacing 8.33 k:Hz or 25 kHz

Operating modes Analogue voice (AR INC 7 1 6);

Analogue data 2400 bps AM MSK
ACARS (external modem );
ARINC 750 Mode A analogue data
Fig ure 4.23 Screened receiver pre-amplifier
Mode 2 data 3 1 .5 kbps D8PSK
2400 bps AM MSK ACARS;
and transmitter power amplifier stages (top)
Sensitivity 2 11 V for 6 dB ( S+N)fN

Selectivity 6 dB max. attenuation at ± 1 6 k Hz

(25 kHz channels) 60 dB min. attenuation at ±34 k Hz

Selectivity 6 dB max. attenuation at ± 5.5 kHz

(8.33 kHz channels) 60 dB min. attenuation at ± 1 4.7 k H z

50 m into 600 n ± 20%

Audio power output Adjustable from kss than 50 j .! W to

RF output power 25 W min. DSB AM operation

1 8 W min. D8PSK operation

Frequency stability ±0.005%

Modulation level 0.25 V RMS input at 1 k H z will

modulate the transmitter at least 90%

Speech processing Greater than 20 dB of compression Fig ure 4.24 RF power amplifier stages with
Mean time Greater than 40,000 hours the screening removed. There are three
between fai I ure linear power stages and one driver (left)
72 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5. The function of the compressor stage in an

aircraft VHF radio is:
(a) to reduce the average level of modulation
(b) to increase the average. level of modulation
(c) to produce 1 00% modulation at all times.

6. The function of the squelch stage in an

aircraft VHF radio is:
(a) to eliminate noise when no signal is
(b) to increase the sensitivity of the receiver
for weak signals
(c) to remove unwanted adj acent channel

7. Large passenger aircraft normally carry:

(a) two VHF radios
(b) three VHF radios
Figure 4.25 The forward quarter-wave VHF (c) four VHF radios.
blade antenna on the Airbus A380 (see page
1 5 for the VHF antenna locations on a 8. The typical bandwidth of a DSB AM voice
Boeing 757) signal is:
(a) 3 .4 kHz
(b) 7 kHz
4.1 0 Multiple choice questions (c) 25 kHz.

1 . The angle between successive phase changes 9. The disadvantage of narrow channel spacing
of a D8PSK signal is: is:
(a) 45° (a) the need for increased receiver sensitivity
(b) 90° (b) the possibility of adjacent channel
(a) 1 80°. interference
(c) large amounts of wasted space between
2. The method of modulation currently channels.
employed for aircraft VHF voice
communication is: 1 0. The standard for ACARS is defined in:
(a) MSK (a) ARINC 429
(b) D8PSK (b) ARINC 573
(c) DSB AM. (c) ARINC 724.

3 . The channel spacing currently used in Europe 1 1 . The frequency band currently used in Europe
for aircraft VHF voice communication is: for aircraft VHF voice communication is:
(a) 8.33 kHz and 25 kHz (a) 88 MHz to 1 08 MHz
(b) 1 2 . 5 kHz and 25 kHz (b) 1 08 MHz to 1 34 MHz
(c) 25 kHz and 50 kHz. (c) 1 1 8 MHz to 1 37 MHz.

4. Which one of the following gives the 1 2 . The typical output power of an aircraft VHF
approximate LOS range for an aircraft at an radio using voice mode is:
altitude of 1 5,000 feet? (a) 25 W
(a) 74 nm (b) 1 50 w
(b) 96 nm (c) 300 W.
(c) 1 35 nm.
Chapter HF
-�_.;5 ..
___ com m u n i cati ons

High frequency (HF) radio provides aircraft with ,,..

an effective means of communication over long
distance oceanic and trans-polar routes. In ,,..
addition, global data communication has recently ...

been made possible using strategically located HF

. data link (HFDL) ground stations. These provide
access to ARINC and SITA airline networks. HF
communication is thus no longer restricted to 100'

voice and is undergoing a resurgence of interest

due to the need to find a means of long distance
data communication that will augment existing
VHF and SATCOM data links. ...

An aircraft HF radio system operates on spot

frequencies within the HF spectrum. Unlike
aircraft VHF radio, the spectrum is not divided
into a large number of contiguous channels but / I \ .

aircraft allocations are interspersed with many o I

other services, including short wave broadcasting, ---r-

fixed point-to-point, marine and land-mobile, 1

government and amateur services. This chapter \

describes the equipment used and the different i -�··-

modes in which it operates.

... T 40'

Figure 5.1 VHF aircraft coverage in the

5.1 HF range and propagation North Atlantic area

In the HF range (3 MHz to 30 MHz) radio waves

propagate over long distances due to reflection lowest usable frequency (LUF) and the maximum
from the ionised layers in the upper atmosphere. usable frequency (MUF). The daytime LUF is
Due to variations in height and intensities of the usually between 4 to 6 MHz during the day,
ionised regions, different frequencies must be falling rapidly after sunset to around 2 MHz. The
used at different times of day and night and for MUF is dependent on the season and sunspot
different paths. There is also some seasonal cycle but is often between 8 MHz and 20 MHz.
vanatwn (particularly between winter and Hence a typical daytime frequency for aircraft
summer). Propagation may also be disturbed and communication might be 8 MHz whilst this might
enhanced during periods of intense solar activity. be as low as 3 MHz during the night. Typical
The upshot of this is that HF propagation has ranges are in the region of 500 km to 2500 km
considerable vagaries and is far less predictable and this effectively fills in the gap in VHF
than propagation at VHF. coverage (see Figure 5 . 1 ).
Frequencies chosen for a particular radio path As an example of the need to change
are usually set roughly mid-way between the frequencies during a 24-hour period, Figure 5.2
74 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Santa Maria service (NAT-A)

0 = service available




o +-.-.-.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.,-.-.-.-.-.-.-.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.
OD 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 1 1 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

(b) Variation of MUF (Madrid-New York)

Figure 5.2 Santa M aria oceanic service (NAT-A) showing operational frequencies and times
together with typical variation of M U F for a path from Madrid to New York

shows how the service provided by the Santa

Maria HF oceanic service makes use of different
parts of the HF spectrum at different times of the Unfortunately, the spectrum available for aircraft
day and night. Note the correlation between the communications at HF is extremely limited. As a
service availability chart shown in Figure 5 .2(a) result, steps are taken to restrict the bandwidth of
and the typical variation in maximum usable transmitted signals, for both voice and data.
frequency (MUF) for the radio path between Double sideband (DSB) amplitude modulation
Madrid and New York. requires a bandwidth of at least 7 kHz but this can
The following HF bands are allocated to the be reduced by transmitting only one of the two
aeronautical service: sidebands. Note that either the upper sideband
(USB) or the lower sideband (LSB) can b.e used
• 2850 to 3 1 55 kHz ·
because they both contain the same modulating
• 3400 to 3500 kHz signal information. In addition, it is possible to
• 4650 to 4750 kHz reduce (or 'suppress ') the carrier as this, in itself,
• 5480 to 5730 kHz does not convey any information.
• 6525 to 6765 kHz ·
In order to demodulate a signal transmitted
• 88 1 5 to 9040 kHz without a carrier it is necessary to reinsert the
• 1 0,005 to 1 0, 1 00 kHz carrier at the receiving end (this is done in the
• 1 1 , 1 75 to 1 1 ,400 kHz demodulator stage where a beat frequency
• 1 3,200 to 1 3,360 kHz oscillator or carrier insertion oscillator replaces
• 1 5,0 1 0 to 1 5, 1 00 kHz the missing carrier signal at the final intermediate
• 1 7,900 to 1 8,030 kHz frequency-see Figure 5 .9). The absence of the
• 2 1 ,870 to 22,000 kHz carrier means that less power is wasted in the
• 23,200 to 23,350 kHz. transmitter which consequently operates at
significantly higher efficiency.
H F communications 75

Radio frequency carrier

Figure 5.3 shows the frequency spectrum of an
RF signal using different types of amplitude
modulation, with and without a carrier.
In F igure 5.3(a) the mode of transmission is
conventional double sideband (DSB) amplitude
modulation with full-carrier. This form of
modulation IS used for VHF aircraft

) �
1 1
communications and was described earlier in

f, - 3.4 kHz f, + 3.4 kHz Chapter 4.
Figure 5.3(b) shows the effect of suppressing

L-7 _j
f, - 300 Hz f, + 300 Hz
f, the carrier. This type of modulation is known as
kHz appr
double sideband suppressed-carrier (DSB-SC).
In practical DSB-SC systems .the level of the
(a) Double sideband (DSB) full-carrier AM
carrier is typically reduced by 30 dB, or more.
The DSB-SC signal has the same overall
bandwidth as the DSB full-carrier signal but the
Lower Sldeband Upper sideband reduction in carrier results in improved efficiency
(LSB) (USB) as well as reduced susceptibility to heterodyne
) � F igure 5.3(c) shows the effect of removing

f, - 3.4 kHz f, + 3.� kHz both the carrier and the upper sideband. The

L-7 _j
f, - 300 Hz f, + 300 Hz
, resulting signal is referred to as single sideband
kHz approx.
(SSB), in this case using only the lower sideband
(LSB). Note how the overall bandwidth has been
(b) Double sideband suppressed-carrier (DSB-SC) reduced to only around 3.5 kHz, i.e. half that of
the comparable DSB AM signal shown in Figure
5 .3(a).
Finally, Figure 5 .3 (d) shows the effect of
removing the carrier and the lower sideband.
Once again, the resulting signal is referred to as

-!----�-+-+-- - - - - - - - -
1 single sideband (SSB), but in this case we are
f, - 3.4 kHz

I using .only the upper sideband (USB). Here

f - 300 Hz again, the overall bandwidth has been reduced to
3.5 kHz approx. -
around 3.5 kHz. Note that aircraft HF
communication requires the use of the upper
(c) Single sideband suppressed-carrie! (SSB-SC) sideband (USB). DSB AM may also be available
but is now very rarely used due to the superior
performance offered by SSB.
Upper sideband

- - - - - - - - - �-7'-----!--
f, + 3.� kHz
Test your understanding 5.1


f, + 300 Hz Explain why HF radio is used on trans-oceanic
f, routes.
- 3.5 kHz approx.
2. Explain why different frequencies are used for
(d) Single sideband suppressed-carrier (SSB-SC) HF aircraft communications during the day and
at night.
3. State TWO advantages of using SSB
Figure 5.3 Frequency spectrum of an RF
modulation for aircraft HF communications.
carrier using DSB and SSB modulation
76 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Table 5.1 SELCAL tone frequencies

Selective calling (SELCAL) reduces the burden Character Frequency

on the flight crew by alerting them to the need to
respond to incoming messages. SELCAL is A 3 1 2.6 Hz
available at HF and VHF but the system is more 346.7 Hz

used on HF. This is partly due to the intermittent
nature of voice communications on long oceanic 384.6 Hz

routes and partly due to the fact that squelch D 426.6 Hz

systems are more difficult to operate when using
E 473.2 Hz
SSB because there is no transmitted carrier to
indicate that a signal is present on the channel . F 524.8 Hz
The aircraft SELCAL system is defmed in 5 82 . 1 Hz
Annex l 0 to the Convention on International
Civil Aviation ( ICAO), Volume l , 4th edition of H 645.7 Hz

1985 (amended 1 987). The system involves the J 7 1 6. 1 Hz

transmission of a short burst of audio tones.
794.3 Hz
Each transmitted code comprises two
consecutive tone pulses, with each pulse L 88 1 . 0 Hz
containing two simultaneously transmitted tones. 977.2 Hz

The pulses are of 1 second duration separated by
an interval of about 0.2 seconds. To ensure proper 1 083.9 Hz

operation of the SELCAL decoder, the frequency Q 1 202.3 Hz

of the transmitted tones must be held to an
1 3 33.5 Hz
accuracy of better than ± 0. 1 5%.
SELCAL codes are uniquely allocated to s 1 479. 1 Hz
particular aircraft by Air Traffic Control (ATC).
As an example, a typical transmitted SELCAL
code might consist of a 1 second burst of
3 1 2.6 Hz and 977.2 Hz followed by a pause of 5.4 H F data link
about 0.2 secomls and a further l second burst of
tone comprising 346.7 Hz and 977.2 Hz. Table ARINC 's global high frequency data link
5 . 1 indicates that the corresponding transmitted (HFDL) coverage provides a highly cost-effective
SELCAL code is 'AM-BM' and only the aircraft data link capability for carriers on remote oceanic
with this code would then be alerted o the need routes, as well as the polar routes at high latitudes
to respond to an incoming message. where SATCOM coverage is unavailable. HFDL
The RF signal transmitted by the ground radio is lower in cost than SATCOM and many carriers
station should contain (within 3 dB) equal are using HFDL instead of satellite services, or as
amounts of the two modulating tones and the a backup system. HFDL is still the only data link
combination of tones should result in a technology that works over the North Pole,
modulation envelope having a nominal providing continuous, uninterrupted data link
modulation percentage as high as possible (and in coverage on the popular polar routes between
no case less than 60%). North America and eastern Europe an' Asia.
The transmitted tones are made up from The demand for HFDL has grown steadily
combinations of the tones listed in Table 5 . 1 . since ARINC launched the service in 1 998, and
Note that the tones have been chosen so that they today HFDL avionics are offered as original
are not harmonically related (thus avoiding equipment by all the maj or airframe
possible confusion within the SELCAL decoder manufacturers. HFDL offers a cost-effective
when harmonics of the original tone frequencies solution for global data link service. The demand
might be present in the demodulated waveform). for HFDL service is currently growing by more
HF communications 77

- - - -

On the ground Take-off and departure En route Arrival and landing On the ground
Voice communications: VHF Voice communications: VHF Within LOS Voice communications; VHF Voice communications: VHF
Data communications: VOL Data communications: VOL Voice communications: VHF Data communications: VDL Data communications: VDL
Data communications: VDL
From the aircraft From the aircraft From the aircraft From the aircraft
Outside LOS
Fuel data Engine data Gate requests Fuel informalion
Voice communications: HF
Crew Information etc. Provision requests Crew information
Data communications: HFDL
Link test To the aircraft ETA Fault data from CMC
etc. Right plan update Engine information etc.
To the aircraft Weather reports From the aircraft Maintenance reports To the aircraft
Weight and balanoe data Traffic updates Position reports etc. Taxi information
Airport Information etc. ETA/Delay Information To the aircraft Ground handling
Flight plan Weather reports Gate assignment etc.
Meteorological data Engine information Passengers and crew data
PDC/ATIS Maintenance reports ATIS
Ground handling etc. etc.
etc. To the a;rcraft
Flight plan update
Weather reports
Oceanic clearances

Figure 5.4 Aircraft operational control at various 'out-off-on-in' (0001) stages

than several hundred aircraft per year. HFDL uses phase shift keying (PSK) at data
Advantages of HFDL can be summarised as: rates of 300, 600, 1 200 and 1 800 bps. The rate
used is dependent on the prevailing propagation
• wide coverage due to the extremely long
conditions. HFDL is based on frequency division
range of HF signals
multiplexi ng (FDM) for access to ground station
• simultaneous coverage on several bands frequencies and time division multiplexing
and frequencies (currently 60) (TDM) within individual communication
• multiple ground stations (currently 1 4) at channels. Figure 5.5 shows how the frequency
strategic locations around the globe spectrum of a typical HFDL signal at 300 bps
• relatively simple avionics using well-tried compares with an HF voice signaL
• rapid network acquisition
A:. Pe:•k Frcquency"'11 52.1 H�
• excceptional network availability_ 1.00
0.80 ·
Disadvantages of HFD L are: 0.70
• very low data rates (making the system 0.40
0.30 .
unsuitable for high-speed wideband 0.20
communications). O.lHI
0 .00 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 3.00 3.50 ·toll 4.50 5.00
As a result of the above, the vast majority of
A:. Peek Frequency"'l442.8 Hz
HFDL messages are related to airline 1.00--

operational control (AOC) (see Fig_ure 5 A) but 0.90


HFDL is also expected to play an important part

in future air navigation systems (FANS) where

it will provide a further means of data linking 0.30

with an aircraft, supplementing VDL, GPS, and 0.1 0

SATCOM systems_ Note that SATCOM can 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 3.00 3.50
4.00 4.50 5.00
support much faster data rates but it can also be
susceptible to interruptions and may not available Figure 5.5 Frequency spectra of voice
at high latitudes. (upper trace) and HFDL signals (lower trace)
78 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Preamble 3 0 0 bps 1.8 sec ! nterl eaver FREQ ERR 5 . 3 9 B 1 1 6 Hz E rrors 0

Nr LPDUs = 1 Ground s ta t i on I D SHANNON - I R E LAND SYNCHED
Ai r c r a ft ID LOG-ON
S l o t s Requ e sted medium = 0 Low = 0
Max B i t ' rate l B O O bps U ( R ) = 0 UR ( R ) ve c t 0


1 4 : 4 5 : 24 UTC F'light I D = AB3 7 B 4 LAT 3 9 3 7 10 N LON 0 , 2 1 2 0

4 . .1
07 B 7 FF 00 04 0 0 14 85 9 2 BF 3 C 12 OA FF DS . . . . . .. . . . . .

. ..g
. .

.. . . . . . . .
4 1 4 2 3 3 3 7 38 3 4 C B C2 3 1 B F EF C 2 67 BB BC A B 3 7 B

. . . . . .. . . .
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 . . . . . .

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 . . .. . .

00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Preamble 3 0 0 bps l . B s e c I n t e rleaver FREQ ERR - 1 B . B 6 B 4 B 3 H z E r ro r s 19

N r LPDUs = 1 Ground s ta t ion I D SHANNON - I RE LAND SYNCHED
A i r c ra ft I D LOG-ON

0 UR ( R ) vect
S l o t s Reque stea medium = 0 Low = 0
Max B i t rate 1 2 0 0 bps U ( R ) = 0

. . . . ... . . . . .J . .
1 4 : 4 5 : 30 UTC Flight I D = SU0 1 0 6 LAT 5 4 42 16 N LON 25 50 42 E

s u 0 '1. 0 6 j n . . . . g 3
07 8 7 FF 0 0 03 00 14 BO l E B F 0 2 B O 4 A FE DS
53 55 30 31 30 3 6 6A 6E F2 60 12 CS 67 3 3 FB

e ro 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 · -· . . . ... . . . . . . .
00 00 00 00 00 • • • • • 0 ••• ••• • • •
00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Preamble 3 0 0 bps l . B sec I nte rleaver FREQ ERR 1 5 . 0 5 9 2 4 7 H z E r ro r s 2

Nr LPDUs = 1 Ground s ta t i o n I D SHANNON - IRELAND SYNCHED
A i rc r a f t ID AF
S l o t s Reque s ted medium = 0 Low = 0
Max B i t rate 1 2 0 0 bps U ( R ) = 0 UR ( R ) vect 0

. . . .L H 8
1 4 : 4 5 : 30 UTC Flight ID LHB 4 0 9 LAT 4 6 4 2 34 N LON 2 1 22 55 E
07 B 7 AF 0 0 03 0 <1 3 1 4 D l D O D FF D1 4C 48 3B . . . . . .. 1 M
34 30 39 73 13 8 2 3 4 O F CS 67 01 36 03 02 02 4 0 9 s • • 4 ..g . 6 . . .

. .. . .
0 0 B6 00 00 00 0 0 00 00 00 00 03 00 00 00 00 • • • 0 • •• • • • • • • • •

02 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 01 0 1 D 3 EA 0 0 . . .
- . . . . . . .

00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Preamble 3 0 0 bps 1.8 sec I n t e r 1eaver FREQ ERR B . 3 5 5 8 4 5 Hz E r rors 0

N r LPDUs = 1 Ground s t ation I D SHANNON - IRELAND SYNCHED
Aircraft ID AD
S l o t s Requested medium = 0 Low = 0
Max B i t rate 1 2 0 0 bps U ( R ) = 0 UR ( R ) vect 0

. . . . . .1 .. R 8
14 : 4 3 : 30 UTC Flight I D LH 8 3 9 3 LAT 5 2 37 27 N 'LON 1 6 46 41 E

b . . . g • 0 .-•
07 8 7 AD 0 0 03 0 0 3 1 CS OB OD FF D 1 4C 4 8 38 . . . .L

33 3 9 3 3 BF 5 6 6 2 EE OB B 9 6 7 0 1 BA 0 7 01 BB 3 9 3 . V •

. ....
00 7E 00 00 00 00 00 00 0 0 0 6· O F 0 0 0 0 00 00 . . . .. . . . . . . . ..

2E 00 00 00 00 00 05 00 00 00 05 07 OB 27 00 .
. . . . . . . . .

00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Figure 5.6 Examples of aircraft communication using HFDL

HF communications 79

Figure 5. 7 Ground station and aircraft locations for the HFDL communications in Figure 5.6

.each log-on request, the aircraft is identified by

its unique 24-bit ICAO address. Once logged on,
the aircraft is allocated an 8-bit address code (AF
hex in the case of the third message and AD hex
in the case of the fourth message). Each aircraft
also transmits its current location data (longitude
and latitude).
The system used for HFDL data exchange is
Figure 5.8 Radio path for LH8409 specified in ARINC 635. Each ground station
transmits a frame called a 'squitter' every 32
seconds. The squitter frame informs aircraft of
Figure 5.6 shows typical HFDL messages sent the system status, provides a timing reference and
from the four aircraft shown in Figure 5.7 to the provides protocol control. Each ground station
Shannon HFDL ground station using the same has a time offset for its squirters. This allows
communications channel. The radio path from aircraft to jump between ground stations fmding
one of the aircraft (LH8409) is illustrated in the best one before logging on. When passing
Figure 5.8. The first two of the messages shown traffic, dedicated TDM time slots are used. This
in Figure 5.6 are log-on requests and the prevents two aircraft transmitting at the same
maximum bit rate is specified in the header. In time causing data coUisions.
80 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5.5 HF radio equ ipment When used on receive mode, the incoming signal
frequency is mixed with the output from the
The block schematic of a simple HF transmitter/ digital frequency synthesiser in order to produce
receiver is shown in Figure 5.9. Note that, whilst the intermediate frequency signal. Unwanted
this equipment uses a single intermediate adj acent channel signals are removed by means of
frequency (IF), in practice most modem aircraft another multiple-stage crystal or mechanical filter
HF radios are much more complex and use two or which has a pass-band similar to that used in the
three intermediate frequencies. transmitter. The IF signal is then amplified before
On transmit mode, the DSB suppressed carrier being passed to the demodulator.
(Figure 5 .2b) is produced by means of a The (missing) carrier is reinserted in the
balanced modulator stage. The balanced demodulator stage. The carrier signal is derived
modulator rejects the carrier and its output just from an accurate crystal controlled carrier
comprises the upper and lower sidebands. The oscillator which operates at the IF frequency. The
DSB signal is then passed through a multiple­ recovered audio signal from the demodulator is
stage crystal or mechanical filter. This filter has a then passed to the audio amplifier where it is
very narrow pass-band (typically 3.4 kHz) at the amplified to an appropriate level for passing to a
intermediate frequency (IF) and this rejects the loudspeaker.
unwanted sideband. The resulting SSB signal is The typical specification for an aircraft HF
then mixed with a signal from the digital radio is shown in Table 5.2. One or two radios of
frequency synthesiser to produce a signal on the this type are usually fitted to a large commercial
wanted channel. The output from the mixer is aircraft (note that at least one HF radio is a
then further amplified before being passed to the requirement for any aircraft following a trans­
output stage. Note that, to avoid distortion, all of oceanic route). Figure 5 . 1 0 shows the flight deck
the stages must operate in linear mode. location of the HF radio controller.

Microphone Balanced Power
(]}-- amplifier f-- modulator f-- Filter
I-- Mixer
1-- Driver
amplifier 1--

! •

L Antenna
oscillator I-- Demodulator --

t t
I--- 1-- r-
Mixer Filter IF amplifier

control -

Digital frequency synthesiser

t u
Frequency control

Figure 5.9 A simple SSB transmitter/receiver

HF communications 81

Table 5.2 Aircraft H F radio specifications 5 . 6 H F antennas a n d coupling units

Parameter Specification Extemal wire antennas were frequently used on

Frequency range
early aircraft. Such antennas would usually run
2.0000 MHz to 29.9999 M Rz from the fu elage to the top of the vertical
Tuning steps l OO Hz stabiliser and they were sufficiently long to

SSB SC analogue voice ( AR rNC 7 1 9)

permit resonant operation on one or more of the
aeronautical HF bands. Unfortunately this type of
Operating modes
and analogue data (ARJNC 753 and
ARINC 635) at up to 1 800 bps; antenna is umeliable and generally tmsuitable for
DSB AM (full carrier) use with a modern high-speed passenger aircraft.
I J.LV for 1 0 dB ( S+N)/ SSB; The use of a large probe antenna is unattractive
4 pV for I 0 dB (S+N) AM
due to its susceptibility to static discharge and
Selectivity 6 dB max. attenuation at +2.5 kHz l ightning strike. Hence an alternative solution in
60 dB min. attenuation at + 3 .4 k H z which the H F antenna i s protected within the
50 m W into 600 Q
airframe is highly desirable. Early experiments
Audio output

50 mW into 600 Q
(see Figure 5 . 1 3) showed that the vertical
SELCAL output
stabiliser (tail fin) would be a suitable location
RF output power 200 W pep min. SSB;
50 W min. DSB AM

rrequency stability ±20 Hz

Audio response 3 50 H z to 2500 Hz at -6 dB

Mean time Greater than 50,000 hours

between fa i 1 u re

Figu re 5.1 1 H F antenna location

Figure 5 . 1 0 H F radio control unit

Test your understanding 5.2

1. Explain how H F data link (H FDL) differs from

VHF data link ( VDL). Under what
circumstances is HFDL used and what
advantages does it offer?
2. Explain briefly how an aircraft logs on to the
Figure 5 . 1 2 View from the top of the
HFDL system . How are data collisions
vertical stabiliser ( leading edge panel
82 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 6.0


l'S. , �
� 1\
. "'>� \
� Q)


�r �=:
. . �

"'-"" /



. ... (f)
1 .0
, (. "" ... . - ... = � - -:-·-- · ... 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27
- - ��;;7" -
Frequency (MHz)

Figure 5. 1 4 Variation of SWR with frequency
for an HF notch antenna (note the
:_......� ....... logarithmic scale used for SWR)

�J- ,./
..... .._ _ ,, � _ _ _ ..

/ ;,/ 3.0
\�<'>/ .Q
� 2.5 �


1 .5
c: __....
1 .0
Figure 5.1 3 Original sketches for a tail­ 1 00 1 05 110 115 1 20 1 25 1 30 1 35 140

mounted antenna from work carried out by Frequency (MHz)

E. H. Tooley in 1 944
Figure 5.1 5 Variation of SWR with frequency
for a VHF quarter-wave blade antenna (note
the linear scale used for SWR)
and is now invariably used to house the HF
1 6.0
antenna and its associated coupling unit on most
large transport aircraft-see Figures 5 . 1 1 and
� 8.0
5 . 1 2. ""0
Due to the restriction in available space (which

mitigates against the use of a resonant antenna
such as a quarter-wave Marconi antenna-see

page 24) the HF antenna is based on a notch c: /
tJl ......._
.. /
1 .0
which uses part of the airframe in order to radiate
3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27
effectively. The notch itself has a very high-Q
factor and its resistance and reactance varies very
widely over the operating frequency range (i.e. Frequency (MHz)
3 MHz to 24 MHz). The typical variation of
Figure 5. 1 6 Variation of SWR with frequency
standing wave ratio (SWR-see page 33)
against frequency for an HF notch antenna is
for an HF notch antenna fitted with an
shown in Figure 5 . 1 4. For comparison, the
antenna coupling/tuning unit
variation of SWR with frequency for a typical
quarter-wave VHF blade antenna is shown in
Figure 5 . 1 5 . conventional 50 n feeder/transmitter at most
From Figures 5. 1 4 and 5 . 1 5 it should be other HF frequencies. Because of this, and
obvious that the HF antenna, whilst well matched because the notch antenna is usually voltage fed,
at 2 1 MHz, would be severely mismatched to a it is necessary to use an HF coupling/tuning unit

---- -------
HF communications 83

HF notch
H F radio SWR detector
50 ohm

Control logic. connection
servo motor and to airframe
relay drivers
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ J

Figure 5. 1 7 Typical feedback control system used in an HF antenna coupler

between the HF radio feeder and the notch

antenna. This urtit is mounted in close proximity
to the antenna, usually close to the top of the
vertical stabiliser (see Figure 5 . 1 2). Figure 5 . 1 6
shows the effect of using a coupling/tuning unit
on the SWR-frequency characteristic of the same
notch antenna that was used in Figure 5 . 1 4. Note
how the SWR has been reduced to less than 2 : 1
for most (if not all) o f the H F range.
The tuning adjustment of I-IF antenna coupler
is entirely automatic and only requires a brief
signal from the transmitter to retune to a new HF
frequency. The HF antenna coupler unjt Figure 5. 1 8 I nterior view of an HF antenna
incorporates an SWR bridge (see page 3 5 ) and a coupler showing the roller coaster ind uctor
feedback control system (see Figure 5. 1 7) to
(top) and vacuum variable capacitor
adjust a roller coater inductor ( L l ) and high­ ( botto m ) . The h i g h-voltage a ntenna
voltage vacuum variable capacitor (C l ) together connector is shown in the extreme right
with a number of switched high-voltage
capacitors (C l to C4). The internal arrangement
of a typical HF antenna coupler is hown in
Figures 5. I 8 and 5 . 1 9. The connections required
between the HF antenna coupler, HF radio and
control unit are shown in Figure 5 .20.
Voltages present in the vicinity of the HF
antenna (as well as the field radiated by it) can be
extremely dangerous. It is therefore essential to
avoid contact with the antenna and to maintain a
safe working distance from it (at least 5 metres)
whenever the HF radio system is 'live ' .

Test your u nderstanding 5.3 Figu re 5.1 9 SWR bridge circuit incorporated
in the HF antenna coupler. The output from
Explain the function of an H F antenna coupler. the SWR bridge provides the error signal
What safety precautions need to be observed input to the automatic feedback control
when accessing this unit? system
84 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

HF radio
control unit

HF notch
Antenna antenna
coupling unit
(with PTT)
Flight crew
HF radio
Speaker or audio selector
headphones Audio RF



Figure 5.20 Connections to the HF radio, control unit and antenna coupling u nit

6. How many alphanumeric characters are

transmitted in a SELCAL code?
1 . The typical bandwidth of an aircraft HF SSB (a) 4
signa� is: (b) 8
(a) 3 .4 kHz (c) 1 6.
(b) 7 kHz
(c) 25 kHz. 7. How many bits are used in an ICAO aircraft
2. The principal advantage of SSB over DSB (a) 1 6
AM is: (b) 24
(a) reduced bandwidth (c) 32.
(b) improved frequency respoL...e
(c) faster data rates can be supported. 8 . The typical R F output power from a n aircraft

3. HF data link uses typ · .::al data rates of:

HF transmitter is:
(a) 25 W pep
(a) 300 bps and 600 bps (b) 50 W pep
(b) 2400 bps and 4800 bps (c) 400 W pep.
(c) 2400 bps and 3 1 ,500 bps.
9. An HF radio is required for use on oceanic
4. The standard for HF data link is defined in: routes because:
(a) ARINC 429 (a) VHF coverage is inadequate
(b) ARINC 573 (b) higher power levels can be produced
(c) ARINC 63 5 . (c) HF radio is more reliable.

5 . Which one of the following gives the 1 0. The function of an HF antenna coupler is to:
approximate range of audio frequencies used (a) reduce static noise and interference
for SELCAL tones? (b) increase the transmitter output power
(a) 256 Hz to 2048 Hz (c) match the antenna to the radio.
(b) 3 1 2 Hz to 1 479 Hz
(c) 300 Hz to 3400 Hz.
Chapter F l i g ht-d eck a u d i o syste ms

As well as systems for communication with the means for them to receive, key and transmit
ground stations, modem passenger aircraft using the various aircraft radio systems. The
require a number of facilities for local flight interphone system also extends
communication within the aircraft. In addition, communication to ground personnel at the nose
there is a need for communications with those gear interphone station and allows flight
who work on the aircraft when it is being serviced compartment crew members to communicate and
on the ground. to make passenger address announcements. The
Systems used for local communications need to flight interphone system also incorporates
consist of nothing more than audio signals, amplifiers and mixing circuits in the audio
suitably amplified, switched and routed, and accessory unit, audio selector panels, cockpit
incorporating a means of alerting appropriate speakers, microphone/headphone j acks and press­
members of the crew and other personnel. to-talk (PIT) switches.
These flight-deck audio systems include: In addition to the audio systems used for
normal operation of the aircraft, large commercial
• passenger address (PA) system
aircraft are also required to carry a cockpit voice
• service interphone system recorder (CVR). This device captures and stores
• cabin interphone system information derived from a number of the
• ground crew call system aircraft's audio channels. Such information may
• flight interphone system. later become invaluable in the event of a crash or
The passenger address system provides the malfunction.
flight - crew and cabin crew with a means of
making announcements and distributing music to
passengers through cabin speakers. Circuits in the
system send chime signals to the cabin speakers.
The service interphone system provides the The flight interphone system provides the
crew and ground staff with interior and exterior essential connecting link between the aircraft's
communication capability. Circuits in the system communication systems, navigation receivers and
connect service interphone j acks to the flight flight-deck crew members. The flight interphone
compartment. system also extends communication to ground
The cabin interphone system provides personnel at external stations (e.g. the nose gear
facilities for communication among cabin interphone station). It also provides the means
attendants, and between the flight compartment by which members of the flight crew can
crew members and attendants. The system can be communicate with the cabin crew and also make
switched to the input of the passenger address passenger address announcements. The flight
system for P A announcements. interphone system comprises a number of sub­
The ground crew eaU system provides a systems including amplifiers and mixing circuits
signalling capability (through the ground crew in the audio accessory unit, audio selector panels,
call horn) between the flight compartment and cockpit speakers, microphone!headphone j acks
nose landing gear area. and press-to-talk (PTT) switches.
The flight interphone system provides The flight interphone components provided for
facilities for interphone communication among the captain and first officer usually comprise the
flight compartment crew members and provides following components:
86 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Ca plain's First officer's

speaker speaker
Captain and First officer's

Captain's cockpit

first officer's cockpit
speaker unit
I+- audio selector I-- interphone
panels speaker unit

Left VHF radio

1-- r-
Right VHF radio
communications communications

Left HF radio 14" Right HF radio

- - - · ACARS
_I SELCAL unit I communications

"I I

Navigation Centre VHF radio

systems communicati�ns

interphone jacks
Cockpit voice Electronic

recorder (CVR) chimes

Cabin crew
accessory unit and
interphone amplifier
Pilot's call
Ground crew
call system
--QJ Horn

address (PA)
--+{1] Cabin, toilet and cabin
crew speakers

Figure 6.1 Simplified block schematic d iagram of a typical flight interphone system

• audio selector panel · Note that, where a third (or fourth) seat is
• headset, headphone, and hand microphone provided on the flight deck, a third (or fourth) set
j ack connectors of flight interphone components will usually be
• audio selector panel and control wheel press­ available for the observer(s) to use. In common
to-talk (PTT) switches with other communication systems fitted to the
• cockpit speakers. aircraft, the flight interphone system normally
Flight-deck audio systems 87

derives its power from the aircraft's 28 V DC

battery bus through circuit breakers on the
overhead panel.
The simplified block schematic diagram of a
typical flight interphone system is shown in
Figure 6. 1 . Key subsystem components are the
captain and first officer's audio selector panels
and the audio accessory unit that provides a link
from the flight deck audio system to the
passenger address, cabin and service interphones,
and ground crew call systems. It is also worth
noting from Figure 6. 1 that the audio signals
(inputs and outputs) from the HF and VHF radio
communications equipment as well as the audio
signals derived from the navigation receivers
(outputs only) are also routed via the audio
selector panels. This arrangement provides a high
degree of configuration flexibility together with a
degree of redundancy sufficient to cope with
failure of individual subsystem components.
Figure 6.2 First officer's audio selector
Finally, it should be emphasised that the
panel (top) and radio panel (bottom ) fitted in
arrangement depicted in Figure 6. 1 is typical and
the overhead panel of an A320 aircraft
that minor variations can and do exist. For
example, most modem aircraft incorporate
SATCOM facilities (not shown in Figure 6. 1 ).
The flight interphone amplifier is usually
located in the audio accessory unit in the main
avionic equipment rack). The amplifier receives
low-level microphone inputs and provides audio
to all flight interphone stations. The amplifier has
preset internal adjustments for compression,
squelch and volume.
Audio selector panels are located in the flight
compartment within easy of reach of the crew
members. Audio selector panels are provided for
the captain and fust officer as well as any
observers that may be present on the flight deck.
Depending on aircraft type and flight deck Figure 6.3 Captain's audio selector ( 1 ) and
configuration, audio selector panels may be fitted first officer's audio selector (2) fitted in the
in the central pedestal console or in the overhead central console of a Boeing 757 aircraft
panels. Typical examples of cockpit audio
selector panel layouts are shown in Figures 6.2 Two cockpit speaker units are usual ly fitted in
and 6.3. Each audio selector panel contains the flight compartment. These are usually located
microphone selector switches which connect in the sidewall panels adjacent to the captain 's
microphone circuits to the interphone systems, to and fust officer's stations. Each cockpit speaker
the radio communication systems, or to the unit contains a loudspeaker, amplifier, muting
passenger address system. The push-to-talk (PIT) circuits, and a volume control. The speakers
switch on the audio selector panels can be used to receive all audio signal:; provided to the audio
key the flight compartment microphones. selector panels. The speakers are muted whenever
Volume control is provided by switches on each a PTT switch is pushed at the captain 's or first
audio selector panel. officer's station.
88 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Captain's control wheel

Captain's headset

Noise reduction
� ®Boom micropho e

l L

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� I
Captain's oxygen Hand microphone
mask Oxygen mask t
rOOJ m [�HiJJ m m f@J
HFNHF radio
HFNHF radio

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communications communications
equipment, equipment,
interphone audio,
t2l � m
navigation and

interphone audio PA and CVR

Captain's audio selector panel

Figure 6.4 Typical arrangement for the captain's audio selector. A similar arrangement is
used for the first officer's audio selector as well as any supernumerary crew members that may
be present on the flight deck

Several jack panels are provided for a headset emergency use). Outputs can be selected for use
with integral boom microphone for the captain, with the headset or cockpit loudspeakers.
first officer and observer. Hand microphones Amplifiers, summing networks, and filters in
may also be used. Push-to-talk (PTT) switches the audio selector panel provide audio signals
are located at all flight interphone stations. The from the interphone and radio communication
hand microphone, control wheel, and audio systems to the headphones and speakers. Audio
selector panels all have PTT switches. The switch signals from the navigation receivers are also
must be pushed before messages are begun or no monitored through the headphones and speakers.
transmission can take place. Audio and control Reception of all audio signals is controlled by the
circuits to the audio selector panel are completed volume switches. The captain 's INT microphone
when the PTT switch is operated. switch is illuminated when active. Note that this
The flight interphone system provides common switch is interlocked with the other microphone
microphone circuits for the communications switches so that only one at a time can be pushed.
systems and common headphone and speaker The navigation system's (ADF, VOR, ILS,
circuits for the communications and navigation etc.) audio is also controlled by switches on the
systems. audio selector panel. The left, centre, or right (L,
Figure 6.4 shows a typical arrangement for the C, R) switches control selection and volume of
captain's audio selector panel (note that the flight the desired receiver. The VOICE-BOTH-RANGE
interphone components and operation are switch acts as a filter that separates voice signals
identical for both the captain and first officer). and range signals. The filter switch can also
Similar (though not necessarily identical) systems combine both voice and range signals. All radio
are available for use by the observer and any communication, interphone, and navigation
other supernumerary crew members (one obvious outputs are received and recorded by the cockpit
difference is the absence of a s;ontrol wheel push­ voice recorder (CVR).
to-talk switch and cockpit speaker). Switches are A typical procedure for checking that the
provided to select boom microphone, hand microphone audio is routed to the radio
microphone (where available) as well as communication, interphone, or passenger address
microphones located in the oxygen masks (for system is as follows:

Figure 6.5 First officer's loudspeaker

(centre) in a Boeing 757 aircraft (the volume
control is mounted in the centre of the
loudspeaker panel)

F igure 6.7 First officer's headset and boom

microphone in an A320 aircraft

Fig u re 6.6 Capta in's headset and boom

microphone in a Boeing 757 aircraft. The
press-to-talk (PTT) switch can be seen on
the left-hand section of the control wheel

I . Push the microphone select switch on the F igure 6.8 Headsets and boom microphones
audio selector panel to select the required in a four-seat rotorcraft
communication system.
2. If a handheld microphone is used, pu h the
PTT witch on the microphone and talk.
3 . If a boom microphone or oxygen mask
I . For communications systems, adj ust the
volume control switch on the audio elector
microphone is used, select MASK or BOOM
panel and listen to the headset.
with the toggle switch on the audio selector
2. For navigation systems audio, select desired
panel and push the audio selector panel or
left-centre-right ( L-C-R) and filter (VOlCE­
control wheel PTT switch and talk.
BOTH-RANG E) positions on the audio
The following procedure is used to listen to selector panel, adjust volume control switch
navigation and communication systems audio: and listen to headset.
90 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

�c - ... ��
. -
-�· � =
. ..

Figure 6.9 Ground staff i nterphone jack


3. The captain's and fust officer's cockpit

speakers (see Figure 6.5) can be used to listen
to navigation as well as communication
system audio. A control in the centre of the
cockpit speaker (Boeing aircraft) or on an Figu re 6 . 1 0 Cabin interphone/passenger
adjacent panel (Airbus) adj usts the speaker add ress handset
volume to the desired level.
4. External interphone panels (as appropriate to
the aircraft type-see Figures 6.9 and 6. 1 0)
should be similarly tested by connecting a 6.2 Cockpit voice recorder
headset or handset (as appropriate) to each
interphone jack. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) can provide
valuable information that can later be analysed in
Figures 6.5 to 6. 1 0 show examples of some the event of an accident or serious malfunction of
typical flight deck audio communications the aircraft or any of its systems. The voice
equipment used on modem passenger aircraft. recorder preserves a continuing record of
typically between 30 and 1 20 minutes of the most
recent flight crew communications and
Test your understanding 6.1 conversations.
The torage medium used with the CVR fitted
Explain the d ifferences between ( a ) t h e flight to modem aircraft is usually based on one or
interphone and (b) the cabin interphone systems. more solid state memory devices whereas on
older aircraft the CVR is usually based on a
continuous loop of magnetic tape.
The CVR storage unit must be recoverable in
the event of an accident. This means that the
Test your understanding 6.2
entire recorder unit including storage media must
1 . Explain the function of the audio selector be mounted in an enclosure that can withstand
panels used by members of the flight crew. severe mechanical and thermal shock as well as
the high pressure that exists when a body is
2. List THREE d ifferent examples of inputs to an immersed at depth in water.
audio selector panel and THREE different The CVR is usually fitted with a test switch,
examples of outputs from an audio selector panel. headphone j ack, status light (green) and an
externally mounted underwater locator beacon
Flight-deck audio systems 91

(ULB) to facilitate undersea recovery. The ULB

is a self-contained device (invariably attached to
the front panel of the CVR) that emits an
ultrasonic vibration (typically at 37.5 kHz) when
the water-activated switch is activated as a result
of immersion in either sea water or fresh water. A
label on the ULB indicates the date by which the
internal battery should be replaced. A typical
specification for a ULB is shown in Table 6. 1 . An
external view of a CVR showing its externally
mounted ULB is shown in Figure 6. 1 1 .
The audio input to the CVR is derived from the
captain, first officer, observer (where present) and
also from an area microphone in the flight
compartment which is usually mounted in the Figure 6. 1 1 Cockpit voice recorder fitted with
overhead panel and thus collects audio input from an underwater locator beacon (ULB)
the entire flight-deck area.
In order to improve visibility and aid recovery,
the external housing of the CVR is painted bright Table 6.1 Typical ULB specification
orange. The unit is thermally insulated and
hermetically sealed to prevent the ingress of
Parameter Specification
water. Because of the crucial nature of the data
preserved by the flight, the unit should only be Operating frequency 37.5 kHz (± l k.Hz)
opened by authorised personnel following initial
Acoustic output 1 60 dB relative to I J.IPa at I m
recovery from the aircraft.
Magnetic CVR use a multi-track tape transport Pulse repetition rate 0.9 pulses per sec

mechanism. This normally comprises a tape Pulse duration I 0 ms

drive, four recording heads, a single (full-width) Activation Immersion in either salt water or
erase head, a monitor head and a bulk erase coil. fresh water
The bias generator usually operates at around [ntemal lithium battery
Power source
65 kHz and an internal signal (at around 600 Hz)
is often provided for test purposes. Bulk erase can Batte.ry life 6 years standby (shelf-life)

be performed by means of an erase switch (which Beacon operating life 30 days

is interlocked so that bulk tape erasure can only Operating depth 20,000 ft (6,096 m)
be performed when the aircraft is on the ground
Housing material Aluminium
and the parking brake is set). The erase current
source is usually derived directly from the Length 3.92 m (9.95 cm)
aircraft's 1 1 5 V AC 400 Hz supply. The magnetic Diameter 1 .3 in ( 3 .3 cm)
tape (a continuous loop) is usually 308 ft in
length and 14 in wide.
Weight 6.7 oz ( 1 90 g)

More modem solid-state recording media uses

no moving parts (there is no need for a drive
mechanism) and is therefore much more reliable. Test your understanding 6.3
Erasure can be performed electronically and there
is no need for a separate erase coil and AC 1 . Explain t h e function a n d principle o f operation
supply. Finally, it is important to note that the of the underwater locator beacon (ULB) fitted to a
CVR is usually mounted in the aft passenger cockpit voice recorder (CVR).
cabin ceiling. This location offers the greatest
amount of protection for the unit in the event of a 2. Explain why the CVR is located in the ceiling of
the aft passenger cabin.
92 Aircraft communications and navigation system s

6.3 Multiple choi�e questions 9. A ULB is activated:

(a) automatically when immersed in water
1 . Audio selector panels are located: (b) manually when initiated by a crew
(a) in the main avionic equipment bay member
(b) close to the pilot and first officer stations (c) when the unit is subj ected to a high impact
(c) in the passenger cabin for use by cabin mechanical shock.
crew members.
1 0. The CVR flight deck area microphone is
2. When are the flight-deck speaker units muted? usually mounted:
(a) when a PTT switch is operated (a) on the overhead panel
(b) when a headset is connected (b) on the left-side flight deck floor
(c) when a navigation signal is received (c) immediately behind the jump seat.

3. Input to the captain's interphone speaker unit 1 1 . The typical pulse rate for a ULB is:
is derived from: (a) 0.9 pulses per sec
(a) the audio selector panel (b) 10 pulses per sec
(b) the passenger address system (c) 60 pulses per sec.
(c) the audio accessory unit and interphone
amplifier. 1 2 . The CVR is usually located:
(a) on the flight deck
4. The microphone PTT system is interlocked in (b) in the avionic equipment bay
order to prevent: (c) in the ceiling of the aft passenger cabin.
(a) unwanted acoustic feedback
(b) more than one switch being operated 1 3 . What colour is used for the external housing
at any time of a CVR?
(c) loss of signal due to parallel connection of (a) red
microphones. (b) green
(c) orange.
5. Bulk erasure of the magnetic tape media used
in a CVR is usually carried out: 1 4. A ULB usually comprises:
(a) /mmediately after take-off (a) a separate externally fitted canister
(bJ as soon as the aircraft has touched down (b) an internally fitted printed circuit module
(c) on the ground with the parking brake set. (c) an external module that derives its power
from the CVR.
6. The typical bias frequency used in a magnetic
CVR is: 1 5 . A ULB will operate:
(a) 3 .4 kHz (a) only in salt water
(b) 20 kHz (b) only in fresh water
(c) 65 kHz. (c) in either salt water or fresh water.

7. The typical frequency emitted by a ULB is: 1 6. The typical shelf-life of the battery fitted to a
(a) 600 Hz ULB is:
(b) 3 .4 kHz (a) six months
(c) 37.5 k:Hz. (b) 1 8 months
(c) six years.
8. Which one of the following is a suitable audio
tone frequency for testing a CVR?
(a) 60 Hi
(b) 600 Hz
(c) 6 kHz.
E m e rg e n cy l ocato r tra n sm itte rs

The detection and location of an aircraft crash is significantly higher power (5 W instead of the
vitally important to the search and rescue (SAR) 1 50 mW commonly used at VHF). Unlike the
teams and to potential survivors. Studies show simple amplitude modulation used with their
that while the initial survivors of an aircraft crash VHF counterparts, 460 MHz ELT transmit
have less than a 1 0% chance of survival if rescue digitally encoded data which incorporates a code
is delayed beyond two days, the survival rate is that is unique to the aircraft that carries them.
increased to over 60% if the rescue can be Provided they have been properly maintained,
accomplished within eight hours. For this reason, most ELT are capable of continuous operation
emergency locator transmitters (ELT) are for up to 50 hours. It is important to note that
required for most general aviation aircraft. ELT ELT performance (and, in particular, the
are designed to emit signals on the VHF and UHF operational range and period for which the signal
bands thereby helping search crews locate aircraft is maintained) may become seriously impaired
and facilitating the timely rescue of survivors. when the batteries are out of date. For this
This chapter provides a general introduction to reason, routine maintenance checks are essential
the types and operating principles of E LT fitted to and any ELT which contains outdated batteries
modern passenger aircraft. should be considered unserviceable.
The different types of ELT are summarised in
Table 7 . I . These are distinguished by application
and by the means of activation. Modem
passenger aircraft may carry several different
Several different types of ELT are in current use. types of ELT. Figure 7 . 1 shows a typical example
These include the older (and simpler) units that of the Type-W (water activated) survival ELT
produce a modulated RF carrier on one or both of carried on a modern transport aircraft.
the two spot VHF frequencies used for distress Most ELT in general aviation aircraft are of
beacons ( 1 2 1 .5 MHz and its second harmonic the automatic type. Fixed automatic units contain
243.0 MHz). Note that the former frequency is a crash activation sensor, or G-switch, which is
specified for civil aviation use whilst the latter is designed to detect the deceleration characteristics
sometimes referred to as the military aviation of a crash and automatically activate the
distress frequency. Simultaneous transmission on transmitter.
the two frequencies ( 1 2 1 .5 MHz and 243 .0 MHz) With current Sarsat and Cospas satellites now
is easily possible and only requires a frequency in orbit, ELT signals will usually be detected,
doubler and dual-band output stage. within 90 minutes, and the appropriate search and
Simple VHF ELT devices generate an RF rescue (SAR) agencies alerted Military aircrew
carrier that is modulated by a distinctive siren­ monitor 1 2 1 .5 MHz or 243.0 MHz and they will
like sound. This sweeps downwards at a also notify ATS or SAR agencies of any ELT
repetition rate of typically between 2 and 4 Hz. transmissions they hear.
This signal can be readily detected by Sarsat and It is worth noting that the detection ranges for
Cospas satellites (see later), or by any aircraft Type-W and Type-S ELT can be improved if the
monitoring 1 2 1 .5 MHz or 243.0 MHz. ELT is placed upright, with the antenna vertical,
More modern ELT operate on a spot UHF on the highest nearby point with any accessible
frequency (460.025 MHz). These devices are metal surface acting as a ground plane. Doubling
much more sophisticated and also operate at a the height will increase the range by about 40%.
94 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Table 7.1 Types of ELT

Type Class Description

A or AD Automatic ejectable or This type of ELT automatically ejects from the aircraft and is set in
automatic deployable operation by inertia sensors when the aircraft is subjected to a
crash deceleration force acting through the aircraft's flight axis.
This type is expensive and is seldom used in general aviation.
F or AF Fixed (non-ejectable) This type of ELT is fixed to the aircraft and is automatically set in
or automatic fixed operation by an inertia switch when the aircraft is subjected to
crash deceleration forces acting in the aircraft's flight axis. The
transmitter can be manually activated or deactivated and in some
cases may be remotely controlled from the cockpit. Provision may
also be made for recharging the ELT's batteries from the aircraft's
electrical supply. Most general aviation aircraft use this ELT type,
which must have the function switch placed to the ARM position
for the unit to function automatically in a crash (see Figure 7 .5).

AP Automatic portable This type of ELT is similar to Type-F or AF except that the
antenna is integral to the unit for portable operation.
p Personnel activated This type of ELT has no fixed mounting and does not transmit
automatically. Instead, a switch must be manually operated in
order to activate or deactivate the ELT's transmitter.
W or S Water activated or This type of ELT transmits automatically when immersed in water
Survival (see Figure 7 . I ). It is waterproof, floats and operates on the surface
of the water. It has no fixed mounting and should be tethered to
survivors or life rafts by means of the supplied cord.

testing an ELT. Two-station air testing (in

conjunction with a nearby ground station) is
ELT should be regularly inspected in accordance usually preferred because, due to the proximity of
with the manufacturer's recommendations. The the transmitting and receiving antennae, a test
ELT should be checked to ensure that it is secure, carried out with the aircraft' s own VHF receiver
free of external corrosion, and that antenna may not reveal a fault condition in which the
connections are secure. It is also important to ELT's RF output has become reduced.
ensure that the ELT batteries have not reached To avoid unnecessary SAR missions, all
their expiry date (refer to external label) and that accidental ELT activations should be reported to
only approved battery types are fitted. the appropriate authorities (e.g. the nearest rescue
Air testing normally involved first listening on coordination centre) giving the location of the
the beacon's output frequency (e.g. 1 2 1 .5 MHz), transmitter, and the time and duration of the
checking first that the ELT is not transmitting accidental transmission. Promptly notifying the
before activating the unit and then checking the appropriate authorities of an acci�ental E LT
radiated signal. Simple air tests between an transmission can be instrumental in preventing
aircraft and a ground station (or between two the launch of a search aircraft. Any testing of an
aircraft) can sometimes be sufficient to ensure ELT must be conducted only during the first five
that an ELT is functional; however, it is important minutes of any UTC hour and restricted m
to follow manufacturer's instructions when duration to not more than five seconds.
Emergency locator transmitters 95

Figure 7.3 ELT transmitter and modulator

printed circuit board (the crystal oscillator is
located on the right with the dual-frequency
output stages on the left)

Figure 7.1 Type-W ELT with attachment

cord secured by water-soluble tape (the
antenna has been removed)

Figure 7.4 ELT test switch and test light

(the antenna base connector is in the centre
of the unit)

7.3 ELT mounting requirements

In order to safeguard the equipment and to ensure

that it is available for operation should the need
arise, various considerations should be observed
when placing and mounting an ELT and its
associated antenna system in an aircraft. The
following requirements apply to Type-F, AF, AP
ELT installations in fixed wing aircraft and
l . When installed in a fixed wing aircraft, ELT
should be mounted with its sensitive axis
Figure 7.2 Interior view of the ELT shown in pointing in the direction of flight
Figure 7. 1 . Note how the battery occupies 2. When installed in a rotorcraft ELT should be
approximately 50% of the internal volume mounted with its sensitive axis pointing
96 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

approximately 45° downward from the

normal forward direction of flight
3. ELT should be installed to withstand
ultimate inertia forces of 1 0 g upward,
22.5 g downward, 45 g forward and 7.5 g
4. The location chosen for the ELT should be
sufficiently free from vibration to prevent
involuntary activation of the transmitter
5. ELT should be located and mounted so as to
minimise the probability of damage to the
transmitter and antenna by fire or crushing
as a result of a crash impact
6. ELT should be accessible for manual
Figure 7.5 Type-AF ELT control panel ( note activation and deactivation. If it is equipped
the three switch positions marked ON, with an antenna for portable operation, the
ARMED and TEST/RESET) ELT should be easily detachable from inside
the aircraft
7. The external surface of the aircraft should be
Test your understanding 7.1 marked to indicate the location of the ELT
8. Where an ELT has provision for remote
Distinguish between the following types of ELT: operation it is important to ensure that
(a ) Type-F . (b) Type-AF, and (c) Type-W. appropriate notices are displayed.
The antenna used by a fixed type of ELT should
conform to the following:
Table 7.2 Typical Type-AF ELT specification
I . ELT should not use the antenna of another
avionics system
Parameter Specification 2. ELT antenna should be mounted as far away
as possible from other very high frequency
Operating frequencies l 2 1 .5 MHz, 243 MHz and 406.025
M Hz (VHF) antennas
3. The distance between the transmitter and
Frequency tolerance ±0.005% ( 1 2 l .5 MHz and
antenna should be in accordance with the
243 MHz); ±2 kHz (406.025 MHz)
ELT manufacturer's installation instructions
RF output power 250 m W typical ( 1 2 1 .5 MHz and or other approved data
243 MHz); 5 W ±2 dB (406.025
4. The position of the antenna should be such
as to ensure essentially omnidirectional .
Pulse duration I 0 ms
radiation characteristics when the aircraft is
Activation G-switcb in its normal ground or water attitude
Power source lnternal lithium battery 5. The antenna should be mounted as far aft as
Battery life 5 years ( including effects of monthly
operationa I checks)
6. ELT antenna should not foul or make
contact with any other antennas in flight.
Beacon operating life 50 hours
The following considerations apply to Type-W
Digital message Every 50 s
repetition period and Type-S ELT:
(406.025 MHz only)
1 . ELT should be installed as specified for
Modulation AM ( 1 2 1 .5 MHz and Type-F but with a means of quick release,
243 MHz); phase modulation
and located as near to an exit as practicable
(406.025 MHz)
without being an obstruction or hazard to
Housing material Aluminium alloy aircraft occupants
Eme rge ncy locator transmitters 97

2. Where the appropriate regulations require the 243 MHz, and 406.025 MHz. The ELT uses
carriage of a single ELT of Type-W or amplitude modulation (AM) on the two VHF
Type-S, the ELT should be readily accessible frequencies ( 1 2 1 .5 MHz and 243 MHz) and phase
to passengers and crew modulation (PM) on the UHF frequency
3. Where the appropriate regulations require the (406.025 MHz). The AM modulating signal
carriage of a second Type-W or Type-S ELT, consists of an audio tone that sweeps downwards
that ELT should be either located near a life from 1 .5 kHz to 500 Hz with three sweeps every
raft pack, or attached to a life raft in such a second. The modulation depth is greater than
way that it will be available or retrievable 8 5%.
when the raft is inflated The block schematic diagram for a simple
4. An ELT fitted with a lithium or magnesium Type-W ELT is shown in Figure 7.6. The supply
battery must not be packed inside a life raft in is connected by means of a water switch (not
an aircraft. shown in Figure 7.6). The unit shown in Figure
7.6 only provides outputs at VHF ( 1 2 1 .5 MHz
and 243 MHz). These two frequ�ncies are
harmonically related which makes it possible to
generate the 243 MHz signal using a frequency
Figures 7 . 1 to 7.4 show the external and internal doubler stage.
construction of a basic Type-W ELT. The unit is
hermetically sealed at each end in order to
prevent the ingress of water. The procedure for Test your understanding 7.2
disassembling the ELT usually involves
withdrawing the unit from one end of the 1 . State THREE requirements that must be
cylindrical enclosure. When reassembling an ELT observed when an ELT is mounted in an
care must be taken to reinstate the hermetic seals aircraft.
at each end of the enclosure. 2. Describe two methods of activating an ELT.
The specification for a modern Type-AF ELT
3. What precautions must be taken when an ELT
is shown in Table 7.2. This unit provides outputs
is tested?
on all three ELT beacon frequencies; 1 2 1 .5 MHz,

� 1 2 1 .5 MHz
1 2 1 . 5 MHz 1 2 1 . 5 MHz
1 2 1 . 5 MHz
overtone r-- amplifier driver stage output stage

Swept audio
oscillator r-- Modulator lJ Antenna

-+-- -- -- -+--
Frequency 243 MHz 243 MHz
doubler driver stage output stage

Figure 7.6 Block schematic d iagram for a Type-W ELT

98 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

There are two Cospas-Sarsat systems. One

operates at 1 2 1 .5 MHz (VHF) whilst the other
operates at 406 MHz (UHF). The Cospas-Sarsat
1 2 1 .5 MHz system uses low earth orbit (LEO)
Cospas-Sarsat is a satellite system designed to
supply alert and location information to assist
search and rescue operations. The Russian Cospas polar-orbiting satellites together with associated
stands for 'space system for the search of vessels ground receiving stations. The basic system is
in distress' whilst Sarsat stands for 'search and shown in Figure 7.7.
rescue satellite-aided tracking ' . The signals produced by ELT beacons are
The system uses satellites and ground stations received and relayed by Cospas-Sarsat LEO-SAR
to detect and locate signals from ELT operating at satellites to Cospas-Sarsat LUTs that process the
frequencies of 1 2 1 .5 MHz, 243 MHz and/or 406 signals to determine the location of the ELT. The
MHz. The system provides worldwide support to computed position of the ELT transmitter is
organizations responsible for air, sea or ground relayed via an MCC to the appropriate RCC or
SAR operations. search and rescue point of contact (SPOC).
The basic configuration of the Cospas-Sarsat The Cospas-Sarsat system uses Doppler
system features: location techniques (using the relative motion
between the satellite and the distress beacon) to
• ELT that transmit VHF and/or UHF signals in accurately locate the ELT. The carrier frequency
case of emergency transmitted by the ELT is reasonably stable
• Instruments on board geostationary and low­ during the period of mutual beacon-satellite
orbiting satellites detecting signals transmitted visibility. Doppler performance is enhanced due
by the ELT to the low-altitude near-polar orbit used by the
• Local user terminals (LUT), which receive Cospas-Sarsat satellites. However, despite this it
and process signals transmitted via the is important to note that the location accuracy of
satellite downlink to generate distress alerts the 1 2 1 .5 MHz system is not as good as the
• Mission control centres (MCC) which accuracy that can be achieved with the
receive alerts from LUTs and send them to a 406 MHz system. The low altitude orbit also
Rescue coordination centre (RCC) makes it possible for the system to operate with
• Se;trch and rescue (SAR) units. very low tiplink power levels.


Rescue Cospas-Sarsat Cospas-Sarsat local user terminal

coordination centre mission control centre ground staUon
Aicraft in distress

Figure 7.7 The Cospas-Sarsat system in operation

Emergency locator transmitters 99

Earth's rotation
Earth's rotation

Polar axis Polar axis

Figure 7.8 Polar orbit for a low altitude Figure 7.9 The constellation of four LEO­
earth orbit (LEO) search and rescue (SAR) SAR satellites

A near polar orbit could provide full global pass which provides tor a mtrumum of four
coverage but 1 2 1 .5 MHz can only be produced if minutes, simultaneous visibility of an ELT and an
the uplink signals from the ELT are actually LUT. This additional constraint may increase the
received by an LUT. This constraint of the waiting time to several hours if the transmitting
1 2 1 .5 MHz system limits the useful coverage to a beacon is at the edge of the LUT coverage area.
geographic area of about 3 ,000 km radius around The Doppler location provides two positions for
each LUT. In this region, the satellite can 'see' each beacon: the true position and its mirror
both the ELT and the LUT. image relative to the satellite ground track. In the
Figure 7.8 shows the polar orbit of a single case of 1 2 1 .5 MHz beacons, a second pass is
satellite. The path (or 'orbital plane ') of the usually required to resolve the ambiguity.
satellite remains fixed, while the earth rotates Sarsat satellites are also equipped with 243
underneath. At most, it takes only one half MHz repeaters which allow the detection and
rotation of the earth (i.e. 1 2 hours) for any location of 243 MHz distress beacons. The
location to pass under the orbital plane. With a operation of the 243 MHz system is identical to
second satellite, having an orbital plane at right the 1 2 1 .5 MHz system except for the smaller
angles to the first, only one quarter of a rotation is number of satellites available.
required, or six hours maximum. Similarly, as The Cospas-Sarsat 406 MHz System is much
more satellites orbit the earth in different planes, more sophisticated and involves both orbiting and
the waiting time is further reduced. geostationary satellites. The use of 406 MHz
The complete Cospas-Sarsat system uses beacons with digitally encoded data allows
four satellites as shown in Figure 7.9. The system unique beacon identification.
provides a typical waiting time of less than one In order to provide poslttve aircraft
hour at mid-latitudes. However, users of the identification, it is essential that 406 MHz ELT
1 2 1 .5 MHz system have to wait for a satellite are registered in a recognised ELT database
1 00 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

accessible to search and rescue authorities. The 6. If bubbles appear when an ELT is immersed
information held in the da�base includes data on in a tank of water, which one of the following
the ELT, its owner, and the aircraft on which the statements is correct?
ELT is mounted. This information can be (a) This is normal and can be ignored
invaluable in a search and rescue (SAR) (b) This condition indicates that the internal
operation. battery is overheating and producing gas
The unique coding of a UHF ELT is imbedded (c) The unit should be returned to the
in the final stage of manufacture using aircraft manufacturer.
data supplied by the owner or operator. The ELT
data is then registered with the relevant national 7. The air testing of an ELT can be carried out:
authorities. Once this has been done, the data is (a) at any place or time
entered into a database available for interrogation (b) only after notifying the relevant authorities
by SAR agencies worldwide. (c) only at set times using recommended

8. On which frequencies do ELT operate?

(!!.) 1 25 MHz and 250 MHz
1 . ELT transmissions use: (b) 1 22 . 5 MHz and 406.5 MHz
(a) Morse code and high-power RF at HF (c) 1 2 1 .5 MHz and 406.025 MHz
(b) pulses of acoustic waves at 37.5 kHz
(c) low-power RF at VHF or UHF. 9. A Type-W ELT is activated by:
(a) a member of the crew
2. A Type-P ELT derives its power from: (b) immersion in water
(a) aircraft batteries (c) a high G-force caused by deceleration.
(b) internal batteries
(c) a small hand-operated generator. 1 0. The location accuracy of a satellite-based
beacon locator system is:
3. Transmission from an ELT is usually initially (a) better on 1 2 1 .5 MHz than on 406 MHz
detected by: (b) better on 406 MHz than on 1 2 1 .5 MHz
(a) low-flying aircraft (c) the same on 1 2 1 .5 MHz as on 406 MHz.
(b) one or more ground stations
(c) a satellite. 1 1 . An ELT fitted with a lithium battery is:
(a) safe for packing in a life raft
4. The operational state of an ELT is tested (b) unsafe for packing in a life raft
using: (c) not suitable for use with a Type-F ELT.
(a) a test switch and indicator lamp
(b) immersion in a water tank for a short 1 2. A Type-W or Type-S ELT will work better
period when the antenna is:
(c) checking battery voltage and charging (a) held upright
current. (b) slanted downwards slightly
(c) carefully aligned with the horizontal.
5. A Type-W ELT needs checking. What is the
first stage in the procedure? 1 3 . The satellites used by the Cospas-Sarsat
(a) Inspect and perform a load test on the 1 2 1 .5 MHz system are:
battery (a) in high earth orbit
(b) Open the outer case and inspect the (b) in low earth orbit
hermetic seal (c) geostationary.
(c) Read the label on the ELT in order to
determine the unit's expiry date.
C hapter A i rcra ft naviga ti o n

Navigation is the science of conducting journeys is shaped more like an orange. For short
over land and/or sea. Whether the journey is to be distances, this is not significant; however, for
made across deserts or oceans, we need to know long-range (i.e. global) navigation we need to
the ultimate destination and how the journey's know some accurate facts about the earth. The
progress will be checked along the way. Finding a mathematical definition of a sphere is where the
position on the earth's surface and deciding on distance (radius) from the centre to the surface is
the direction of travel can be simply made by equidistant. This is not the case for the earth,
observations or by mathematical calculations. where the actual shape is referred to as an oblate
Aircraft navigation is no different, except that the spheroid.
speed of travel is much faster! Navigation
systems for aircraft have evolved with the nature 8. 1 . 1 Position
and role of the aircraft itself. Starting with visual
To define a unique two-dimensional position on
references and the basic compass, leading onto
the earth's surface, a coordinate system using
radio ground aids and self-contained systems,
imaginary lines of latitude and longitude are
many techniques and methods are employed.
drawn over the globe, see Figure 8. 1 . Lines of
Although the basic requirement of a navigation
longitude j oin the poles in great circles or
system is to guide the crew from point A to point
meridians. A great circle is defined as the
B, increased traffic density and airline economics
intersection of a sphere by a plane passing
means that more than one aircraft is planning a
through the centre of the sphere; this has a radius
specific route. Flight planning takes into account
measured from the centre to the surface of the
such things as favourable winds, popular
earth. These north-south lines are spaced around
destinations and schedules. Aircraft navigation is
the globe and measured in angular distance from
therefore also concerned with the management of
the zero (or prime) meridian, located in
traffic and safe separation of aircraft. This chapter
Greenwich, London. Longitude referenced to the
reviews some basic features of the earth's
prime-meridian extends east or west up to 1 80
geometry as it relates to navigation, and
degrees. Note that the distance between lines of
introduces some basic air'taft navigation
longitude converge at the poles. Latitude is the
terminology. The chapter concludes by reviewing
angular distance north or south of the equator; the
a range of navigation systems used on modem
poles are at latitude 90 degrees.
For accurate navigation, the degree (symbol o
transport and military aircraft (a full description
of these systems follows in subsequent chapters).
after the value, e.g. 90° north) is divided by 60
giving the unit of minutes (using the symbol '
after numbers), e.g. one half of a degree will be
30'. This can be further refmed into smaller units
Before looking at the technical aspects of by dividing again by 60 giving the unit of
navigation systems, we need to review some seconds (using the symbol " after numbers), e.g.
basic features of the earth and examine how these one half of a minute will be 30". A second of
features are employed for aircraft navigation latitude (or longitude at the equator) is
purposes. Although we might consider the earth approximately 3 1 metres, just over 1 00 feet.
to be a perfect sphere, this is not the case. There Defining a unique position on the earth' s surface,
is a flattening at both the poles such that the earth e.g. Land's End in Cornwall, UK, using latitude
1 02 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Longitude Latitude
Meridians (described by the angle they make, Parallels o f latitude (described by
measured east or west from the Greenwich, the angle they make, measured
or 'prime', meridian) north or south of the equator)

e, and Eh are angular 9J and e, are angular Equator

measurement, west or measurement. north or
east of the prime south of the equator

Greenwich meridian

Figure 8.1 Longitude and latitude

and longitude is written as:

Latitude N 50° 04' 1 3 " Longitude W 5° 42' 42"

8.1 .2 Direction
Direction to an observed point (bearing) can be
referenced to a known point on the earth's (a) Typical compass display
surface, e.g. magnetic north. Bearing is defined
as the angle between the vertical plane of the
reference point through to the vertical plane of the
observed point. Basic navigational information is
expressed in terms of compass points from zero
referenced to north through 360° in a clockwise
direction, see Figure 8 .2. For practical navigation
purposes, north has been taken from the natural
feature of the earth's magnetic field; however;
magnetic north is not at 90° latitude; the latter
defmes the position of true north. The location
of magnetic north is in the Canadian Arctic,
approximately 83° latitude and 1 1 5° longitude
west of the prime meridian, see Figure 8.3.
Magnetic north is a natural feature of the earth's
geology; it is slowly drifting across the Canadian
Arctic at approximately 40 km northwest per
year. Over a long period of time, magnetic north
describes an elliptical path. The Geological
Survey of Canada keeps track of this motion by {b) Compass indicator
periodically carrying out magnetic surveys to re­
determine the pole's location. In addition to this Figure 8.2 Com pass indications
Aircraft navigation 1 03

long-term change, the earth's magnetic field is

also affected on a random basis by the weather,
i.e. electrical storms.
Navigation charts based on magnetic north
have to be periodically updated to consider this
gradual drift. Compass-based systems are
referenced to magnetic north; since this is not at
90° latitude there is an angular difference
between magnetic and true north. This difference
will be zero if the aircraft ' s position happens to
be on the same longitude as magnetic north, and
maximum at longitudes ±90° either side of this
longitude. The angular difference between
magnetic north and true north is called magnetic
variation. It is vital that when bearings or
headings are used, we are clear on what these are
referenced to.
The imaginary lines of latitude and longitude
described above are curved when S!Jperimposed
on the earth's surface; they also appear as straight
lines when viewed from above. The shortest Figure 8.3 Location of magnetic north
distance between points A and B on a given route
is a straight line. When this route is examined, the

projection of the path (the track) flown by the
aircraft over the earth 's surface is described by a
great circle. eo is a � /

Flying in a straight line implies that we are constant
maintaining a constant heading, but this is not the angle and

results in
case. Since the lines of longitude converge,

flying at a
travelling at a constant angle at each meridian constant

yields a track that actually curves as i llustrated in

Figure 8.4. A track that intersects the lines of
longitude at a constant angle is referred to as a
rhumb line. Flying a rhumb line is readily
achieved by reference to a fixed point, e.g. (a) Local meridians and the rhumb line

magnetic north. The great circle route; however,

requires that the direction flown (with respect to
the meridians) changes at any given time, a role
more suited to a navigation computer. The shortest
distance between
A and B is
8.1 .3 Distance and speed defined by a
great circle
The standard unit of measurement for distance
used by most countries around the world (the
exceptions being the UK and USA) is the
kilometre (km). This quantity is linked directly to
the earth's geometry; the distance between the Rhumb line intersects each

poles and equator is I 0,000 km. The equatorial

meridian at the same angle

radius of the earth is 6378 km; the polar radius is (b) Great circle and the rhumb line

6359 km.
For aircraft navigation purposes, the quantity Figure 8.4 F lying a constant heading
1 04 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

of distance used is the nautical mile (nm). This

Key point
quantity is defined by distance represented by one
minute of arc of a great circle (assuming the earth Although we might consider the earth to be a
to be a perfect sphere). The nautical mile (unlike perfect sphere, this is not the case. The actual
the statute mile) is therefore directly linked to the shape of the earth is referred to as an oblate
geometry of the earth. Aircraft speed, i.e. the rate spheroid.
of change of distance with respect to time, is
given by the quantity 'knots ' ; nautical miles per
Calculating the great circle distance between
two positions defined by an angle is illustrated in Key point
Figure 8.5. The distance between two positions
Longitude referenced to the prime-meridian
defined by their respective latitudes and
extends east or west up to 1 80 degrees. Latitude
longitudes, (latl, lonl ) and (lat2, lon2), can be is the angular distance north or south of the
calculated from the formula: equator; the poles are at a latitude of 90 degrees.
d = cos- 1 (sin(latl) x sin(/at2) + cos(latl) x cos
(lat2) x cos(lonl-/on2))

Key point
Great circle
The nautical mile (unlike the statute mile) is
directly linked to the geometry of the earth. This
quantity is defined by distance represented by one
minute of arc of a great circle (assuming the earth
to be a perfect sphere).

Key point
Both latitude and longitude are angular quantities
measured in degrees. For accurate navigation,
degrees can be divided by 60 giving the unit of
'minutes'; this can be further divided by 60 giving
the unit of 'seconds'.

50° 30' = (50 x 60) + 30 3030' 3030 nm

= =

Figure 8.5 Calculation of great circle

distances 8.2 Dead reckoning

Estimating a position by extrapolating from a

Test your understanding 8.1 known position and then keeping note of the
direction, speed and elapsed time is known as
Explain each of the following terms: dead reckoning. An aircraft passing over a given
point on a heading of 90° at a speed of 300 knots
1. Latitude will be five miles due east of the given point after
2. Longitude one minute. If the aircraft is flying in zero wind
3. Great circle
conditions, this simple calculation holds true. In
4. Rhumb line.
realistic terms, the aircraft will almost certainly
Aircraft navigation 1 05

Track (aircraft"s path

be exposed to wind at some point during the over the earth"s surface)

_/ -s..::--
flight and this will affect the navigation ....
calculation. With our aircraft flying on a heading
of 90° at a speed of 300 knots, let's assume that
the wind is blowing from the south at I 0 knots, U>�----"------- Heading 090'
Speed 300 knots

see Figure 8.6. In a one hour time period, the air r-"?-'.,.--..,---
that the aircraft is flying in will have moved north
by ten nautical miles. This means that the
aircraft's path (referred to as its track) over the
earth's surface is not due east. In other words, the
aircraft track is not the same as the direction in
LI Direction 1 80'
Speed 1 0 knots
which the aircraft is heading. This leads to a
horizontal displacement (drift) of the aircraft Figure 8.6 Effect of crosswind
from the track it would have followed in zero
wind conditions.
The angular difference between the heading Actual position
and track is referred to as the drift angle (quoted
ee/ ""
as being to port/left or starboard/right of the 1\)(\6 '='�/
,..(1.6 / ""
heading). If the wind direction were in the same
)/.. " ""
-<; ��c

,... ""
direction as the aircraft heading, i.e. a tail wind,
Drift angle
the aircraft speed of 300 knots through the air /
would equate to a ground speed of 3 1 0 knots.
Likewise, if the wind were from the east (a Heading and airspeed
headwind) the ground speed would be 290 knots.
Knowledge of the wind direction and speed
Figure 8. 7 Resolving actual position
allows the crew to steer the aircraft into the wind
such that the wind actually moves the aircraft
onto the desired track. For dead reckoning
purposes, we can resolve these figures in
mathematical terms and determine a position by Key point
triangulation as illustrated in Figure 8. 7 .
Although the calculation i s straightforward, the The angular difference between the heading and
accuracy of navigation by dead reckoning will track is referred to as the drift angle.
depend on up to date knowledge of wind speed
and direction. Furthermore, we need accurate
measurements of speed and direction. Depending
on the accuracy of measuring these parameters, U PMitlon fixing
positional error will build up over time when
navigating by dead reckoning. We therefore need When travelling short distances over land, natural
a means of checking our calculated position on a terrestrial features such rivers, valleys, hills etc.
periodic basis; this is the process of position can be used as direct observations to keep a check
fiXing. on (pinpointing) the journey's progress. If the
journey is by sea, then we can use the coastline
and specific features such as lighthouses to
confirm our position. If the journey is now made
Key point at night or out of sight of the coast, we need other
means of fixing our position.
Dead reckoning is used to estimate a position by
extrapolating from a known position and then The early navigators used the sun, stars ·and
keeping note of the direction and distance planets very effectively for navigation purposes;
travelled. if the position of these celestial objects is known,
1 06 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

then the navigator can confirm a positiOn

anywhere on the earth's surface. Celestial
navigation (or astronavigation) was used very Maps provide the navigator with a representative
effectively in the early days of long distance diagram of an area that contains a variety of
aircraft navigation. Indeed, it has a number of physical features, e.g. cttJes, roads and
distinct advantages when used by the military: topographical information. Charts contain lines of
the aircraft does not radiate any signals; latitude and longitude, together with essential
navigation is independent of ground equipment; data such as the location of navigation aids.
the references cannot be j ammed; navigation Creating charts and maps requires that we transfer
references are available over the entire globe. distances and geographic features from the earth's
The disadvantage of celestial navigation for spherical surface onto a flat piece of paper. This
aircraft is that the skies are not always clear and is not possible without some kind of compromise
it requires a great deal of skill and knowledge to in geographical shape, surface area, distance or
be able to fix a position whilst travelling at high direction. Many methods of producing charts
sp.eed. Although automated celestial navigation have been developed over the centuries; the
systems were developed for use by the military, choice of projection depends on the intended
they are expensive; modem avionic equipment purpose.
has now phased out the use of celestial In the sixteenth century Gerhardus Mercator,
navigation for commercial aircraft. the Flemish mathematician, geographer and
The earliest ground-based references cartographer, developed what was to become the
(navigation aids) developed for aircraft standard chart format for nautical navigation: the
navigation are based on radio beacons. These M ercator projection. This is a cylindrical map
beacons can provide angular and/or distance projection where the lines of latitude and
information; when using this information to longitude are projected from the earth's centre,
calculate a position fix, the terms are referred to see Figure 8.9. Imagine a cylinder of paper
mathematically as theta (8) and rho (p). By wrapped around the globe and a light inside the
utilising the directional properties of radio waves, globe; this projects the lines of latitude and
the intersection of signals from two or more longitude onto the paper. When the cylinder is
navigation aids can be used to fix a position unwrapped, the lines of latitude appear
(theta-theta), see Figure 8.8. Alternatively, if we incorrectly as having equal length. Directions and
know the distance and direction (bearing) to a the shape of geographic features remain true;
navigation aid, the aircraft position can be however, distances and sizes become distorted.
confirmed (rho-theta). Finally, we can establish The advantage of using this type of chart is that
our position if we know the aircraft's distance the navigator sets a constant heading to reach the
(rho-rho) from any two navigation aids, i.e. destination. The meridians of the Mercator
without knowledge of the bearing. projected chart are crossed at the same angle; the
track followed is referred to as a rhumb line (see
Figure 8 .4).
For aircraft navigation the Mercator projection

/ -- -
might be satisfactory; however, if we want to
;' -- -
/ -- -- ... _

- navigate by great circle routes then we need true

/ --f2B"s1
directions. An alternative projection used for
/ of VOR radials
' Waypoint created by
aircraft navigation, and most popular maps and
/ VOR-A (045')

VOR-A (285")
charts, is the La mbert azimuthul equal-area

projection. This projection was developed by
Johann Heinrich Lambert ( 1 728-77) and is

particularly useful in high latitudes. The
projection is developed from the centre point of
the geographic feature to be surveyed and
charted. Using true north as an example, Figure
Figure 8.8 Position fixing 8 . 1 0 illustrates the Lambert projection.
Aircraft navigation 1 07

Figure 8.9 Mercator projection

8.6 Navigation systems development

This section provides a brief overview of the

development of increasingly sophisticated
navigation systems used on aircraft.

8.6.1 Gyro-magnetic compass

The early aviators used visual aids to guide them
along their route; these visual aids would have
included rivers, roads, rail tracks, coastlines etc.
This type of navigation is not possible at high
altitudes or in low visibility and so the earth's
magnetic field was used as a reference leading to
the use of simple magnetic compasses in aircraft.
We have seen that magnetic variation has to be
taken into account for navigation; there are
Figure 8.1 0 Lambert projection (viewed additional considerations to be addressed for
from true north) compasses in aircraft. The earth's magnetic field
around the aircraft will be affected by:
• the aircraft's own 'local' magnetic fields,
e.g. those caused by electrical equipment
.5 Navigation terminology • sections of the aircraft with high permeability
causing the field to be distorted.
The terms shown in Table 8. 1 are used with
numerous navigation systems including INS and Magnetic compasses are also unreliable in the
RNAV; computed values are displayed on a short-term, i.e. during turning manoeuvres.
control display unit (CDU) and/or primary flight Directional gyroscopes are reliable for azimuth
instruments. These terms are illustrated in Figure guidance in the short term, but drift over longer
8 . 1 1 , all terms are referenced to true north. time periods. A combined magnetic compass
1 08 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

True North

r.-- WD

Great circle from last

waypoint or origin

'---- DSRTK

Last waypoint
or origin

Figure 8.1 1 Navigation terminology

Table 8.1 Navigation terminology

Term· Abbreviation Description

Cross track distance XTK Shortest distance between the present position and desired track

Desired track angle DSRTK Angle between north and the intended flight path of the aircraft

Distance DIS Great circle distance to the next waypoint or destination

Drift angle DA Angle between the aircraft's heading and ground track

Ground track angle TK Angle between north and the flight path of the aircraft

Heading HDG Horizontal angle measured clockwise between the aircraft' s centreline
(longitudinal axis) a�d a specified reference

Present position POS Latitude and longitude of the aircraft's position

Track angle error TKE Angle between the actual track and desired track (equates to the desired track
angle minus the ground track angle)

Wind direction WD Angle between north and the wind vector

True airspeed TAS True airspeed measured in knots

Wind speed ws Measured in knots

Ground speed GS Measured in knots

Aircraft navigation 1 09

stabilised by a directional gyroscope (referred to

as a gyro-magnetic compass) can overcome
these deficiencies. The gyro-magnetic compass
(see Figure 8. 1 2), together with an airspeed
indicator, allowed the crew to navigate by dead
reckoning, i.e. estimating their position by
extrapolating from a known position and then
keeping note of the direction and distance
In addition to directional references, aircraft
also need an attitude reference for navigation,
typically from a vertical gyroscope. Advances in
sensor technology and digital electronics have led
to combined attitude and heading reference
systems (AHRS) based on laser gyros and micro­ Figure 8 . 1 2 Gyro-magnetic compass
electromechanical sensors (see Chapter 1 7).
Instrumentation errors inevitably lead to
deviations between the aircraft' s actual and
calculated positions; these deviations accumulate
over time. Crews therefore need to be able to
confirm and update their position by means of a
fixed ground-based reference, e.g. a radio
navigation aid.

8.6.2 Radio navigation

Early airborne navigation systems using ground­
based navigation aids consisted of a loop antenna
in the aircraft tuned to amplitude modulated
(AM) commercial radio broadcast stations
transmitting in the low-/medium-frequency (LF/
MF) bands. Referring to Figure 8. 1 3 , pilots would Figure 8.1 3 ADF radio navigation
know the location of the radio station (indeed, it
would invariably have been located close to__or
even in the town/city that the crew wanted to fly today. VOR is the basis of the current network of
to) and this provided a means of fixing a position. 'airways' that are used in navigation charts.
Although technology has moved on, these The advent of radar in the 1 940s led to the
automatic direction finder (ADF) systems are development of a number of navigation aids
still in use today. including distance measuring equipment
Operational problems are encountered using (DME). This is a short-/medium-range navigation
low-frequency (LF) and medium-frequency (MF) system, often used in conjunction with the VOR
transmissions. During the mid to late 1 940s, it system to provide accurate navigation fixes. The
was evident to the aviation world that an accurate system is based on secondary radar principles, see
and reliable short-range navigation system was Figure 8. 1 5 .
needed. Since radio communication systems Navigation aids such as automatic direction
based on very high frequency (VHF) were being finder (ADF), VHF omnidirectional range (VOR)
successfully deployed, a decision was made to and distance measuring equipment (DME) are
develop a radio navigation system based on VHF. used to define airways for en route navigation,
This system became the VHF omnidirectional see Figure 8. 1 6 . They are also installed at
range (VOR) system, see Figure 8. 1 4; a system airfields to assist with approaches to those
that is in widespread use throughout the world airfields. These navigation aids cannot, however,
110 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

go• of RF beam

VOR ground station

• VHF transmitter
• Rotating RF beam
• Referenced to magnetic north

Figure 8.14 VOR radio navigation

DME ground

Figure 8 . 1 5 Distance measuring equipment (DME)

be used for precision approaches and landings. approach guidance, i.e. azimuth, elevation and
The standard approach and landing system range. The system provides multiple approach
installed at airfields around the world is the angles for both azimuth and elevation guidance.
instrument landing system (lLS), see Figure Despite the advantages of MLS, it has not yet
8. 1 7. The ILS uses a combination of VHF and been introduced on a worldwide basis for
UHF radio waves and has been in operation since commercial aircraft. Military operators of MLS
1 946. There are a number of shortcomings with often use mobile equipment that can be deployed
ILS; in 1 978 the microwave landing system within hours.
(MLS) was adopted as the long-term replacement. The aforementioned radio navigation aids have
The system is based on the principle of time one disadvantage in that they are land based and
referenced scanning beams and provides only extend out beyond coastal regions. Long­
precision navigation guidance for approach and range radio navigation systems based on
landing. MLS provides three-dimensional hyperbolic navigation were introduced in the
Aircraft navigation 111

L607 - ¥ Magnetic track

Route designator

-- 185 42 349 --
Distance {nm)
FL 1 95 �
""'-r'- FIRIUIR
Upper limit

Lower limit
""' V TACAN 1\ Compulsory
Aerodrome/airport symbols

-o- *
reporting point
I 12.60/0<07JX
� VORTAC .A. On-request cg
A reporting point Civil Civil/military Military

Figure 8.1 6 Airways defined by navigation aids

1 940s to provide for en route operations over The advent o f computers, in particular the
oceans and unpopulated areas. Several hyperbolic increasing capabilities of integrated circuits using
systems have been developed since, including digital techniques, has led to a number of
Decca, Omega and Loran. The operational use of advances in aircraft navigation. One example of
Omega and Decca navigation systems ceased in this is the area navigation system (RNAV); this
1 997 and 2000 respectively. Loran systems are is a means of combining, or filtering, inputs from
still very much available today as stand-alone one or more navigation sensors and defming
systems; they are also being proposed as a positions that are not necessarily eo-located with
complementary navigation aid for global ground-based navigation aids. Typical navigation
navigation satellite systems. The Loran-C system sensor inputs to an RNAV system can be from
is based on a master station and a number of external ground-based navigation aids such as
secondary stations; the use of VLF radio provides VHF omnirange (VOR) and distance measuring
an increased area of coverage, see Figure 8. 1 8 . equipment (DME), see Figure 8. 1 9.
1 12 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Final approach



.,... ,. .,.,

(b) Glide slope

r ��---------- ! Horizontal


(c) localiser

Figure 8.1 7 Instrument landing system

8.6.3 Dead reckoning systems A major advance in aircraft navigation came with
the introduction of the inertial navigation
Dead reckoning systems require no external system (INS). This is an autonomous dead
inputs or references from ground stations. reckoning system, i.e. it requires no external
Doppler navigation systems were developed in inputs or references from ground stations. The
the mid- 1 940s and introduced in the mid- 1 950s as system was developed in the 1 950s for use by the
a primary navigation system. Ground speed and US military and subsequently the space
drift can be determined using a fundamental programmes. Inertial navigation systems (INS)
scientific principle called Doppler shift. Being were introduced into commercial aircraft service
self-contained, the system can be used for long during the early 1 970s. The system is able to
distance navigation over oceans and undeveloped compute navigation data such as present position,
areas of the globe. distance to waypoint, heading, ground speed,
Aircraft navigation 1 13

1200 E 1500 B
commercial aircraft used to have periscopes to
take celestial fixes for long distance navigation.
An artificial constellation of navigation aids was
Estimated area of initiated in 1 973 and referred to as Navstar
ground wave coverage (navigation system with timing and ranging). The
global positioning system (GPS) was developed

. . "·· )/
for use by the US military; the first satellite was
launched in 1 978 and the full constellation was in
---+if---7'-:--+- !
300 N place and operating by 1 994. GPS is now widely
-• •• w available for use by many applications including
aircraft navigation; the system calculates the
.1 aircraft position by triangulating the distances
/ from a number of satellites, see Figure 8.20 .
.. •

8.6.5 Radar navigation
()0 The planned journey from A to B could be
affected by adverse weather conditions. Radar
was introduced onto passenger aircraft during the
M lwo Jlma, Japan
W Marcus Island, Japan 1 950s to allow pilots to identify weather
X Hokkaldo, Japan conditions (see Figure 8.2 1 ) and subsequently re­
Y Geaashl, Japan
Z Barrlgada, Guam route around these conditions for the safety and
comfort of passengers. A secondary use of
weather radar is a terrain-mapping mode that
Figure 8.1 8 Loran-C oceanic coverage allows the pilot to identify features on the ground,
using VLF transm issions e.g. rivers, coastlines and mountains.

8.6.6 Air traffic control

Increasing traffic density, in particular around
airports, means that we need a method of air
traffic control (ATC) to manage the flow of
Waypoint created by VOR
(060 ) traffic and maintain safe separation of aircraft.
radial ° ( and DME
) The ATC system is based on secondary
distance 25 nm
surveillance radar (SSR) facilities located at
strategic sites, at or near airfields. Ground
O controllers use the SSR system to identify
V RIDME individual aircraft on their screens, see Figure
Figure 8.19 Area navigation With ever increasing air traffic congestion, and
the subsequent demands on air traffic control
(ATC) resources, the risk of a mid-air collision
increases. The need for improved traffic flow led
wind speed, wind direction etc. It does not need
to the introduction of the traffic alert and
radio navigation inputs and it does not transmit
collision avoidance system (TCAS). This is an
radio frequencies. Being self-contained, the
automatic surveillance system that helps aircrews
system can be used for long distance navigation
and ATC to maintain safe separation of aircraft. It
over oceans and undeveloped areas of the globe.
is an airborne system (see Figure 8.23) based on
secondary radar that interrogates and replies
8.6.4 Satellite navigation
directly with aircraft via a high-integrity data link.
Navigation by reference to the stars and planets The system is functionally independent of ground
has been employed since ancient times; stations, and alerts the crew if another aircraft
1 14 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

comes within a predetermined time to a potential

collision. It is important to note that TCAS is a
' back-up system, i.e. it provides warnings when
other navigation systems (including A TC) have
\ '
failed to maintain safe separation of aircraft that
could lead to a collision.

8.7 Navigation systems summary

(a) Single satellite describes a circle on the earth's surface
Navigation systems for aircraft have evolved with
the nature and role of the aircraft itself. These
individual systems are described in detail in the

� "

following chapters. Each system has been devel­
oped to meet specific requirements within the
''\. /' \
available technology and cost boundaries. What­
I " /'
ever the requirement, all navigation systems are
I ----�
' "��/_
concerned with several key factors:

• Accuracy: conformance between calculated
and actual position of the aircraft
• Integrity: ability of a system to provide
timely warnings of system degradation
(b) Two satellites define two unique positions. Availability: ability of a system to provide
A third satellrte defines a unique position

the required function and performance

• Continuity: probability that the system will
Figure 8.20 Satellite navigation be available to the user
• Coverage: geographic area where each of the
above are satisfied at the same time.

Test your understanding 8.2

The nautical mile is directly linked to the geometry

of the earth; how is a nautical mile defined?

Test your understanding 8.3

Explain the difference between dead reckoning

and position fixing.
energy (echo)

Test your understanding 8.4

For a given airspeed , explain how tailwinds and

Figure 8.21 Weather radar headwinds affect groundspeed
Aircraft navigation 115

surveillance radar
(SSR) antenna

Side lobe suppression

(SLS) antenna
surveillance radar
(PSR) antenna

ATC radar transmitter /receiver

ATC radar display

(a ) ATC ground station ( b ) ATC ground display

Figure 8.22 Secondary surveillance radar

Traffic Advisory (TA) region

Figure 8.23 Traffic alert and collision avoidance system

Test your understanding 8.5 Test your understanding 8.6

Explain the following terms: accuracy, integrity, Describe three ways that bearings and ranges can
availability. be used for position fixing.
1 16 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

7. One minute of arc of a great circle defmes a:

Test your understanding 8. 7
(a) nautical mile
1 . Explain the difference between Mercator and (b) kilometre
Lambert projections. (c) knot.

2. Where on the earth's surface is the difference 8. The angular difference between magnetic
between a rhumb line and great circle route north and true north is called the:
the greatest? (a) magnetic variation
(b) great circle
(c) prime meridian.

9. Mercator projections produce parallel lines of:

(a) the earth's magnetic field
(b) longitude
I . Longitude referenced to the prime meridian (c) great circle routes.
(a) north or south up to 1 80° 1 0. With respect to the polar radius, the equatorial
(b) east or west up to 1 80° radius of the earth is:
(c) east or west up to 90°. (a) equal
(b) larger
2. Latitude is the angular distance: (c) smaller.
(a) north or south of the equator
(b) east or west of the prime meridian 1 1 . Dead reckoning is the process of:
(c) north or south of the prime meridian. (a) fixing the aircraft's position
(b) correcting the aircraft's position
3 . The distance between lines of longitude (c) estimating the aircraft's position.
converge at the:
(a) poles 1 2 . The angle between the aircraft's heading and
(b) equator ground track is known as the:
(c) great circle. (a) drift angle
(b) cross track distance
4. Lines of latitude are always: (c) wind vector.
(a) converging
(b) parallel 1 3 . Magnetic compasses are umeliable in the:
(c) the same length (a) long-term, flying a constant heading
(b) short-term, during turning manoeuvres
5. Degrees of latitude can be divided by 60 (c) equatorial regions.
giving the unit of:
(a) longitude 1 4. The angle between north and the flight path of
(b) minutes the aircraft is the:
(c) seconds. (a) ground track angle
(b) drift angle
6. The location of magnetic north is (c) heading.
(a) 80° latitude and 1 1 0° longitude, east of the 1 5 . When turning into a 25 knot head wind at
prime meridian constant indicated airspeed, the ground speed
(b) 80° longitude and 1 1 oo latitude, west of

the prime meridian (a) increase by 25 knots
(c) 80° latitude and 1 1 0° longitude, west of (b) remain the same
the prime meridian. (c) decrease by 25 knots.
Chapter A uto mati c d i recti o n fi n d e r
9 ..£

Radio waves have directional characteristics as deviations accumulate over time. Crews therefore
we have seen from earlier chapters. This is the need to be able to confirm and update their
basis of the automatic direction finder (ADF); one position by means of a fixed ground-based
of earliest forms of radio navigation that is still in reference.
use today. ADF is a short-/medium-range (200 The early airborne navigation systems using
nm) navigation system providing directional ground-based navigation aids consisted of a
information; it operates within the frequency fixed-loop antenna in the aircraft tuned to an
range 1 90-1 750 kHz, i.e. low and medium amplitude modulated (AM) commercial radio
frequency bands. The term 'automatic' is broadcast station. Pilots would know the location
somewhat misleading in today's terms; this refers of the radio station (indeed, it would invariably
to the introduction of electromechanical have been located close to or even in the town/
equipment to replace manually operated devices. city that the crew wanted to fly to). The fixed­
In this chapter we will look at the historical loop antenna was aligned with the longitudinal
background to radio navigation, review some axis of the aircraft, with the pilot turning the
typical ADF hardware that is fitted to modern aircraft until he received the minimum signal
commercial transport aircraft, and conclude with strength (null reading). By maintaining a null
some practical aspects associated with the reading, the pilot could be sure that he was flying
operational use of ADF. towards the station. This constant turning was
inefficient in terms of fuel consumption and
caused inherent navigation problems in keeping
.1 Introducing ADF
note of the aircraft's position during these
manoeuvres! The effects of crosswind
The early aviators used visual aids to guide them
complicated this process since the aircraft's
along their route; these visual aids would have
heading is not aligned with its track.
included rivers, roads, rail tracks, coastlines etc.
This type of navigation is not possible in low
visibility and so magnetic compasses were 9.2 ADF princi pleS
introduced. Magnetic compasses are somewhat
unreliable in the short term, i.e. during turning The introduction of an 'automatic' direction
manoeuvres. Directional gyroscopes are reliable finder (ADF) system addresses this problem. A
in the short term, but drift over longer time loop antenna that the pilot could rotate by hand
periods. A combined magnetic compass stabilised solves some of these problems; however, this still
by a directional gyroscope (referred to as a gyro­ requires close attention from the crew. Later
magnetic compass) can overcome these developments of the equipment used an electrical
deficiencies. The gyro-magnetic compass, motor to ·rotate the loop antenna. The received
together with an airspeed indicator, allowed the signal strength is a function of the angular
crew to navigate by dead reckoning, i.e. position of the loop with respect to the aircraft
estimating their position by extrapolating from a heading and bearing to the station, see Figure 9. 1
known position and then keeping note of the (a) and (b). If a plot is made of loop angle and
direction and distance travelled. Instrumentation signal strength, the result is a sine wave as shown
errors inevitably lead to deviations between the in Figure 9. l (c). The null point is easier to
aircraft's actual and calculated positions; these determine than the maximum signal strength
118 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

frequency range 540� 1 620 kHz) became an

established method of travelling across country.
With the growth of air travel, dedicated radio
navigation aids were installed along popular air
transport routes. These radio stations, known as
non-directional beacons (NDB), gradually
supplemented the commercial radio stations and a
network of NDBs sprang up in the nations
Loop rotation developing their aeronautical infrastructure.
These NDBs broadcast in the low-frequency (LF)
(a) Electromagnetic wave and

111111 11111 11111 11>111 �1

· loop antenna range 1 90-4 1 5 kHz and medium-frequency (MF)
I range 5 1 0�53 5 kHz. As the quantity of NDBs

increased, air navigation charts were produced
and the NDBs were identified by a two or three
/ letter alpha code linked to the location and
Electromagnetic wave 1 frequency. In Figure 2(c), the NDB located at
(vertically polartsed) o
Mackel in Belgium transmits on 360.5 kHz and is
I identified as MAK; note the Morse code, latitude

and longitude details on the chart. Beacons are


0/ /
/ I

deployed with varying power outputs classified as

"'-.."--.. I
/ I
high (2 kW), medium (SOW to 2 kW) and low
(less than 50 W).
(b) Angle between loop antenna and Table 9. 1 provides a list of typical NDBs
electromagnetic wave
associated with airports and cities in a typical
European country (note that these are provided
Component of magnetic
Current wave linking with loop is
for illustration purposes only). Beacons marked
a function of sin 9 with an asterisk in this table are referred to as
Null point locator beacons; they are part of the final
0 ---�--
approach procedures for an airfield (see Chapter
e 1 2).

(c) Loop angle and signal strength

9.3.1 Antenna
Figure 9.1 Loop antenna output
The rotating loop antenna was eventually
replaced with a fixed antenna consisting of two
since the rate of change is highest. Rotating the loops combined into a single item; one aligned
antenna (rather than turning the aircraft) to with the centreline of the fuselage, the other at
determine the null reading from the radio station right angles as shown in Figure 9.3. This
was a major advantage of the system. The pilot orthogonal antenna is still referred to as the ' loop'
read the angular difference between the aircraft's antenna. Measuring the signal strength from each
heading and the direction of the radio station, see of the loops, and deriving an angular position in a
Figure 9.2(a), from a graduated scale and a dedicated ADF receiver, determines the direction
bearing to the station could then be determined. to the selected beacon (or commercial radio
The industry drive towards solid-state station). The loop antenna resolves the directional
components, i.e. with no moving parts, has led to signal; however, this can have two possible
the equipment described in Section 9.3. solutions 1 80 degrees apart. A second 'sense'
Navigation based on ADF (using AM antenna is therefore required to detect non­
commercial radio stations broadcasting in the directional radio waves from the beacon; this
Automatic direction finder 1 19

ADF station

(a) Using an ADF system for navigation (b) ADF non-directional beacon (NOB)
(photo courtesy of T. Diamond)

Route designator

-18& �84.9-
1 Magnetic track

FL 195
D1stance (nm)

......_ Upper hmn

Lower limit

c:::; TACAN Compulsory Aerodrome/airport symbols

-c) *
reporting point

On-request (Q)
�1l41N/OO)Ot()&( reporting point CMI CfviVmilitary Military

(c) MACKEL NOB shown on a navigation chart

Figure 9.2 Navigation by non-directional beacons N OB

1 20 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Sense antenna
Table 9.1 Examples of N OB codes and
Loop antennas

Name Identification code Frequency (kHz)

Eelde so 330.00

Eindhoven EHN 397 .00

Eindhoven PH 31 6.00

Gull GUL 383.50

Maastricht *
37 3.00

F� Electrical connector

Rotterdam ROT 350.50

Figure 9.3 ADF antenna
Rotterdam * PS 369.00

Rotterdam * RR 404.50

Schiphol CH 388.50 Loop only

Sense antenna
Schiphol * NV 332.00 Loop plus sense

Stad STD 386.00

Stadskanaal STK 3 1 5.00 ,

Thorn THN 434.00 I

Twenthe TWN 335.50

* Locator beacons

signal is combined with the directional signals

from the loop antenna to produce a single
directional solution. The polar diagram for a loop
and sense antenna is shown in Figure 9.4; when
the two patterns are combined, it forms a
cardioid. Most commercial transport aircraft are
fitted with two independent ADF systems
typically identified as left and right systems; the
antenna locations for a typical transport aircraft
are shown in Figure 9.5. Figure 9.4 Polar diagram for the ADF loop ·

and sense antennas

9.3.2 Receiver
ADF receivers are located in the avionic The sense antenna signal is processed in the
equipment bay. The signal received at the receiver via a superhet receiver (see page 46)
antenna is coupled to the receiver in three ways: which allows weak signals to be identified,
together with discrimination of adjacent
• The sense signal frequencies. The output of the superhet receiver is
• A loop signal proportional in amplitude to then integrated into the aircraft's audio system.
the cosine of the relative angle of the Loop antenna signals are summed with the sense
aircraft centreline and received signal antenna signal; this forms a phase-modulated
• A loop signal proportional in amplitude to (PM) carrier signal. The superhet intermediate
the sine of the relative angle of the aircraft frequency (IF) is coupled with the PM signal into
centreline and received signal. a coherent demodulator stage that senses the
Automatic direction finder 121

Figure 9.5 Location of left and right ADF antennas on a typical transport aircraft

presence of a sense antenna signal from the IF oscillator (BFO) circuit in the ADF receiver. To
stage. The PM component of the signal is produce an audio output, the receiver heterodynes
recovered from the voltage controlled oscillator (beats) the carrier wave signal with a separate
(VCO) phase lock circuit (see page 53). This signal derived from an oscillator in the receiver.
recovered signal contains the bearing information Some ADF panels have an ADF/ANT switch
received by the antenna and is compared to a where ' ADF ' selects normal operation, i.e.
reference modulation control signal. combined sense and loop antennas; and ' ANT'
Receivers based on analogue technology send selects the sense antenna by itself so that the crew
bearing data to the flight deck displays using can confirm that a station is broadcasting, i.e.
synchro systems. Digital receivers transmit without seeking a null. General aviation products
bearing data to the displays using a data bus combine the control panel and receiver into a
system, typically ARINC 429. The ADF receiver single item, see Figure 9.6(c). A changeover
is often incorporated into a multi-mode receiver switch is used to select the active and standby
along with other radio navigation systems. frequencies.

9.3.3 Control panel 9.3.4 ADF bearing display

Aircraft with analogue (electromechanical) The output from the ADF receiver is transmitted
avionics have a dedicated ADF control panel, to a display that provides the pilot with both
located on the centre pedestal, see Figure 9.6(a). magnetic heading and direction to the tuned
An alternative panel shown in Figure 9.6(b) NDB, this can either be a dedicated ADF
enables the crew to select a range of functions instrument as shown in Figure 9.7(a), or a radio
including: frequency selectors/displays and the magnetic indicator (RMI), see Figure 9.7(b).
beat frequency oscillator (BFO). This function is In the RMI, two bearing pointers (coloured red
used when they want to create an audio frequency and green) are associated with the two ADF
for carrier wave transmissions through their audio systems and allow the crew to tune into two
panel. different NDBs at the same time. RMis can have
NDB carrier waves that are not modulated with a dual purpose; pilots use a switch on the RMI to
an audio component use the beat frequency select either ADF and/or VHF omnidirectional
1 22 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

range (VOR) bearings (see Chapter 1 0 for the

latter). Referring to Figure 9.7(c), some aircraft
have a bearing source indicator (located adjacent
to the RMI) that confirms ADF or VOR selection.
The evolution of digital electronics together
with integration of other systems has led to the
introduction of the flight management system
(FMS: see Chapter 1 9) control display unit
(CDU) which is used to manage the ADF system.
Aircraft fitted with electronic flight instrument
systems (EFIS) have green NDB icons displayed
on the electronic horizontal situation indicator
(EHSI) as shown in Figure 9.7(e).

(a) Location of ADF control panel

Key point
ADF is a short/medium-range (200 nm) navigation
system operating within the frequency range 1 90
to 1 750 kHz, i.e. low and medium frequency
bands. The ADF system uses an orthogonal
antenna consisting of two loops; one aligned with
the centreline of the fuselage, the other at right

Test your understanding 9.1

Why does the ADF system seek a null rather than
the maximum signal strength from a transmitting
(b) Typical ADF control panel

Test your understanding 9.2

Explain the function of the ADF/ANT switch that is
present on some ADF panels.

ADF radio waves are propagated as ground

waves and/or sky waves. Problems associated
(c) ADF panel/receiver for general aviation with ADF are inherent in the frequency range that
the system uses. ADF transmissions are
Fig ure 9.6 ADF control panels susceptible to errors from:
1 23

(d) RMI and source indicator

(a) ADF bearing indicator

(e) EHSI with an NOB icon (shown as MAK

on the upper left of the display)

Figure 9. 7 ADF displays

Test your understanding 9.3

Explain the purpose of a beat frequency oscillator

(BFO) and why it is needed in an ADF receiver.
(c) Location of RMI and source ind icator
1 24 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

ADF transmitters remain installed throughout the

• Atmospheric conditions: the height and
world and the system is used as a secondary radio
depth of the ionosphere will vary depending
navigation aid. The equipment remains installed
on solar activity. The sky waves (see Figure
on modern aircraft, albeit integrated with other
9.8) will be affected accordingly since their
radio navigation systems.
associated skip distances will vary due to
refraction in the ionosphere. This is
particularly noticeable at sunrise and sunset.
• Physical aspects of terrain: mountains and
valleys will reflect the radio waves causing
multipath reception.
• Coastal refraction : low-frequency waves that
are propagated across the surface of the earth
as ground waves will exhibit different
characteristics when travelling over land
versus water. This is due to the attenuation of
the ground wave being different over land and
water. The direction of a radio wave across
land will change (see Figure 9.9) when it
reaches the coast and then travels over water.
This effect depends on the angle between the
(a) Atmospheric layers
radio wave and the coast.
• Quadrantal error (QE): many parts of the
aircraft structure, e.g. the fuselage and wings,
are closely matched in physical size to the
wavelength of the ADF radio transmissions.
Radiated energy is absorbed in the airframe
and re-radiated causing interference; this
depends on the relative angle between the
direction of travel, the physical aspects of the
aircraft and location of the ADF transmitter.
Corrections can be made for QE in the
• Interference: this can arise from electrical
storms, other radio transmissions, static build­
up/discharges and other electrical equipment
on the aircraft.
The accuracy of an ADF navigation system is in
(b) Ionosphere and skip distance
the order of ±5 degrees for locator beacons and
± 1 0 degrees for en route beacons. Any of the
Figure 9.8 Sky waves and the ionosphere
above conditions will lead to errors in the bearing
information displayed on the RMI . If these
conditions occur in combination then the
navigation errors will be significant. Pilots cannot
use ADF for precision navigation due to these Key point
The increased need for more accuracy and ADF radio waves are propagated as ground
reliability of navigation systems led to a new waves and/or sky waves. Problems associated
with ADF are inherent in the frequency range that
generation of en route radio navigation aids; this
the system uses.
is covered in the next chapter. In the meantime,
Automatic direction finder 1 25

Test your understanding 9.6

Where would locator beacons be found?

Test your understanding 9. 7

Why are there two pointers on the RMI?

Test your understanding 9.8

Describe how ground and sky waves are affected
(a) local terrain
(b) the ionosphere
(c) attenuation over land and water
(d) electrical storms.

Test your understanding 9.9

Explain, in relation to an ADF system, what is
meant by quadrantal error. What steps can be
Figure 9.9 Effect of coastal refraction taken to reduce this error?

Key point 9.5 Multiple choice q uestions

ADF cannot be used for precision navigation due 1 . ADF antennas are used to determine what
to inherent performance limitations; it remains as aspect of the transmitted signal?
a backup to other navigation systems. (a) Wavelength
(b) Null signal strength
(c) Maximum signal strength.

Test your u nderstanding 9.4 2. The ADF antennas include:

(a) one sense loop and two directional loops
Why do ADF antennas need a sense loop? (b) two sense loops and two directional loops
(c) two sense loops and one directional loop.

3 . ADF operates in the following frequency

Test your understanding 9.5 (a) MF to VHF
(b) LF to MF
How are NOBs identified on navigation charts?
(c) VLF.
1 26 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

4. Bearing to the tuned ADF station is displayed 1 2 . Quadrantal error (QE) is associated with the:
on the: (a) ionosphere
(a) RMI (b) physical aspects of terrain
(b) NDB (c) physical aspects of the aircraft structure.
(c) HSI.
1 3 . ADF ground waves are affected by:
5. The purpose of an ADF sense antenna is to: (a) the ionosphere
(a) provide directional information to the (b) coastal refraction and terrain
receiver (c) solar activity.
(b) discriminate between NDBs and
commercial broadcast stations 14. ADF sky waves are affected by:
(c) combine with the loop antenna to (a) the ionosphere
determine a station bearing. (b) coastal refraction
(c) the local terrain.
6. The RMI has two pointers coloured red and
green; these are used to indicate: 1 5 . A BFO can be used to establish:
(a) two separately tuned ADF stations (a) the non-directional output of an NDB
(b) AM broadcast stations (red) and NDBs (b) which loop antenna is receiving a null
(green) (c) an audio tone for an NDB.
(c) heading (red) and ADF bearing (green).
1 6. Referring to Figure 9. 1 0, which icon is for the
7. The bearing source indicator adjacent the RMI NDB?
confirms: (a) HAR
(a) ADF or VOR selection (b) MAK
(b) the NDB frequency (c) WPT08.
(c) the NDB bearing.

8. NDBs on navigation charts can be identified

(a) five letter codes
(b) two/three letter codes
(c) triangles.

9. Morse code is used to confirm the NDB 's:

(a) frequency
(b) name
(c) bearing.

1 0 . During sunrise and sunset, ADF transmissions

are affected by:
(a) coastal refraction
(b) static build-up in the airframe
(c) variations in the ionosphere.
1 zo • ; z o
1 1 . NDBs associated with the final approach to an
airfield are called:
(a) locator beacons
(b) reporting points
(c) en route navigation aids. Figure 9.1 0 See Question 1 6
VH F o m n i d i recti o n a l ra nge

We have seen from earlier chapters that radio VOR operates in the same frequency range as the
waves have directional characteristics. In Chapter instrument landing system (ILS), described in
9, we looked at the early use of radio navigation, Chapter 1 2 . Although the two systems are
and some of the operational problems in using completely independent and work on totally
low-frequency (LF) and medium-frequency (MF) different principles, they often share the same
transmissions. During the mid- to late 1 940s, it receiver. The two systems are differentiated by
was evident to the aviation world that an accurate their frequency allocations within this range. ILS
and reli�ble short-range navigation system was frequencies are allocated to the odd tenths of
needed. Since radio communication systems each 0.5 MHz increment, e.g. 1 09. 1 0 MHz,
based on very high frequency (VHF) were being 1 09. 1 5 MHz, 1 09.30 MHz etc. VOR frequencies
successfully deployed, a decision was made to are allocated even tenths of each 0.5 MHz
develop a radio navigation system based on VHF . increment, e.g. 1 09.20 MHz, 1 09.40 MHz,
This system became the VHF omnidirectional 1 09.60 MHz etc. Table 1 0. 1 provides an
range (VOR) system; a system that is in illustration of how these frequencies are allocated
widespread use throughout the world today and is within the 1 09 MHz range. This pattern is
the basis for the current network of 'airways' that applied from 1 08 to 1 1 1 .95 MHz.
are used for navigation.
Table 1 0.1 Allocation of I LS and VOR

10.1 . 1 Overview /LS frequency (MHz) VOR frequency (MHz)

VOR is a short/medium-range navigation system 109.00
operating in the 1 08- 1 1 7.95 MHz range of
frequencies. This means that the radio waves are 1 09.10
now propagated as space waves. The problems 1 09. 1 5
that were encountered with ground and sky waves 109.20
in the LF and MF ranges are no longer present
with a VHF system. VOR navigation aids are 109.30
identified by unique three-letter codes (derived \ 109.35
from their name, e.g. London VOR is called 109.40
LON, Dover VOR is called DVR etc.). The code
is modulated onto the carrier wave as a 1 020 Hz 109.50
tone that the crew can listen to as a Morse code 109.55
signal. Some VOR navigation aids have an
automatic voice identification announcement that
provides the name of the station; this alternates 1 09.70
with the Morse code signal. The location of the 109.75
VOR navigation aids (specified by latitude and
longitude) together with their carrier wave
frequencies is provided on navigation charts as 109.90
with ADF. 109.95
1 28 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 0.1 .2 Overview Table 1 0.2 Theoretical LOS range

In addition to the inherently improved system
performance and navigation reliability, VOR has Altitude (feet) Range (nm)
another feature that makes it extremely useful for 1 00 10
air navigation. The VOR system has the ability to 1 000 32
transmit specific bearing information, referred to 000 0
as a 'radial', see F igure l O . l (a). The pilot can 5, 7
select any radial from a given VOR navigation 1 0 000 1 00
aid and fly to or from that aid. Since the system is 20 ,000 141
'line of sight', i.e. receiving signals as space
waves, the altitude of the aircraft will have a
direct relationship with the range within which
Table 1 0.3 Navigation aid classifications
the system can be used, see Figure I O. l (b) .
Using VHF navigation aids imposes a limit on
the theoretical working range that can be Classification Altitude (feet) Range (nm)
obtained. The maximum theoretical line-of-sight 1 000 1 2 000
Terminal , - , 25
(LOS) distance between an aircraft and the
ground station is given by the relationship: 1 000-1 8 000 40
Low altitude , ,
1 8 000-4 000 1 30
High altitude , 5,
d = 1 .1�
where d is the distance in nautical miles, and h is
the altitude in feet above ground level (assumed 1 0.1 .3 Conventional VOR (CVOR)
to be flat terrain). The theoretical LOS range for There are two types of VOR ground navigation
altitudes up to 20,000 feet is given in Table 1 0.2. transmitter: conventional and Doppler. The
At higher altitudes, it is possible to receive conventional VOR (CVOR) station radiates two
VOR signals at greater distances but with reduced signals: omnidirectional and directional on a
signal integrity. Although the actual range also continuous basis. The omnidirectional (or
depends on transmitter power and receiver reference) signal is the carrier wave frequency of
sensitivity, the above relationship provides a good the station, amplitude modulated to 30 Hz. The
approximation. In practice, navigation aids have a directional signal is radiated as a cardioid pattern
designated standard service volume (SSV); this rotating at 30 revolutions per second. The sub­
defines the reception limits within an altitude carrier frequency is 9960 Hz, frequency
envelope as shown in Table 1 0. 3 . modulated in the range 9960 ±480 Hz at 30 Hz.
The directional signal is arranged to be in
phase with the reference signal when the aircraft
is due north (magnetic) of the VOR station. As
Key point the cardioid pattern rotates around the station, the
two signals become out of phase on a progressive
basis, see Figure 1 0.2. The bearing between any
VOR radials are referenced to magnetic north;
they are the basis of airways for en route
navigation. given angle and magnetic north is determined by
the receiver as the phase angle difference between
the reference and directional signals. This
difference in phase angle is resolved in the
aircraft receiver and displayed to the crew as a
Key point radial from the VOR station, see Figure 1 0.3.
Locations of conventional VOR (CVOR)
VOR transmissions are 'line of sight' therefore
ground stations have to be carefully planned to
range increases with increased altitude.
take into account local terrain and obstacles.
VHF omnidirectional range 1 29

90' of RF beam

VOR ground station

• VHF transmitter
• Rotating RF beam
• Referenced to magnetic north

(a) VHF omni-range (VOR) overview

(b) VHF omni-range-line of sight

Figure 1 0.1 VOR overview

Mountains and trees can cause multipath omnidirectional transmitter i n the centre,
reflections resulting in distortion (known as siting amplitude modulated at 30 Hz; this is the
errors) of the radiated signal. These errors can be reference phase. The directional signal is derived
overcome with an enhanced second-generation from a 44 feet diameter circular array comprising
system known as Doppler VOR (DVOR). up to 52 individual antennas, see Figure 1 0.4(a)
and (b). Each antenna transmits in turn to
1 0.1.4 Doppler VOR (DVOR) simulate a rotating antenna.
Consider two aircraft using the DVOR station
Doppler is usually associated with self-contained
as illustrated in Figure 1 0.4(c). The effect of the
navigation systems, and this subject is described
rotating 9960 Hz signal is to produce a Doppler
in a separate chapter. The Doppler effect is also
shift; aircraft A will detect a decreased frequency,
applied to the second-generation version of VOR
aircraft B will detect an increased frequency.
ground transmitters. The Doppler effect can be
Doppler shift creates a frequency modulated (FM)
summarised here as: ' . . . the frequency of a wave
signal in the aircraft receiver over the range 9960
apparently changes as its source moves closer to,
Hz ±480 Hz varying at 30 Hz in a sine wave.
or farther away from an observer' .
Note that the perceived frequency will be 9960
The DVOR ground station has a n
1 30 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

)0\30' ' '




(a) Conventional VOR reference

· 3W
. v{ · .
(\ ffi\
/ V;[

. {'·. . -----j
(\ f------
f\y_ g oo

\ 1 35
. Yv
1\(j ·

(b) Variable signal phase relationship

(c) Conventional VOR navigation aid

Figure 1 0.2 Conventional VOR (CVOR)

VHF omnidirectional range 1 31

t Modem transport aircraft have two VOR systems

often designated left and right; note that airborne
equipment is the same for conventional and
Doppler VOR. Radio frequency (RF) signals
from the antenna are processed in the receiver as
determined by frequency and course selections
from the control panel; outputs are sent to various

1 0.2.1 Antennas
The VOR antenna is a horizontally polarised,
(a) VOR bearing
omnidirectional half-wave dipole, i.e. a single
conductor with a physical length equal to half the
wavelength of the VOR signals being received.
255° bearing to VOR station
Two such antennas are formed into a single
package and usually located in the aircraft fin as
(tuned by left VOR receiver)

indicated in Figure 1 0.5. They are packaged

within a composite fairing for aerodynamic
streamline purposes. The antennas are connected
to the receivers via coaxial cables.

1 0.2.2 Receivers
VOR receivers are often combined with other
radio navigation functions, e.g. the instrument
landing system; receivers are located in the
avionic equipment bay, see Figure 1 0.6.
VOR receivers are based on the super­
(b) RMI heterodyne principle with tuning from the control
panel. The received radio frequency signal is
Figure 1 0.3 VOR bearings and displays passed through an amplitude modulation filter to
separate out the:
• 30 Hz tone from the rotating pattern
Hz when the aircraft are in the positions shown in
• voice identification (if provided from the
Figure 1 0.4(c). The phase difference measured in
navigation aid)
the airborne equipment depends on the bearing of
the aircraft relative to the station. Since the FM
• Morse code tone; 9960 Hz signal FM by
variable signal is less prone to interference, ±480 Hz at 30 Hz reference tone.
DVOR performance is superior to CVOR. Voice and Morse code tones are integrated with
DVOR actually uses two rotating patterns as the audio system. A comparison of the phase
shown in Figure 1 0.4(d). These patterns angles of the variable and reference 30 Hz signals
(diagonally opposite each other) rotate at 30 produces the VOR radial signal. Receivers based
revolutions per second; one pattern is 9960 Hz on analogue technology interface with the flight
above the reference, the other is 9960 Hz below deck displays using synchro systems. Digital
the reference frequency. The diameter of the receivers interface with other systems using a
array, together with the speed of pattern rotation data bus system, typically ARINC 429. Receivers
creates a Doppler shift of 480 Hz (at VOR usually combine both VOR and instrument
frequencies). landing system functions (see Chapter 1 2).
1 32 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Doppler VOR (DVOR) navigation aid (b) Doppler VOR (DVOR) navigation aid
(photo courtesy of T. Diamond) (photo courtesy of T. Diamond)

_h._ 0 Received frequency

� I\
less than f

--- �) '
Rotating signal
with ''""'m;o;og '®•"'' = f



- --
A .�
Received frequency
- --------
/ ' ,.

--:::;-� grea ter th an f


(c) Rotating transmitting signal

Central fixed antenna transmitting on fc

_ _
_ _ _ _ _ _
_ _
Antenna transmitting on (fc + fs)
_ _
/ / -
I '

Antenna transmitting on (fc - f5)

(d) Double sideband Doppler VOR

Figu re 1 0.4 Doppler VOR (DVOR)

VHF omnidirectional range 1 33

VOR antennas

Figure 1 0.5 Location of VOR antennas

10.2.3 Control panels on the RMI to select either ADF and/or VOR
bearings (see Chapter 9 for ADF). Some aircraft
Control panels identified as 'VHF NAY' can be
have a bearing source indicator adjacent to the
located on the glare shield (as shown in Figure
RMI to confirm ADF or VOR selection, see
10.7) or centre pedestal. This panel is used to
Figure 1 0.8(c).
select the desired course and VOR frequencies.
In order to fly along an airway, first it has to be
General aviation products have a combined VHF
intercepted. This is achieved by flying towards
navigation and communications panel-see
the desired radial on a specified heading. The
Figure 1 0.6(b}-this can be integrated with the
method of displaying the VOR radial depends on
GPS navigation panel.
the type of avionic fit. Electromechanical
instruments include the omni-bearing selector
1 0.2.4 VOR displays
(OBS) and course deviation indicator (CDI), see
The bearing to a VOR navigation aid (an output Figure 1 0.9. The omni-bearing selector (OBS)
from the receiver) can be displayed on the radio indicator has a number of features; the selector is
magnetic indicator (RMI); this is often shared used to manually rotate the course card. This card
with the ADF system as discussed in the previous is calibrated from 0 to 360° and indicates the
chapter. The RMI, Figure l 0.8(a), provides the VOR bearing selected to fly TO or FROM.
pilot with both magnetic heading and direction to In Figure 1 0.9(a), a VOR radial of 345° has
the tuned VOR navigation aid. The two bearing been selected. The deviation pointer moves to the
pointers (coloured red and green) are associated left or right to guide the pilot in the required
with the two VOR systems and allow the crew to direction to maintain the selected course. Each
tune into two different VOR navigation aids at dot on the scale represents a 2° deviation from the
the same time. On some instruments, a switch on selected course. The back-course (BC) indicator
the RMI is used to select either ADF or VOR indicates when flying FROM the VOR navigation
bearing information, see Figure 1 0.8(b). RMis aid. On some instruments, the BC indicator is
therefore have a dual purpose; pilots use a switch replaced by a TO/FROM display in the form of
1 34 Aircraft commun ications and navigation systems

Figure 1 0.7 Typical VOR control panel

an arrow. A red OFF flag i ndicates when the:

• VOR navigation aid is beyond reception range
• pilot has not selected a YOR frequency
• YOR system is turned off, or is inoperative.
An updated version of this instrument is the CD!.
This has a compass display and course selector as
shown in Figure 1 0 .9(b). The course selector
(lower right-hand side of instrument) is set to the
desired VOR radial; a deviation pointer moves
left or right of the aircraft symbol to indicate if
(a) VOR receiver (remotely located in the the aircraft is to the right or left of the selected
aircraft's avion ic equipment bay) radial.
For ai rcraft with electronic flight i nstruments,
the desired radial is displayed on the electronic
horizontal situation indicator ( E H S I ) . This EHSI
display can either be selected to show a
conventional compass card (Figure l O . l O(a)) or
expanded display (Figure l O. l O(b)). As the radial
is approached the deviation bar gradually aligns
with the selected course.
If flying manually, the crew turn the aircraft
onto the selected course wh ilst monitoring the
deviation bar; when it is centred, the radial has
been intercepted and the E H S I will display 'TO'
confirming that the inbound radial is being
followed. Tbe flight continues until the VOR
navigation is reached, and the radial to the next
navigation aid is selected. If the EHS[ were stil l
(b) Navigation and communications panel/ selected to the original inbound radial, the EHSI
receiver used in general aviation would display ' F ROM ' . The lateral deviation bar
therefore shows if the aircraft is flying on the
selected radial, or if it is to the left or right of the
Figure 1 0.6 VOR receivers radial.
VHF omnidirectional range 1 35

(a) RMI with two bearing pointers

Right omni-bearing pointer Left omni-bearing pointer

Left bearing pointer Right bearing pointer

source control source control

(b) RMI sou rce control (VOR/AD F)

(c) RMI and bearing source annunciator

Figure 1 0.8 VOR d isplays and indicators

1 36 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 0.3 Operational aspects of VOR

Radials from any given VOR navigation aid are

the basis of airways; system accuracy is typically
within one degree. These are the standard routes
flown by aircraft when flying on instruments.
When two VOR radials intersect, they provide a
unique navigation position fix based (theta­
theta). The accuracy of this fix is greatest when
the radials intersect at right angles. Figure 1 0. 1 1
illustrates how navigation charts are built up on a
network of VOR radia1s; the accuracy of VOR
radials is generally very good (± 1 degree). In this
illustration, the navigation aid located near
(a) Omnibearing selector Brussels (abbreviated BUB) transmits on 1 1 4.6
MHz. Three radials can be seen projected from
this navigation aid on 1 36°, 3 1 0" and 32 1 °. These
radials are used to defme airways A24 and G 1 20.
Note the Morse code output and latitude/
longitude for the navigation aid.
The intersecting radials from navigation aids
are used to define reporting points for en route
navigation. These reporting points are given five­
letter identification codes associated with their
geographic location. For example, the reporting
point HELEN is defined by airways G5 and
A 1 20. The flexibility of VOR is greatly increased
when eo-located distance measuring equipment
(DME) is used, thereby providing rho--theta fixes
from a single navigation aid. There are examples
(b) Course deviation indicator (CDI) of VOR-only navigation aids, e.g. Perth in
Scotland (identification code PTH, frequency
Figure 1 0.9 Omni-bearing selector and 1 1 0.40 MHz). The majority of VOR navigation
course deviation indicator aids are paired with DME; this system is
described in the next chapter.

Key point

Two intersecting VOR radials can be used to Test your understanding 1 0. 1

define unique locations known as reporting points;
these are used for air traffic control purposes. Why are VOR transmissions 'line of sight' only?

Key point Test your understanding 1 0.2

Doppler VOR was introduced to overcome siting Calculate (a) the line of sight range for an aircraft
problems found with conventional VOR. The two at an altitude at 7,500 feet and (b) the altitude of
systems operate on different principles; however, an aircraft that would yield a line of sight range of
the airborne equipment is the same. 200 nautical miles.
VHF omnidirectional range 1 37

Heading orientation indicator and

reference (magnetic heading)
Selected heading
Course select pointer

Lateral deviation scale

Aircraft symbol

Lateral deviation bar

Source annunciator
To/From annunciator

(a) EHSI VOR full mode

Weather radar mode,

Distance display
gain and tilt

Course select

Weather radar display

Lateral deviation bar

Lateral deviation scale

To/From annunciator

(b) EHSI VOR expanded mode

Figure 1 0. 1 0 VOR electronic d isplays

Test your understanding 1 0.3 Test your understanding 1 0.5

How can the crew identify a specific VOR Explain how a VOR radial is captured.
navigation aid?

Test your understanding 1 0.4 Test your understanding 1 0.6

Where can a VOR radial be displayed? W hy does an RMI have two VOR pointers?
1 38 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

036° (M )

Heading 036° (M)

'-'",\\ -
' \' 1 ' 1 ' / ' _
_ _

�� �'A
0 3 s

- t� � - Pointer indicates
'0;. 1�><? 12 �,\0� VOR direction
/ I 1 / , j . \ ,\1 I

Selected track : il 2lal sll

(a) (b)

0 105•

en Po
in t 'A , a
nd Poi
n t ·s ·

2&· 0

(c) Airways using VOR radials

Figure 1 0.1 1 VOR rad ials and airways

Test your understanding 1 0.7 Test your understanding 1 0.8

What is the difference in aircraft equipment ·

What is the Morse code output used for in a VOR
between conventional and Doppler VOR? transmission?

Key point Key point

Navigation charts are built up on a network of VOR operates in the frequency band extending
VOR radials. We shall see in later chapters how from 1 08 MHz to 1 1 7.95 MHz. Three alpha
these charts are supplemented by area navigation characters are used to identify specific VOR
waypoints. navigation aids.
1 39

Route designator


-- beanng
L607 Magnetic
'--/ �:349 --
-- 185

D1stance (nm}

FL 1 9 5 .....__
Upper hm1t
Lower limit

V TACAN D reporting point

Compulsory Aerodrome/airport symbols

9 VORTAC .. On-request
reporting point
-c) *
Civil/military Military

(c) Airway network over Belgium

Figure 1 0. 1 1 (continued)

0.4 M ultiple choice questions 3 . Where is the deviation from a selected VOR
radial displayed?
I. VOR operates in which frequency range? (a) RMI
(a) LF (b) HSI
(b) MF (c) NDB.
(c) VHF.
4. At which radial will the directional wave be
2. VOR signals are transmitted as what type of out of phase by 90 degrees with the non­
wave? directional wave?
(a) Sky wave (a) 090 degrees
(b) Ground wave (b) 000 degrees
(c) Space wave. (c) 1 80 degrees.
1 40 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

5. At which radial will the directional signal be 1 2. The DVOR navigation aid has an
in phase with the non-directional signal? omnidirectional transmitter located in the:
(a) 090 degrees (a) centre
(b) 000 degrees (b) outer antenna array
(c) 1 80 degrees. (c) direction of magnetic north.

6. VOR navigation aids are identified by how 1 3 . When flying overhead a VOR navigation aid,
many alpha characters? the reliability of directional signals:
(a) Two (a) decreases
(b) Three (b) increases
(c) Five. (c) stays the same.

7. VOR radials are referenced to: 1 4. Reporting points using VOR navigation aids
(a) non-directional signals from the are defined by the:
navigation aid (a) identification codes
(b) magnetic north (b) intersection of two radials
(c) true north. (c) navigation aid frequencies.

8. The RMI has two pointers coloured red and 1 5. With increasing altitude, the range of a VOR
green; these are used to indicate: transmission will be:
(a) the bearing of two separately tuned VOR (a) increased
stations (b) decreased
(b) directional (red) and non-directional (c) the same.
transmissions (green)
(c) the radials of two separately tuned VOR 1 6. Referring to Figure 1 0. 1 2, the instrument
stations. shown is called the:
(a) omni-bearing selector (OBS)
9. Morse code tones are used to specify the (b) radio magnetic indicator (RMI)
VOR: (c) course deviation indicator (CDI).
(a) identification
(b) frequency
(c) radial.

1 0. The intersection of two VOR radials provides

what type of position fix?
(a) Rho-rho
(b) Theta-theta
(c) Rho-theta.

1 1 . An aircraft is flying on a beading of 090

degrees to intercept the selected VOR radial
of 1 80 degrees; the HSI will display that the
aircraft is:
(a) right of the selected course
(b) left of the selected course
(c) on the selected course. Figure 1 0. 1 2 See Question 16
Chapter D i sta nce measu ri ng eq u i p m e nt

The previous two chapters have been concerned

with obtaining directional information for the
purposes of airborne navigation. In this chapter
we will look at a system that provides the crew
with the distance to a navigation aid. Distance
measuring equipment (DME) is a short/medium­
range navigation system, often used in
conjunction with the VOR system to provide
accurate navigation fixes. The system is based on
secondary radar principles, and operates in the L­
band of radar. Before looking at what the system
does and how it operates in detail, we need to
Figure 1 1 .1 Primary radar
take at look at some basic radar principles.

11.1 Radar principles

The word radar is derived from radio getection

�nd ranging; the initial use of radar was to locate
aircraft and display their range and bearing on a
monitor (either ground based or in another
aircraft). This type of radar is termed primary
radar: Energy is radiated via a rotating radar (a) Secondary radar used for DME
antenna to illuminate a 'target' ; this target could
be an aircraft, the ground or a cloud. Some of this
energy is reflected back from the target and is
collected in the same antenna, see Figure 1 1 . 1 .
The strength of the returned energy is measured
and used to determine the range of the target. A
rotating antenna provides the directional
information such that the target can be displayed
on a screen.
Primary radar has its disadvantages; one of
which is that the amount of energy being
transmitted is very large compared with the
amount of energy reflected from the target. An
alternative method is secondary radar that
transmits a specific low energy signal (the
interrogation) to a known target. This signal is (b) DME transponder (right of photo)
analysed and a new (or secondary) reply signal, (photo courtesy of T. Diamond)
i.e. not a reflected signal, is sent back to the
origin, see Figure 1 1 .2(a). Secondary radar was Figure 1 1 .2 DME overview
1 42 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

developed during the Second World War to Referring to Figure l l .3(b) it can be seen that the
differentiate between friendly aircraft and ships: actual distance being measured by the
Identification Friend or Foe (IFF). The principles interrogator is the ' slant' range, i.e. not the true
of secondary radar now have a number of distance (horizontal range) over the ground. The
applications including distance measuring effects of slant range in relation to the horizontal
equipment (DME). range are greatest at high altitudes and/or when
the aircraft is close to the navigation aid. Taking
this to the limit, when the aircraft is flying over a
1 1 .2 DME overview '
DME navigation aid, it would actually be
measuring the aircraft's altitude!
The DME navigation aid contains a transponder
(receiver and transmitter) contained within a
single navigation aid, Figure l l .2(b). The aircraft
equipment radiates energy pulses to the DME
navigation aid; secondary signals are then
transmitted back to the aircraft. An on-board
interrogator measures the time taken for the
signals to be transmitted and received at the
aircraft. Since we know the speed of radio wave
propagation, the interrogator can calculate the
distance to the DME navigation aid. DME
navigation aids can either be self-contained
(a) Line of sight versus altitude
ground stations, or eo-located with a VOR
navigation aid, Figure 1 1 .2(c).
Since the system is 'line of sight', the altitude
of the aircraft will have a direct relationship with
the range that the system can be used, see Figure
1 1 .3(a). Using DME navigation aids imposes a
limit on the working range that can be obtained.
The maximum line-of-sight (LOS) distance
between an aircraft and the ground station is
given by the relationship:

d = uJh
where d is the distance in nautical miles, and h is (b) DME slant range
the altitude in feet above ground level (assumed
to be flat terrain). The theoretical LOS range for F igure 1 1 .3 DME range terminology .
altitudes up to 20,000 feet is given in Table 1 1 . 1 .

Test your understanding 1 1 .1

Table 1 1 .1 Theoretical LOS range What is the difference between primary and
secondary radar?
Altitude (feet) Range (nm)
1 00 10
1 000 32
000 0 Test your understanding 1 1 .2
5, 7
1 0 000 1 00 Distinguish between slant range and horizontal
20 ,000 141
Distance measuring equipment 1 43

1 1 .3 DME operation
The signals transmitted by the interrogator are a Commercial transport aircraft are usually fitted
pair of pulses, each of 3 .5 ms duration and I 2 ms with two independent DME systems, comprising
apart modulated on the DME navigation aid antennas and interrogators.
frequency. The interrogator generates a pulse-pair The DME antennas are L-band blades, located
repetition rate between 5 and I 50 pulse-pairs per on the underside of the aircraft fuselage, see
second. At the DME navigation aid, the Figure I I .4(a); note that the antenna is dual
transponder receives these pulses and, after a 50 purpose in that it is used for both transmitting and
ms time delay, transmits a new pair of pulses at a receiving.
frequency 63 MHz above or below the The interrogators are located in the equipment
interrogator's frequency. The aircraft ' s bays (Figure I l .4(b)) and provide three main
interrogator receives the pulses and matches the functions: transmitting, receiving and calculation
time interval between the transmitted pair of of distance to the selected navigation aid.
pulses. This ensures that other aircraft Transmission is in the range I 025 to I I 50 MHz;
interrogating the same DME navigation aid at the receiving is in the range 962 to I 2 1 5 MHz;
same time only process their own pulses. channel spacing is I MHz. The interrogator
By measuring the elapsed time between operates in several modes:
transmitting and receiving (and taking into
• Standby
account the 50 ms time delay) the interrogator
calculates the distance to the navigation aid.
• Search
DME is a line of sight system with a maximum • Track
range of approximately 200 nm; this equates to • Scan
approximately 2400 ms elapsed time taken for a • Memory
pair of pulses to be transmitted and received, • Fault
taking into account the 50 ms time delay in the • Self-test.
ground station. System accuracy is typically ±
When the system is first powered up, it enters the
0.5 urn, or 3% of the calculated distance,
standby mode; transmissions are inhibited, the
whichever is the greater.
receiver and audio are operative; the DME
display is four dashes to indicate no computed
data (NCD). The receiver monitors pulse-pairs
Test your understanding 1 1 .3 received from any local ground stations. If
sufficient pulse-pairs are counted, the interrogator
What is the typical accuracy and maximum range
enters the search mode. The transmitter now
of a
DME system?
transmits pulse-pairs and monitors any returns;
synchronous pulse-pairs are converted from time
into distance and the system enters the track
mode. Distance to the navigation aid will now be
Key point
displayed on the DME indicator (see Figure
The varying interval between pulse-pairs ensures I I .5). The scan mode has two submodes: directed
that the DME interrogator recognises its own scanning for multiple navigation aid tuning; up to
signals and rejects other signals. five stations can be scanned in accordance with a
predetermined area navigation auto-tuning
programme (described in more detail in Chapter
I 6). Alternatively, free scanning occurs for any
Key point DME navigation aids within range. If pulse-pairs
from any navigation aids are not received after a
DME is based on secondary radar; it operates in short period of time (two seconds typical), the
the L-band between 962 MHz and 1 2 1 5 MHz interrogator goes into memory mode whereby
(UHF) with channel spacing at 1 MHz. distance is calculated from the most recently
1 44 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Location of DME antennas

received pulse-pairs. Memory mode expires after

a short period of time, typically ten seconds, or
until pulse-pairs are received again. If the system
detects any fault conditions, the distance display
is blanked out. Self-test causes the system to run
through a predetermined sequence causing the
indicators to read: blank, dashes (NCD) and 0.0
DME outputs can be displayed in a variety of
ways, see Figure 1 1 .5 . These displays include
dedicated readouts, electronic flight instrument
systems (EFIS), combined panels/transceivers
(for general aviation) and radio distance magnetic
indicators (RDMI). When selecting a eo-located
VOR-DME navigation aid, the crew only needs
to tune into the VOR frequency; the DME
frequency is automatically selected.

(b) Location of DME transceiver Key point

Figure 1 1 .4 DME equipment When no computed data (NCO) is available this
condition is displayed as four dashes.

Key point

VOR and DME systems operate on different Test you r understand i ng 1 1 .4

frequencies. When they are eo-located, the DME
frequency is automatically selected when the pilot List and describe four modes in which a DME
tunes into the VOR fr!'lquency. interrogator can operate.
Distance measuring equipment 1 45

DME distance (nm)

(d) Electronic instrument-DME display

(a) Self-contained DME displays
Figure 1 1 .5 Various types of DME display

1 1 .5 En route navigation using radio

navigation aids

Basic en route navigation guidance for

commercial aircraft can be readily accomplished
using eo-located VOR and DME systems, thereby
providing rho-theta fixes from a single
navigation aid. The DME frequency is paired
with the VOR frequency; this means that only the
VOR frequency needs to be tuned, the DME
frequency is automatically tuned as a result.
Alternatively, rho-rho fixes can be established
from a pair of DME navigation aids. Note that
(b) DME panel/transceiver for general aviation
this produces an ambiguous fix unless another
DME is used, see Figure 1 1 .6. An example of

','x' \ '
DME transponder locations and eo-located VOR­
DME navigation aids in Switzerland is provided
in Table 1 1 .2.

- - - - - - - · · - ·· - .

I \


DME 1 ·--�· DME 2

. I
/ '.

""'/ ' · .....

(c) Rad io distance magnetic ind icator (RDMI) Figure 1 1 .6 Ambiguous DME-DME position
1 46 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Table 1 1 .2 Locations of VOR and DME

navigation aids in Switzerland

Name Identification code Type

Corvatsch CVA DME

Fribourg FRI VOR-DME
Geneva Cointrin GVA VOR·DME
Grenchen GRE VOR-DME
Hochwald HOC VOR-DME
Passeiry PAS VOR-DME
Trasadingen TRA VOR-DME
Willisau WIL VOR-DME
Zurich East ZUE VOR-DME Figure 1 1 .7 TACAN navigation aid

In the US, a combined rho-theta system was When eo-located with a VOR navigation aid,
introduced for military aircraft known as military and commercial aircraft can share the
T ACAN �tical �ir !!avigation). This system is a VORTAC facility. Referring to Figure 1 1 .8,
short-range bearing and distance navigation aid military aircraft obtain their distance and bearing
operating in the 962-1 2 1 5 MHz band. TACAN information from the TACAN part of the
navigation aids (see Figure 1 1 .7) are often eo­ VORTAC; commercial aircraft obtain their
located with VOR navigation aids; these are distance information from the TACAN, and
identified on navigation charts as 'VORTAC ' . bearing information from the VOR part of the
The TACAN navigation aid i s essentially a TACAN. Reporting points (shown as triangles)
DME transponder (using the same pulse pair and based on DME navigation aids, e.g. the
frequency principles as the standard DME) to VORT AC navigation aid located at Cambrai
which directional information has been added; (CMB), northern France, are illustrated in Figure
both operate in the same UHF band. An important 1 1 .9. The intersecting radials from navigation
feature of TACAN is that both distance and aids are used to define reporting points for en
bearing are transmitted on the same frequency; route navigation. These reporting points are
this offers the potential for equipment economies. given five-letter identification codes associated
Furthermore, because the system operates at a with their geographic location. For example, the
higher frequency than VOR, the antennas and reporting point 'HELEN' (at the top of the chart)
associated hardware can be made smaller. This is defined by a distance and bearing from the
has the advantage for military use since the Brussels VOR/DME navigation aid.
TACAN equipment can be readily transported TACAN frequencies are specified as channels
and operated from ships or other mobile that are allocated to specific frequencies, e.g.
platforms. Raleigh-Durham VORTAC in North Carolina,
Distance measuring equipment 1 47

Combined navigation aids

Figure 1 1 .8 VORT AC navigation aid and associated aircraft functions

?.�: NOB L607- ¥ Magnetic track

Route designator

-- 185 -"'
42 349--

""'"'"" Distance (nm)

� FIRIUIR FLSS ...__ Upper limit

1\ Compulsory
Lower limit

V TACAN U reporting point

Aerodrome/airport symbols

{) voRTAC .A. On-request

A reporting point
-c> -«)
Civil/military Military

Figure 1 1 .9 Reporting points defined by VOR-DME

1 48 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

USA, operates on channel 1 1 9X. This

corresponds to a:
• VOR frequency of 1 1 7.2 MHz
• DME interrogation frequency of 1 1 43 MHz
• DME reply frequency of 1 206 MHz
• Pulse code of 1 2 ms.
Note that since DME, VOR and VORTAC
navigation aids have to be located on land, the
airways ' network does not provide a great deal of
coverage beyond coastal regions.
Referring to Figure 1 1 . 1 0, a combination of
VOR, DME and VORTAC stations (see Figure
1 1 . 1 1 ) located in a number of European countries
provides a certain amount of navigation guidance Figure 1 1 . 1 1 Typical VOR-DM E navigation
in the North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea and North aid (photo courtesy T. Diamond)
Sea. This diagram asswnes a line-of-sight range
of approximately 200 nm. The gaps in this radio
navigation network can be overcome by the use
of alternative navigation systems including: Test your understanding 1 1 .5
inertial navigation (INS), Doppler, satellite
navigation and Loran-C, these are all described Explain what is meant by frequency pairing.
elsewhere in this book.

Figure 1 1 .1 0 Approximate max. line of sight navigation coverage for northern Europe
Distance measuring equipment 1 49

4. DME signals are transmitted:

Test your understanding 1 1 .6
(a) by line of sight
Describe two ways in which DME distance (b) as ground waves
information is displayed. (c) as sky waves.

5 . An RDMI provides the following information:

(a) distance and bearing to a navigation aid
(b) deviation from a selected course
Test your understanding 1 1 .7
(c) the frequency of the selected navigation
DME ground stations could be responding to aid.
numerous aircraft; how does the airborne DME
system recognise its own signals and reject 6. Slant range errors are greatest when the
signals intended for other aircraft? aircraft is flying at:
(a) high altitudes and close to the navigation
(b) high altitudes and far from the navigation
Test your understanding 1 1 .8 (c) low altitudes and far from the navigation
What information does an RDMI provide the
7. To select a eo-located VOR-DME navigation
aid, the crew tunes into the:
(a) DME frequency
(b) VOR frequency
Test your understanding 1 1 .9 (c) NDB frequency.

What type of information does a VORTAC 8. The DME interrogator is part of the:
(a) airborne equipment
(b) DME navigation aid

9. The varying interval between pulse-pairs

1 1 .6 Multiple choice questions ensures that the interrogator:
(a) recognises its own pulse-pairs and rejects
1. DME is based on what type of radar? other signals
(a) Primary (b) recognises other pulse-pairs and rejects its
(b) Secondary own signal
(c) VHF. (c) tunes into a VOR station and DME
navigation aid.
2. DME provides the following information to
the crew: 1 0. When a DME indicator is receiving no
(a) bearing to a navigation aid computed data, it will display:
(b) deviation from a selected course (a) dashes
(c) distance to a navigation aid. (b) zeros
(c) eights.
3. When tuned into a VORTAC, commercial
aircraft obtain their distance and bearing 1 1 . Using a collocated VOR-DME navigation aid
information from the: produces what type of position fix?
(a) TACAN and VOR (a) Rho-rho
(b) DME and VOR (b) Rho-theta
(c) DME and TACAN. (c) Theta-theta.
1 50 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 2 . Distance and bearing signals from a TACAN 1 7 . Referring to F igure 1 1 . 1 4, the installation on
navigation aid are transmjtted on: the right is a DME:
(a) H F (a) transponder
(b) U H F (b) transmitter
(c) VHF. (c) receiver.

1 3 . Using two DME navigation aids provides how

many calculated positions?
(a) two
(b) one
(c) three.

14. DME operates in which frequency band?

(a) UHF
(b) V H F
(c) LF/MF.

1 5 . The instrument shown in Figure 1 1 . 1 2 is

called the:
(a) RMI
(b) RDMI
( c ) CDT.

1 6. Referring to Figure 1 1 . 1 3, the display is

(a) maximum distance
(b) minimum distance
Figure 1 1 . 1 3 See Question 16
(c) no computed data.

Figure 1 1 . 1 2 See Question 15 Figure 1 1 . 1 4 See Question 17

I n stru ment l a n d i ng syste m

Navigation aids such as automatic direction finder the two systems are completely independent and
(ADF), VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) and work on totally different principles, they often
distance measuring equipment (DME) are used to share the same receiver. The two systems are
defme airways for en route navigation. They are differentiated by their frequency allocations
also installed at airfields to assist with approaches within this range. ILS frequencies are allocated to
to those airfields. These navigation aids cannot, the odd tenths of each 0.5 MHz increment, e.g.
however, be used for precision approaches and 1 09. 1 0 MHz, 1 09. 1 5 MHz, 1 09.30 MHz etc.
landings. The standard approach and landing VOR frequencies are allocated even tenths of
system installed at airfields around the world is each 0.5 MHz increment, e.g. 1 09.20 MHz,
the instrument landing system (ILS). The ILS 1 09.40 MHz, 1 09 60 MHz etc. Table 1 2 . 1
uses a combination of VHF and UHF radio waves provides an illustration o f how these frequencies
and has been in operation since 1 946. In this are allocated within the 1 09 MHz range. This
chapter we will look at ILS principles and pattern applies from 1 08 to 1 1 1 .95 MHz.
hardware in detail, concluding with how the ILS
combines with the automatic flight control system
(AFCS) to provide fully automatic approach and
landing. Table 1 2.1 Allocation of ILS and VOR

ILS frequency (MHz) VOR frequency (MHz)

The instrument landing system is used for the 1 09.00

final approach and is based on directional beams 1 09. 1 0
propagated from two transmitters at the airfield,
1 09. 1 5
see Figure 1 2. 1 . One transmitter (the glide slope)
provides guidance in the vertical plane and has a 1 09.20
range of approximately 1 0 nm. The second
1 09.30
transmitter (the localizer) guides the aircraft in
the horizontal plane. In addition to the directional 1 09.35
beams, two or three marker beacons are located at 1 09.40
key points on the extended runway centreline
defined by the localizer, see Figure 1 2.4. 1 09.50
1 09.55
1 09.60
2.2 ILS ground equipment
1 09.70
12.2. 1 Localizer transmitter 1 09.75
The localizer transmits in the VHF frequency 1 09.80
range, 1 08-1 1 2 MHz in 0.5 MHz increments.
1 09.90
Note that this is the same frequency range as used
by the VOR system (see Chapter 1 0). Although 1 09.95
1 52 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Final approach



(b) Glide slope

! Horizontal

(c) Localizer

Figure 1 2.1 ILS overview

The localizer antenna is located at the far end of

Key point
the runway, and transmits two lobes to the left
and right of the runway centreline modulated at The instrument landing system is based on
90 Hz and 1 50 Hz respectively. On the extended directional beams propagated from two
runway centreline, see Figure 1 2 .2, the combined transmitters at the airfield: localizer and glide
depth of modulation is equal. Either side of the slope.
centreline will produce a difference in depth of
modulation (DDM); this difference is directly
proportional to the deviation either side of the
extended centreline of the runway. The localizer Test your understanding 1 2. 1
also transmits a two or three letter Morse code
What frequency bands do the localizer and glide
identifier that the crew can hear on their audio
slope use?
Instrument landing system 1 53

(a) Localizer beams (plan view)

(b) Localizer antenna (viewed across the runway end)

(c) Localizer antenna (viewed down the runway)

Figure 1 2.2 Localizer beams and antenna

12.2.2 Glide slope antenna 1 2.2.3 Marker beacons

The glide slope antenna transmits in the UHF Two or three beacons are sited on the extended
frequency band, 328.6 to 335 MHz at 1 50 kHz runway centreline at precise distances; these are
spacing. Upper and lower lobes are modulated at specified in the approach charts for specific
90 HZ and 1 50 Hz respectively. When viewed runways. These beacons operate at 75 MHz and
from the side, see Figure 1 2.3, the two lobes radia�e approximately 3-4 W of power. The
overlap and produce an approach path inclined at beacons provide visual and audible cues to the
a fixed angle between 2 . 5 and 3 .5 degrees. Glide crew to confirm their progress on the ILS, see
slope frequency is automatically selected when Figure 1 2 .4. The outer marker is located
the crew tunes the localizer frequency. between four and seven miles from the runway
1 54 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Run way

(a) Glide slope beams (b) Glide slope antenna

Figure 1 2.3 Glide slope beams and antenna

Inner Middle Outer

1 050 m
1.. �I
I 3.9 nm

(a) I LS marker beacons

Cyan Yellow White



0 0 0


LCC 0 0 0 0 LNAV

Outer marker Middle marker Inner marker

(b) Marker beacon indications (primary flying display)

Figure 1 2.4 I LS marker beacon system

Instrument landing system 1 55

threshold; it transmits Morse code dashes at a electronic displays) is illuminated. The marker
tone frequency of 400 Hz and illuminates a blue beacon system is currently being phased out with
light (or cyan 'OM ' icon for electronic displays) the introduction of DME and GPS approaches.
when the aircraft passes over the beacon.
The outer marker provides the approximate
point at which an aircraft on the localizer will 1 2.3 1LS airborne equipment
intercept the glide slope. Some airfields use non­
directional beacons (NDBs) in conjunction with The airborne equipment comprises localizer and
(or in place) of the outer marker. These are glide slope antennas, ILS receiver, marker
referred to as locator beacons (compass locator receiver, and flight deck controls and displays.
in the USA). Most aircraft are fitted with two or three
The middle marker is located approximately independent I LS systems (typically named left,
3500 feet from the runway threshold. When centre and right). The localizer and glide slope
passing over the middle marker, the crew receive frequencies are in different wave bands, the crew
an alternating Morse code of dots/dashes tunes the localizer frequency (via the 'Nav'
modulated at 1 300 Hz and a corresponding amber control panel) and this automatically tunes a
light (or yellow 'MM' icon for electronic paired glide slope frequency for a particular
displays) is illuminated. The middle marker runway.
coincides with the aircraft being 200 feet above
the runway touchdown point.
1 2.3.1 Antennas
Runways that are used for low visibility
approach and landings (see later in this chapter) The typical ILS antenna installation on a transport
have a third inner marker. When passing over aircraft is illustrated in Figure 1 2. 5 . In this
the inner marker, the crew receive Morse code installation, two dual chatmel antennas are used
dots modulated at 3000 Hz on the audio system for localizer and two dual channel antennas for
and a corresponding white light (or ' I M ' icon for the glide slope. One channel from each of the

Figure 1 2.5 ILS antennas-glide slope and localizer

1 56 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

antennas is not used; the received signals are fed

to the corresponding ILS receiver.

1 2.3.2 Receivers
ILS receivers are often combined with other radio
navigation functions, e.g. VHF omni-range
(VOR); these are located in the avionic
equipment bay, see F igure 1 2.6. ILS receivers are
based on the super-heterodyne principle with
remote tuning from the control panel. The signal
received from the localizer antenna is modulated
with 90 and 1 50 Hz tones for left/right deviation;
a 1 020 Hz tone contains the navigation aid
identification in Morse code. Filters in the ILS
receiver separate out the 90 and 1 50 Hz tones for
both localizer and glide slope. The identification
signal is integrated with the audio system.
The marker beacon function IS often
incorporated with other radio navigation
receivers, e.g. a combined VOR and marker
beacon unit as illustrated in Figure 1 2 .6(b ). The
marker beacon receiver filters out the 75 MHz
tone and sends the signal to an RF amplifier.
Three bandpass filters are then employed at 400
Hz, 1 300 Hz and 3000 Hz to identify the specific
marker beacon. The resulting signals are sent to
an audio amplifier and then integrated into the
audio system. Discrete outputs drive the visual (a) I LS receivers
warning lights (or PFD icons).

1 2.3.3 Controls and displays

A control panel typically located on the centre
pedestal, see Figure 1 2 .7(a), is used to select
the runway heading and ILS frequency.
Alternatively, it can be a combined navigation/
controller and display as shown in Figure 1 2.7(b).
Outputs from the marker receiver are sent to three
indicator lights (or PFD icons) and the crew' s
audio system a s described i n the previous section.
Typical electromechanical displays are
provided by an omni-bearing indicator or course .
deviation indicator (CDI), see Figure 1 2 . 8(a). The
omni-bearing selector is used to rotate the course
card. This card is calibrated from 0 to 360° and
(b) Combined VOR/marker beacon receiver
indicates the selected runway heading. In F igure
1 2 . 8(a), a runway heading of 1 82° has been
selected. Each dot on the scale represents a 2°
deviation from the selected runway heading. A Figure 1 2.6 VHF/navigation receivers
Instrument landing system 1 57

shown in Figure l 2 .8(b). The course selector

( lower right-hand side of instrument) is set to the
desired runway heading. Figure l 2 .8(c) illustrates
ILS information on the electronic horizontal
situation indicator (EHSI). The two/three letter
Morse code identifier is sent to the audio system
to allow the crew to confirm their selected ILS
A pointer moves left/right over a deviation
scale to display lateral guidance information. The
glide slope deviation pointer moves up/down over
a scale to indicate vertical deviation. The strength
of the 90 Hz and 1 50 Hz tones is summed to
confirm the presence of the localizer and glide
slope transmissions; this summed output is
(a) I LS control panel (centre pedestal)
displayed in the form of a ' flag'. If either of the
two transmissions is not present, the warning flag
is displayed.

Key point

ILS frequencies are selected by tuning the

localizer, which automatically selects the glide

Key point
(b) Navigation and communications unit The marker beacon system is being phased out
and replaced by GPS/DME approaches.
Figure 1 2.7 I LS control panels

second pointer displays glide slope deviation. Key point

Two flags are used to indicate when the:
The ILS glide slope is inclined at a fixed angle
• localizer and/or glide slope signals are between 2.5 and 3.5 degrees from the ground.
beyond reception range
• pilot has not selected an ILS frequency
• ILS system is turned off, or is inoperative.
Note that this type of indicator can also be used
with the VOR navigation system; refer to Chapter Test your understanding 1 2.2
10 for a detailed description of this feature. An Where are the localizer and glide slope antennas
updated version of this instrument is the COl; this located?
has a compass display and course selector as
1 58 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) Omni-bearing indicator (b) Course deviation indicator

Localizer deviation scale

Distance display

Heading display
Glide slope
deviation pointer

Selected runway
heading pointer
Glide slope
deviation scale

Aircraft symbol
Localizer deviation

Data source annunciator ILS tuned frequency

(c) Electronic display of ILS

Figure 1 2.8 ILS d isplays

Instrument landing system 1 59

12.4 Low range radio altimeter

The low range radio altimeter (LRRA) is a self­

contained vertically directed primary radar
system operating in the 4.2 to 4.4 GHz band.
Airborne equipment comprises a transmitting/
receiving antenna, LRRA transmitter/receiver and
a flight deck i ndicator. Most aircraft are fitted
with two independent systems. Radar energy is
directed via a transmitting antenna to the ground;
some of this energy is reflected back from the
ground and is collected in the receiving antenna,
see Figure 1 2.9.
Two types of LRRA methods are used to
(a) Low range radio altimeter
determine the aircraft's radio altitude. The pulse
modulation method measures the elapsed time
Decision height
taken for the signal to be transmitted and readout (green)
received; this time delay is directly proportional
to altitude. The frequency modulated, continuous
wave (FM/CW) method uses a changeable FM
signal where the rate of change is fixed. A
proportion of the transmitted signal is mixed with F
the received signal; the resulting beat signal
frequency is proportional to altitude. 0
Radio altitude
0 (white or blank
Radio altitude is either displayed on a s
above 2500 ft.)
dedicated instrument, or incorporated into an ! AS

electronic display, see Figure 1 2.9. Note that tb� 0 0 � 0 0

radio altitude used for approach and landing i s

only indicated from 2,500 feet. The decision
height is selected during ILS approaches and
(b) Radio altimeter display (electronic

Test your understanding 1 2.3

What type of radar system is used for the low
range radio altimeter (LRRA)?

Test your understanding 1 2.4

(a) When flying overhead I LS marker beacons,
what indications are provided to the crew?

(b) What is the preferred sequence to capture the

localizer and glide slope?
(c) Radio altimeter display
(c) What are the decision heights for Category 1 ,
2 and 3 landings?
Figure 1 2.9 LRRA system
1 60 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 2.5 ILS approach 1 2.6 Autoland

The normal procedure is to capture the localizer The development of airborne and ground
first and then the glide slope. The crew select the equipment, together with crew training led to
ILS frequency on the navigation control panel as trials being carried out on the effectiveness and
described above. Runway heading also needs to reliability of fully automatic landings using the
be sent to the ILS receiver; the way of achieving ILS. In 1 947, the Blind Landing Experimental
this depends on the avionic fit of the aircraft. Unit (B LEU) was established within the UK's
Desired runway heading can either be selected on Royal Aircraft Establishment. The world's first
a CDI, or via a remote selector located on a fully automatic landing was achieved in 1 950.
separate control panel. Deviation from the Equipment and procedures were further developed
localizer and glide slope is monitored throughout leading to the world's first automatic landing in a
the approach, together with confirmation of passenger carrying aircraft (the HS 1 2 1 Trident) in
position from the marker beacons. The ILS can be July 1 965.
used to guide the crew on the approach using Automatic approach and landings are
instruments when flying in good visibility. ln the categorised by the certifying authorities as a
event that visibility is not good, then the approach function of ground equipment, airborne
is flown using the automatic flight control system equipment and crew training. The categories are
(AFCS). The crew select localizer and glide slope quoted in terms of decision height (DH) and
as the respective roll and pitch modes on the runway visual range (RVR). These categories are
AFCS mode control panel (MCP), see Figure summarised in Table 1 2. 1 ; JAR OPS provides
1 2. 1 0. With approved ground and airborne further details and notes. Category 3 figures
equipment, qualified crew can continue the depend on aircraft type and airfield equipment,
approach through to an automatic landing. To e.g. quality of ILS signals and runway lighting
complete an automatic landing (autoland) the (centreline, edges, taxi ways etc.).
pitch and roll modes need precise measurement of An operator has to have approval from the
altitude above the ground; this is provided by the regulatory authorities before being permitted to
low range radio altimeter (LRRA). operate their aircraft with automatic Category 2

Figure 1 2. 1 0 AFCS mode control panel (LOC/GS modes)

Instrument landing system 161

Table 1 2.2 Automatic approach and landing adjacent to the touchdown point on the runway, it
categories departs from the straight-line guidance path
below 1 00 feet. The approach continues with
Category OH RVR (min) RVR (max) radio altitude/descent rate being the predominant
control input into the pitch channel. At
200' 550 m 1 000 m approximately 50 feet, the throttles are retarded
2 1 00' 300 m and the aircraft descent rate and airspeed are
reduced by the 'flare' mode, i.e. a gradual nose­
3A < 1 00' 200 m
up attitude that is maintained until touchdown.
38 <50' 75 m The final pitch manoeuvre is to put the nose of
the aircraft onto the runway. Lateral guidance is
3C None <75 m
still provided by the localizer at this point until
such time as the crew take control of the aircraft.
and 3 approach and landings. This applies in
particular to Category 3 decision heights.
Automatic approaches are usually made by first 1 2.7 Operational aspects of I LS
capturing the localizer (LOC) and then capturing
the glide slope (GS), see Figure 1 2 . 1 1 . The ILS remains installed throughout the world and is
localizer is intercepted from a heading hold mode the basis of automatic approach and landing for
on the automatic flight control system (AFCS), many aircraft types. Limitations of ILS are the
with LOC armed on the system. The active pitch single approach paths from the glide slope and
mode at this point will be altitude hold, with the localizer; this can be a problem for airfields
GS mode armed. located in mountainous regions. Furthermore, any
Once established on the localizer, the glide vehicle or aircraft approaching or crossing the
slope is captured and becomes the active pitch runway can cause a disturbance to the localizer
mode. The approach continues with deviations beam, which could be interpreted by the airborne
from the centreline and glide slope being sensed equipment as an unreliable signal. This often
by the ILS receiver; these deviations are sent to causes an AFCS channel to disconnect with the
roll and pitch channels of the AFCS, with possibility of a missed approach. The local terrain
sensitivity of pitch and roll modes being modified can also have an effect on ILS performance, e.g.
by radio altitude. The auto throttle controls multipath errors can be caused by reflections of
desired airspeed. Depending on aircraft type, two the localizer; the three-degree glide slope angle
or three AFCS channels will be engaged for fully may not be possible in mountainous regions or in
automatic landings thus providing levels of cities with tall buildings. These limitations led to
redundancy in the event of channel disconnects. the development of the microwave landing
Although the glide slope antenna is located system (MLS); see Chapter 1 3.

Intercepting the localizer G)

AIL 2500 ft.

lntercepUng the glide slope

All. 300 ft.

- <r.:-
- --


Middle marker

0- marker

Glide slope antenna

Figure 1 2.1 1 Automatic approach and landing

1 62 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

7. The ILS glide slope is inclined at a fixed angle

Key point between:
When the aircraft has touched down with an (a) 2.5 and 3.5 degrees
automatic landing, the ILS continues to provide (b) zero and 2.5 degrees
lateral control via the localizer. (c) 2.5 degrees and above.

8. The glide slope is characterised by two lobes

(a) 90 Hz above, 1 50 H z below the glide slope
1 2.8 Multiple choice questions
(b) 1 50 Hz above, 90 Hz below the glide slope
l . Frequency bands for ILS are: angle
(a) localizer (UHF) and glide slope (VHF) (c) equally either side of the glide slope angle.
(b) localizer (VHF) and glide slope (VHF)
(c) localizer (VHF) and glide slope (UHF). 9. Marker beacons transmit on which frequency?
(a) 75 MHz
2. Localizer transmitters are located: (b) 1 300 Hz
(a) at the threshold of the runway, adj acent to (c) 400 Hz.
the touchdown point
(b) at the stop end of the runway, on the 1 0. With three marker beacons installed in an I LS
centre line system, they will be encountered along the
(c) at three locations on the extended approach as:
centreline of the runway. (a) outer, middle, inner
(b) inner, middle, outer
3 . The LRRA provides: (c) outer, inner, middle.
(a) deviation from the runway centreline
(b) deviation from the glide path angle l l . Marker beacon outputs are given by:
(c) altitude in feet above the ground. (a) coloured lights and M orse code tones
(b) deviations from the runway centre line
4. Some airfields use NDBs in conjunction with (c) deviations from the glide slope.
(or in place of) the:
(a) localizer 1 2. The decision height and runway visual range
(b) glide slope for a Category 2 automatic approach are:
(c) outer marker. (a) 1 00 ft. and 300 m respectively
(b) 200 ft. and 550 m respectively
5. When viewed from the antenna, the localizer (c) less than 1 00 ft. and 200 m
is characterised by two lobes modulated: respectively.
(a) 90 Hz to the right, 1 50 Hz to the left of the
centreline ·
1 3 . The outer. marker is displayed on the primary
(b) 1 50 Hz to the right, 90 Hz to the left of the flying display as a coloured icon that is:
centrel ine (a) yellow
(c) equally either side of the centreline. (b) white
(c) cyan.
6. ILS frequencies are selected by tuning:
(a) the glide slope which automatically selects 14. When the aircraft has touched down with an
the localizer automatic landing, the ILS continues to
(b) the localizer which automatically selects provide:
the glide slope (a) lateral control via the localizer
(c) the localizer and glide slope frequencie� (b) lateral control via the: glide slope
independently. (c) vertical control via the LRRA.
Chapter M i crowave l a n d i n g syste m

The microwave landing system (MLS) was 1 3.2 MLS principles

adopted in 1 978 as the long-term replacement for
instrument landing systems (ILS). The system is The system is based on the principle of time
based on the principle of time referenced referenced scanning beams and operates in the C­
scanning beams and provides preciSion band at 5 GHz. Two directional fan-shaped
navigation guidance for approach and landing. beams are used for azimuth and elevation
MLS provides three-dimensional approach guidance. The azimuth approach transmitter is
guidance, i.e. azimuth, eleva[ion and range. The located at the stop end of the runway; the
system provides multiple approach angles for elevation transmitter is located near the threshold
both azimuth and elevation guidance. Despite the of the runway. Azimuth scanning is through ±40°
advantages of MLS, it has not yet been either side of the runway centreline with a range
introduced on a worldwide basis for commercial of 20 nm, see Figure 1 3 .2(a). An expansion
aircraft. Military operators of MLS often use capability can extend azimuth coverage to ±60°,
mobile equipment that can be deployed within but with a reduced range of 1 4 nm. Elevation
hours. In this chapter, we will review MLS scanning sweeps over an angle of 1 5 degrees
principles and discuss its advantages over the (with 20 degrees as an option) providing
ILS. coverage up to 20,000 feet, see F igure 1 3.2(b).
At the aircraft receiver, a pulse is detected each
time the respective beams sweep past the aircraft.
Consider an aircraft on the approach as illustrated
in Figure 1 3. 3 . The (azimuth) time referenced
MLS was introduced to overcome a number of scanning beam sweeps from left to right ( 'TO'),
problems and limitations associated with ILS. and then returns from right to left ( 'FRO'). If the
The principle of MLS allows curved, or aircraft is in position A, it is to the left of the
segmented approaches in azimuth together with centreline and will receive a pulse at time interval
selectable glide slope angles. All of these features t1 as the beam sweeps 'TO', and then at time 12
are beneficial in mountainous regions, or for when the beam sweeps ' FRO'. The two pulses
environmental reasons, e.g. over residential areas are therefore close together with the aircraft to
of a town or city. MLS installations are not the left of centreline. If the aircraft were in
affected by ground vehicles or taxiing aircraft position B, i.e. to the right of the centreline, it
passing through the beam as with the localizer. would receive pulses at 13 and t4 due to the
Aircraft making an approach using ILS in low relative position of the aircraft.
visibility have to maintain sufficient separation to The aircraft receiver in a given aircraft will
preserve the integrity of the localizer beams; with interpret the timing of each pulse, in terms of
MLS, this separation is not required. The when they occurred and the time difference
combination of all these features allows for between each pulse. These pulse timings provide
increased air traffic control flexibil ity and higher a precise position fix for the aircraft with respect
take-off and landing rates for a given airfield. to the runway centreline. Elevation guidance is
Two ground transmitters provide azimuth and calculated in the same way as in azimuth, except
elevation guidance; these scanning beams extend that the beam is scanning up and down. Timing
the coverage for an approach compared with the signals are referenced to a selected elevation
ILS, see Figure 1 3 . 1 . approach angle.
1 64 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

(a) ILS coverage

Back azimuth


7 nm

Elevation scan beam

( )
b MLS coverage

Figure 1 3.1 Comparison of I LS/MLS coverage

Key point Key point

MLS was introduced to overcome a number of MLS is based on the principle of time referenced
problems and limitations associated with ILS. The scanning beams; two ground transmitters provide
scanning principle of MLS allows curved, or azimuth and elevation guidance. MLS operates at
segmented approaches in azimuth together with around 5 GHz in the C-band.
selectable glide slope angles.

Key point Key point

MLS installations are not affected by ground Locations of the MLS ground equipment are not
vehicles or taxiing aircraft passing through the as critical as with ILS; this is particularly useful in
beam as with the localizer. mountainous regions.
Microwave landing system 1 65

', I

- - - - - - --
------ --

20 nm
(a) Azimuth scanning
(a) The pulses are close together

,j - - - - - -
on this side of the beam
' 1
' ' , ,, 20,000'
', I
-- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ---- - -��

(b) Elevation scanning

Figure 1 3.2 MLS azimuth and elevation

(b) The pulses are further apart
on this side of the beam

Key point Figure 1 3.3 Time referenced M LS scanning

MLS installations are not affected by ground
vehicles or taxiing aircraft passing through the
beam as with the localizer. Test your understanding 1 3.2

In what frequency band does M L S operate?

Test your u nderstanding 1 3. 1

Explain the principle of operation of the time Test your understanding 1 3.3
referenced azimuth scanning beam used in the
MLS. What range and altitude does MLS cover?
1 66 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 3.3 Aircraft equipment Table 1 3.2 CMA-2000 m icrowave landing

system leading particulars
The aircraft is fitted with two antennas located on
the nose and aft centrelines. An MLS receiver
(often incorporated into a multi-mode receiver Feature Specification
with ILS, marker beacon and VOR capability) is Range/channels 200 channels in C-band
tuned into one of 200 channels and calculates (5031 to 5090.7 M Hz)
azimuth and elevation guidance as described. Control unit weight 6.7 kg
The receiver operates in the frequency range
CDU weight 1 .4 kg
503 1 MHz to 5091 MHz with 300 kHz spacing.
Referring to Figure 1 3 .4 and Table 1 3 . 1 , the pulse Power supply 1 1 5 V AC, 400 Hz,
timing is used to determine the three aircraft 60 VA nominal
positions. Control unit 8086, 1 28 kbyte EPROM,
An integral part of the MLS is a distance microprocessor 64 kbyte RAM
measuring equipment (DME) system to provide Range Up to 40 nm
range; this can either be a conventional DME
Azimuth range 0° through 360°
system as described in Chapter 1 1 , or a dedicated
system operating in the 962 MHz to 1 1 05 MHz Elevation range 2° to 29.5" (in increments of
frequency range. DME frequencies are
automatically tuned with the azimuth and Resolution o.oo5°
elevation beams to provide range information. Sensitivity - 1 06 dBm
Typical MLS airborne equipment is illustrated
Dynamic range 95 dB
by the CMA-2000 system, Figure 1 3 .5 (data and
image courtesy of CMC E lectronics). This system Digital interfaces ARINC 429 and Mll-STD-
1 5538
is installed on a number of military aircraft in the
USA including the C- 1 30 and Air Force One. Analogue interfaces Synchro, DC voltages
Control of the MLS is via a control display unit Navigation aids DME tuning, frequency tuning
(CDU), where the crew selects the desired MLS
channel , together with azimuth and glide path
approach angles. The system meets the
requirements of ARINC 727 and provides three­ Test your understanding 1 3.4
dimensional positional data within a large
airspace volume. How many MLS channels are available?
Azimuth and glide path guidance outputs are
either displayed on a conventional course
deviation indicator (CDI) or incorporated into
multipurpose electronic displays. A summary of
the CMA-2000 microwave landing system Test your understanding 1 3.5
leading particulars is given in Table 1 3 .2.
What frequency range does M L S use?

Table 1 3.1 Azimuth angle relationship

Aircraft position TO scan FRO scan Difference Angle (+ is left)

A 6.6 ms 1 1 .5 ms 4.9 ms +20°

B 5.7 ms 1 2.2 ms 6.3 ms

c 3.6 ms 1 4.2 ms 1 0.6 ms -40°

Microwave landing system 1 67


I \
I \
I \
+40° ---------------

� A
------ ,)"::l. -1-<0o

:7� ----E� ((

- - - - - - -



I \
I '
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Time (ms) from the start of transmission

Figure 1 3.4 Relationship between transmissions a nd position of aircraft

Figure 1 3.5 MLS a irborne equ ipment (courtesy of CMC electronics)

1 68 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1 3.4 Ground equipment Key point

The items of ground equipment needed for MLS
Despite the advantages of MLS, it has not yet
are the azimuth and elevation transmitters and a been introduced on a worldwide basis for
DME navigation aid. This basic system can be commercial aircraft. The military use mobile
expanded to provide lateral guidance for missed equipment that can be deployed within hours.
approaches. Both azimuth and elevation
transmissions are radiated on the same frequency
with a time-sharing arrangement.
In addition to guidance, the MLS also transmits
data to system users. Basic data includes runway
Test your understanding 1 3.6
identification (four-letter Morse code), together
Explain why MLS can be advantageous for use in
with locations and performance levels of the mountainous areas or in areas of high population.
azimuth, elevation transmitters and the DME
transponder. The exe:,anded data transmission
provides runway conditions and meteorological
data, e.g. visibility, cloud base, barometric
Test your understanding 1 3.7
pressures, wind speed/direction and any wind
shear conditions. How does the MLS provide range to the runway?
Locations of the ground equipment are not as
critical as with ILS; this is particularly useful in
mountainous regions. Military users of MLS take
advantage of this by have mobile systems that can
be deployed within hours. The azimuth Test your understanding 1 3.8
transmitter has an accuracy of ±4 metres at the
Why does MLS provide more air traffic control
runway threshold. The elevation transmitter has flexibility?
an accuracy of ±0.6 metres. The dedicated DME
navigation aid has a range accuracy of 1 00 feet. A
variety of approach patterns is possible with MLS
as illustrated in Figure 1 3 .6.
1 3�6 M ultiple choice questions
1 3.5 M LS summary 1 . MLS azimuth and elevation transmitters
operate in which frequency band?
Despite the advantages of MLS, it has not yet (a) 5 GHz
been introduced on a worldwide basis for (b) 962 MHz to 1 1 05 MHz
commercial aircraft. The advent and development (c) 1 08 MHz to 1 1 2 MHz.
of global navigation satellite systems (Chapter
1 9) has led to the reality of precision approaches 2. What are the angular extremes for azimuth
and automatic landings being made under the guidance either side of the runway c·entreline
guidance of satellite navigation systems during in a basic MLS installation?
low visibility; however, this is not likely to be (a) ±60°
available for some time. Since MLS technology is
(b) ±40°
already available, a number of European airlines
(c) + 1 5° to +20°.
have been lobbying for MLS; ground equipment
has been installed at a number of airports
3. What are the elevation guidance limits for an
including London Heathrow and Toulouse
MLS installation?
Blagnac for development purposes. The reader is
(a) ±60°
encouraged to monitor the industry press for
(b) + l 5° to +20°
developments of this subject.
(c) ±40°.
Microwave landing system 1 69


(a) Segmented approach capability


(b) Curved approach capability

Figure 1 3.6 MLS approach patterns

4. MLS range information is provided by the: 6. How many MLS channels are available:
(a) azimuth transmitter (a) 40
(b) DME navigation aid (b) 300
(c) elevation transputter. (c) 200.

5. Time referenced scanning beams are used in 7. During an MLS approach, deviation in
the MLS to provide: azimuth and elevation is displayed on the:
(a) range to the airfield (a) HSI
(b) azimuth and elevation guidance (b) RMI
(c) altitude above the terrain. (c) CDU.
1 70 Aircraft com mu nications and navigation systems

8. The elevation approach angle for an approach

is selected by:
(a) air traffic control using the ground
(b) flight crew using the CDU
(c) flight crew using the HSI.

9. With increasing elevation approach angles,

slant range to the airfield will:
(a) increase
(b) decrease
(c) stay the same.

I 0. MLS ground equipment identification codes

are provided by:
(a) two Morse code characters
(b) three Morse code characters
Figure 1 3.7 See Question 11
(c) four Morse code characters.

1 1 . Referring to Figure 1 3 .7, pulses !1 and !2 are

(a) range to the runway
(b) elevation guidance
(c) azimuth guidance.

1 2. Referring to Figure 1 3.8, the scanning is

providing guidance in:
(a) range
(b) azimuth '
(c) elevation. '
' I
----- - ----- -- -- --- ---- -- �

20 nm

F igure 1 3.8 See Question 12

H yperb o l i c rad io navigation

Hyperbolic radio navigation systems provide

l l
medium to long-range position flX capabilities
and can be used for en route operations over
oceans and unpopulated areas. Several hyperbolic 'Baseline'

systems have been developed since the 1 940s, Secondary Master

station station
including Decca, Omega and Loran. The
operational use of Omega and Decca navigation (a) Baseline between master and secondary station

systems ceased in 1 997 and 2000 respectively.

Loran-C systems are still very much available

l� �=
today as stand-alone en route navigation systems;
they are also being proposed as a complementary
navigation aid for global navigation satellite
systems. The principles of hyperbolic radio
� Pulsed wav
Secondary Master
navigation are described in this chapter together station station
with specific details for Loran-C. The (b) Pulses transmitted from the master station form a concentric pattern
development of enhanced Loran (eLoran) is around the transmitter

discussed at the end of this chapter.

-Fe � �
... ... __ --

1 4. 1 H,ype�lic pc:»sition fixing

The principles of hyperbolic position fixing can Secondary Master

station station
be illustrated in Figure 1 4 . 1 . Two radio stations A
and B are located at a known distance apart; the (c) When the first wave is received at the secondary station a pulse is
transmitted from the secondary station after a fixed time delay
imaginary line joining them is referred to as the
baseline, Figure 1 4 . 1 (a). Station A is the master
and station B is the secondary. The master Figure 1 4. 1 Hyperbolic navigation principles
station transmits pulses at regular intervals; these
. pulses, represented by concentric circles in Figure
1 4. 1 (b), reach the secondary station after a fixed series of pulses (represented by the solid lines) is
period of time (determined by the propagation radiating from the master station A at a rate of
speed of the radio wave). When the secondary one thousand pulses per second, i.e. at intervals
station receives the master station's first pulse, of 1 ms. The first pulse reaches the secondary
the secondary station transmits its own pulse after station B depending on the distance to the station,
a fixed time delay, as shown in Figure 1 4. 1 (c). e.g. after 7 ms. The secondary station transmits
This is a continuous process, with pulses its response after a predetermined delay, e.g. 1
transmitted by the master station at fixed ms. This is represented by the dashed circle
intervals, and the secondary station replying after number 8, i.e. it is transmitted after the 7 ms
a fixed delay period. travel time and 1 ms fixed delay. The radiated
The radiated pulses begin to overlap as the pulses from both stations form a pattern of
waves radiate away from their respective stations intersecting pulses. Examine the timing
as illustrated in Figure 1 4.2. In this illustration, a differences between the intersecting circles on
1 72 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

lines X, Y and Z. It can be seen that the time

difference between the secondary and master
pulses occurs at:
• 2 ms anywhere on line X
• 4 ms anywhere on line Y
• 6 ms anywhere on line Z.

The intersection of two pulses with the same time ®

delay anywhere on this pattern can be used to
determine a line of position (LOP). These points
can be plotted to form unique curves known as
hyperbolae. The foci of the hyperbolae are at each
of the transmitters. Each hyperbola provides a
LOP related to the time delay between receiving
master and secondary pulses. Since there are two
positions on any given hyperbola, a third (or
fourth) secondary station will provide a unique
position fix as illustrated in Figure 1 4.3. In this
case, the three hyperbolae generated by stations Figure 1 4.� Using three stations to define a
A, B and C only intersect in one place. unique position fix

- -

- - -

F igure 1 4.2 Lines of position (this example illustrates a 7 ms travel time from A to B, with a
1 ms time delay at transmitter B)
Hyperbolic radio navigation 1 73

14.2 Loran overview 1 4.3 Loran-C operation

Loran is an acronym for long range Qavigation, a Loran-C chains are organised in a master and
system based on hyperbolic radio navigation. The secondary configuration. Each master has at least
system was developed during the 1 940s as Loran­ two associated secondary stations; in some cases
A and has undergone many developments; the there are five secondary stations in the chain. The
current version is Loran-C. Operating in the LF elapsed time between receiving pulses from the
frequency range of 90-1 1 0 kHz, the system master station and two or more secondary stations
comprises ground transmitters and monitoring is used to determine a unique position. Pulses are
stations. The Loran-C system has a typical range formed as variable amplitude sine waves with a
of up to I 000 nm and an accuracy of better than fixed frequency; the pulse duration is 270 ms
0.25 nm (460 metres) in the defined coverage representing 27 cycles of the 1 00 kHz carrier
areas. Transmitters are grouped together in wave as illustrated in Figure 1 4.5. This unique
'chains' thus providing a two-dimensional pulse provides a recognisable signal and ensures
position fixing capability. The patterns are that the majority of the pulse's bandwidth is
formed in various ways by master and confined to the frequency range of 90-1 1 0 kHz.
secondary stations as illustrated in Figure 1 4.4. The intention for a Loran-C system is to only
use ground waves for navigation purposes; sky
waves are filtered out with pulse timing
techniques. The approximate time taken for a
transmitted wave to reflect off the ionosphere is
30 ms; since the pulse duration is 270 ms some of
the transmitted pulse can be expected to be
reflected from the ionosphere. To avoid this, a
specific peak within the pulse is selected as the
indexing pulse. This is the third peak within the
pulse, and represents approximately 50% of the
maximum amplitude.
Signals are transmitted from the master station
as a group of nine pulses; secondary stations
s s
transmit eight pulses, see Figure 1 4.6. Groups of
pulses from each of the chains are transmitted
within the range of 1 0-25 groups per second.
Each pulse is spaced at 1 ms intervals, the ninth
pulse from the master station occurs after a 2 ms
delay. The specific timing interval of the group of
pulses (starting and finishing with the master
pulses) is referred to as the group repetition
interval, or GRI. This time interval is used as the

Sampling point
SO�mplitude - - -

3 cycles
30 �·

Figure 1 4.4 Loran-C master/secondary

stations forming chains Figure 1 4.5 Loran-C pulse format
1 74 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Master Secondary A Secondary B Master

9 pulses 8 pulses 8 pulses 9 pulses

111111111 11111111 11111111 11111111

14l, r-
_____ 5_
o_ _ __
_ --1 � :: � r-- -�-+1s

____ >5
_ 0o_
6_ �'_
Values for stations
600 nm apart

Figure 1 4.6 Loran-C pulse transmission format

basis of identifying the chain, e.g. a chain with

GRI of 99,600 microseconds is identified as Key point
'9960' .
The Loran-C system uses ground waves at low
The first group o f nine pulses from the master
frequencies. lt has a typical range of up to 1 000
station is received at different times by each of nm with an accuracy of 0.25 nm. Transmitters are
the secondary stations due to the varying baseline grouped together in 'chains' thus providing a two­
distances between respective stations. The dimensional position fixing capability.
secondary stations transmit their pulse groups
after predetermined time delays, referred to as the
coding delay. The total time for the pulse to
travel over the baseline together with the
secondary station's coding delay is called the
emission delay. Key point
Operational aspects associated with Loran-C
include: Loran-C chains all transmit at 1 00 kHz, i.e. there
is no need to tune the receiver to a specific
• Electromagnetic interference affecting the chain.
signal, e.g. from power lines
• Loss of one station affects the area of
• Local weather conditions (particularly
electrical storms) affecting the signal.
Key point
In addition to master and secondary stations,
monitoring stations are deployed to sample the The elapsed time between receiving pulses
chain's signal strength, timing and pulse shape. from the master station and two or more
secondary stations is used to determine a unique
In the event that any of these are outside a
specified limit an alert signal, known as a blink,
is coded into the pulse groupings.

Key point Key point

Loran is an acronym for !Qng range navigation, The operational use of Omega and Decca
a system based on hyperbolic radio navigation. hyperbolic navigation systems ceased in 1 997
and 2000 respectively.
Hyperbolic radio navigation 1 75

Table 1 4. 1 Loran-C chains (source USCG)

Master location; number of secondary

Master and secondary transmitting stations are
located at strategic places to provide the required
geometry for obtaining navigation information. Canadian East Coast Caribou, Maine; three secondary
Transmitter towers are typically 700- 1 300 feet stations

high and radiate between 400 and 1 600 W of Canadian West Coast Williams Lake; three secondary stations
power. The master and secondary stations are
Great Lakes USA Dana, Indiana; four secondary stations
formed in groups known as chains as discussed
Gulf of Alaska Tok, Alaska; three secondary stations
earlier. Baseline distances vary from chain to
chain since many stations are located on islands Icelandic Sea Sandur, Iceland; two secondary stations
to provide oceanic coverage; distances of between Labrador Sea Fox Harbor, Canada; two secondary
1 75 and 1 000 nm are typical. The majority of stations
these chains are in the USA and Canada; other
Mediterranean Sea Sellia Marina, Italy; three secondary
chains are located in Russia, the northern Pacific, stations
Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The master
North Central USA Havre, Montana; three secondary
stations are identified as 'M' and the secondary stations
stations are identified from the series 'W, X, Y
North Pacific SI Paul, Alaska; three secondary
and Z'. The US Coast Guard (USCG) provides
full details of each chain, together with an on-line
Northeast USA Seneca, New York; four secondary
handbook containing very useful data and
information relating to Loran; details can be
found on their website The Northwest Pacific lwo Jima, Japan; four secondary
USCG introduced Loran-C into Europe, the
system was transferred to the host nations in Norwegian Sea Ejde, Denmark; four secondary stations

1 995. South Central USA Boise City, Oklahoma; five secondary

Table 1 4. 1 provides a list of currently available stations
Loran-C chains, together with a summary of how Southeast USA Malone, Florida; four secondary stations
many secondary stations are associated with the
master. Table 1 4.2 provides details for the West Coast USA Fallon, Nevada; three secondary
Northwest Pacific chain; this comprises stations
on the Japanese mainland and a number of islands
in the Pacific. Figure 1 4.7 gives an illustration of
Table 1 4.2 Details of the Northwest Pacific
the area of coverage for this chain.
chain (source USCG)
In previous chapters, radio navigation systems
including VOR, DME and VORTAC have been
Master station (M) lwo Jima, Japan
described. Note that since VOR, DME and
VORTAC navigation aids have to be located on Secondary station (W) Marcus Island, Japan

land, the airways' network does not provide a Secondary station (X) Hokkaido, Japan
great deal of coverage beyond coastal regions.
Secondary station (Y) Gesashi, Japan
Referring to Figure 1 4.9(a), a combination of
Secondary station (Z) Barrigada, Japan
VOR, DME and TACAN stations located in a
number of European countries provides a certain
amount of navigation guidance in the North
Atlantic, Norwegian Sea and North Sea. This located at Ejde · (Denmark); four secondary
diagram assumes a line-of-sight range of stations (X, W, Y and Z) located in Bo
approximately 200 nm. The gaps in this radio (Norway), Sylt (Germany), Sandur (Iceland)
navigation network can be largely overcome by and Jan Mayen (Norway) respectively. Note
the use of Loran-C, see Figure 1 4.9(b). This is the that this illustrates the estimated ground
Norwegian Sea chain, with the master station coverage, actual coverage will vary.
1 76 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

1200 E 150• E
addition to this, the receiver also has to be able
to reject a large amount of interference and
atmospheric noise.
Estimated area of A navigation computing function can provide
ground wave coverage enhanced operation for the system. Chain details
such as latitude and longitude of stations, GRI

. .•"'· )/
and secondary delay times are all stored in a
database. Corrections can be applied for known
300 N

-·...} w
propagation differences over sea, land, and ice. If
the receiver is receiving pulses from more than
one chain, it is possible to calculate an average

position. A typical control display unit used for
•' hyperbolic navigation is shown in Figure 1 4.8



M lwo Jlma, Japan

W Marcus Island, Japan
X Hokkaldo, Japan
Y Gesashl, Japan
Z Barrlgada, Guam

Figure 1 4.7 Northwest Pacific chain

(courtesy U SCG)

1 4.5 Loran-C airborne equipment


Airborne equipment comprises the antenna,

receiver and control display unit. The antenna is
often shared with the ADF sense loop. Loran-C
chains all transmit at I 00 kHz, i.e. there is no
need to tune the receiver to a specific chain.
The receiver searches for master stations and
tracks secondary signals; this is achieved with a
phase locked loop process. Since all chains
transmit at 1 00 kHz, an aircraft in range of more
Figure 1 4.8 Typical control display unit
than one chain will receive pulses from many
stations; the receiver has to be able to identify
specific chains by their emission delays. Once Test your understanding 1 4. 1
identified, the receiver determines which chain is
providing the strongest signals, and which is What frequency range does Loran-C use?
providing the best navigation solution. Accurate
timing signals are used to recognise the unique
Loran-C pulse shape. Once acquired, the receiver
needs to identify the third peak in the pulse; this Test your understanding 1 4.2
peak has the highest rate of change with respect
to the eighth pulse. Identification of the third peak What does GRI mean, and how does this define a
is determined by measuring the zero crossings Loran-C chain?
and amplitude growth within the pulse. In
Hyperbolic radio navigation 1 77

zo·w cow zo·E

systems (GNSS) will, in theory, make the use of

I Loran-C unattractive, and eventually become

obsolete. There were plans to decommission the
system due to the emerging use and attractions of
GNSS. In reality however, this situation is being
Referring to Chapter 1 8, it is clear that any
GNSS is vulnerable to disruption; this can be
either a deliberate attempt to interfere with the
transmissions, satellite failure or because of
adverse atmospheric conditions. With increased
dependence on GNSS for aviation, marine,
vehicle and location-based services, the impact of
any disruption is significant. The solution to this
is to have an alternative navigation system
(a) VOR-DME coverage working alongside GNSS as a backup, e.g. VOR,
DME, inertial navigation (described elsewhere in
the book) or Loran.
The next development from Loran-C is
enhanced Loran (eLoran) which will take
advantage of new and emerging technology.
Enhanced Loran introduces an additional data
channel via the Loran transmission; this data
includes up to sixteen message types including
(but not limited to) station identity, coordinated
universal time (UTC), corrections, warnings, and
signal integrity information. This data channel is
achieved via pulse-position modulation. The new
pulse is added to the Loran transmission one
millisecond after the eighth pulse on a secondary
transmitting station, and between the current
eighth and ninth pulses on a master transmitting
station. Testing of the Loran data channel (LDC)
(b) Loran-C coverage by the FAA and US Coast Guard began in July of
2005 .
The eLoran system comprises the transmitting
Figure 1 4.9 Comparison of VOR-DM E and station, monitoring sites, and control monitor .
Loran-C coverage in a coastal area station; this is a self-correcting system as
illustrated in Figure 1 4. 1 0.
Using a technique called time of transmission
control, timing is held constant at each
transmitting station rather than in the monitoring
sites. The eLoran receiver acquires, tracks and
Loran-C has several advantages over the two manages stations as if they were satellites,
other (now obsolete) hyperbolic navigation thereby providing reliable timing measurements
systems, Decca and Omega; these advantages leading to accurate position calculations. This
include the use of ground waves at low radio concept increases coverage since multiple stations
frequencies and pulse techniques to discriminate from any chain can be selected by the receiver,
against sky wave inference. provided that they are within range. This feature
The introduction of global navigation satellite (known as all-in-view) treats each Loran
1 78 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Transmitting station
Test your understanding 1 4.4
( 1 ) Broadcasts own signals

t Loran-C systems can share their aircraft antennas

Monitoring site with which other navigation system?
( 1 ) Receives signals and applies corrections

Control monitor station
( 1 ) Validates and stores corrections
(2) Sends corrections to appropriate transmitting station
1 4.7 Multiple choice questions
Transmitting station
I . Long-range radio navigation systems rely on
what type of radio wave?
( 1 ) Validates incoming signals from control monitor station (a) Ground wave
(2) Formats signals and transmits on data channel (b) Sky wave
(c) Space wave.

Figure 1 4.1 0 Self-correcting system used in 2 . How many transmitting stations are required
eloran in a hyperbolic navigation system to provide a
unique position?
(a) One
transmitter as an individual, i.e. it does not relate (b) Two
that station to a specific chain. (c) Three or more.
A combined GNSS/eLoran receiver offers a
powerful solution to the problem of GNSS 3 . How many unique locations are defined on a
vulnerability. The use of eLoran will complement hyperbolic line of position?
global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), it will (a) One
also provide a backup with integrity maintained (b) Two
via eLoran's independence and dissimilar method (c) None.
of navigation.
The expected accuracy of eLoran is better than 4. The foci of hyperbolae are located at:
I 0 metres compared to a Loran-C accuracy of 460 (a) each of the transmitters
metres (0.25 run). The reader is encouraged to (b) the intersection of lines of position
read the industry press and monitor developments (c) the intersection of concentric circles.
of this subject.
5. The intersection of two Loran-C pulses with
same time delay can be used to determine a:
(a) line of position
(b) baseline
Key point (c) unique position.
In addition to master and secondary stations,
monitoring stations are deployed to sample the 6. Loran-C operates in which frequency band?
chain's signal strength , timing and pulse shape. (a) I 90-1 750 kHz
(b) 90-I I O kHz
(c) 1 08-1 1 2 MHz.

7. How many pulses does the master station in a

Test. your understanding 1 4.3 Loran-C chain transmit?
(a) 27
How many unique lateral geographical positions (b) 8
can two hyperbolic navigation stations define? (c) 9.
Chapter Do p p l e r n avigation
1 -5

Doppler navigation is a self-contained dead observer, the number of cycles 'received' by the
reckoning system, i.e. it requires no external observer is the fixed tone, plus the additional
inputs or references from ground stations. Ground cycles received as a function of the train's speed.
speed and drift can be determined using a This will have the effect of increasing the tone
fundamental scientific principle called Doppler (above the fixed frequency) as heard by the
shift. Doppler navigation systems were developed observer. At the instant when the train is adjacent
in the mid- 1 940s and introduced in the mid- 1 950s to the observer, the true fixed-frequency will be
as a primary navigation system with many heard. When the train travels away from the
features including continuous calculations of observer, fewer cycles per second will be
ground speed and drift. Being self-contained, the received and the tone will be below the fixed­
system can be used for long distance navigation frequency as heard by the observer. The
over oceans and undeveloped areas of the globe. difference in tone is known as the Doppler shift;
Doppler navigation sensors are often integrated this principle is used in Doppler navigation
with other aircraft navigation systems. systems. Doppler shift is, for practical purposes,
Alternatively, Doppler sensors are used in other directly proportional to the relative speed of
specialised airborne applications, including movement between the source and observer. The
weather radar and missile warning systems. relationship between the difference in frequencies
Enhanced VOR ground installations also and velocity can be expressed as:
incorporate Doppler principles. In this chapter,
FD -
we will review some basic scientific principles, -

look at Doppler navigation as a stand-alone

where F0 = frequency difference, v = aircraft

system, and then review some of the other
Doppler applications.
velocity, f = frequency of transmission, and c =
speed of electromagnetic propagation (3 x I 0 8
1 5. 1 The Do�pler effect

The 'Doppler effect' is named after Christian

Doppler ( 1 803-1 853), an Austrian mathematician
and physicist. His hypothesis was that the
frequency of a wave apparently changes as its Doppler navigation systems in aircraft have a
source moves closer to, or further away from, an focused beam of electromagnetic energy
observer. This principle was initially proven to transmitted ahead of the aircraft at a fixed angle
occur with sound; it was subsequently found to (theta, B) as shown in Figure 1 5 .2. This beam is
occur with any wave type including scattered in all directions when it arrives at the
electromagnetic energy. An excellent example of surface of the earth. Some of the energy is
the Doppler effect can be observed when fast received back at the aircraft. By measuring the
trains (or racing cars) pass by an observer. difference in frequency between the transmitted
To illustrate this principle, consider Figure and received signals, the aircraft's ground speed
1 5 . 1 , an observer located at a certain distance can be calculated. The signal-to-noise ratio of the
from a sound source that is emitting a fixed­ received signal is a function of a number of
frequency tone. As the train approaches the factors including:
1 80 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

• Aircraft range to the terrain

• Backscattering features of the terrain
• Atmospheric conditions, i.e. attenuation

and absorption of radar energy
• Radar equipment.
Observer Note that the aircraft in Figure 1 5 .2 is flying
(a) Train moving towards the observer (more cycles in a given time straight and level. If the aircraft were pitched up
therefore the observer perceives a higher pitch)
or down, this would change the angle of the beam
with respect to the aircraft and the surface; this
will change the value of Doppler shift for a given
ground speed. Tbis situation can be overcome in
one of two ways; the transmitter and receiver can
be mounted on a stabilised platform or (more

usually) two beams can be transmitted from the
aircraft (forward and aft) as shown in Figure 1 5 .3 .

By comparing the Doppler shift of both beams, a
true value of ground speed can be derived. The
(b) Train nearest to the observer (observer perceives the exact pitch)
relationsbip between the difference in frequencies
and velocity in an aircraft can be expressed as:

F. 2 cos () x vf
D -

!••••••(!•• J C

where F0 = frequency difference, 0 the angle

between the beam and aircraft, v = aircraft

velocity, f = frequency of transmission, and c =
speed of electromagnetic propagation (3 x 1 08
(c) Train moving away from the observer (less cycles in a given
time therefore the observer perceives a lower pitch)
Note that a factor of two is needed in the
expression since both the transmitter and receiver
Figure 1 5.1 The Doppler effect
are moving with respect to the earth's surface. It
can be seen from this expression that aircraft
altitude is not a factor in the basic Doppler
calculation. Modem Doppler systems (such as the
CMC Electronics fifth generation system) operate
up to 1 5,000 feet (rotary wing) and 50,000 feet
(fixed wing).
Having measured velocity along the track of
the aircraft, we now need to calculate drift. This
can be achieved by directing a beam at right
angles to the direction of travel, see Figure 1 5.4.
Calculation of drift is achieved by utilising the
(a) Beam transmitted ahead
of aircraft
same principles as described above. In practical
installations, several directional beams are used,
see Figure 1 5 .5.
The calculation of ground speed and drift
provides 'raw navigation' information. By
combining these two values with directional
Figu re 1 5.2 Doppler navigation principles information from a gyro-magnetic compass
Doppler navigation 1 81

system, we have the basis of a complete self­

contained navigation system. By integrating the
velocity calculations, the system can derive the
distance travelled (along track) and cross track
deviations. The Doppler system has a resolution
of approximately 2 0-3 0 Hz (frequency
difference) per knot of speed. Note that, in
addition to ground speed and drift information,
Doppler velocity sensors can also detect vertical
displacement from a given point. Errors
accumulate as a function of distance travelled;
typical Doppler navigation system accuracy can
be expressed in knots { V1) as follows (data
courtesy of CMC Electronics):
Figure 1 5.3 Compensation for aircraft pitch
VI 'VfvX 2 + Vy 2 + VZ z
angle =

The individual components of velocity along the

Lateral beams
x, y and z axes (ground speed, drift and vertical
components) have accuracies given in Table 1 5. 1
for both sea (Beaufort scale of 1 ) and land
When flying over oceans, the Doppler system
will calculate velocities that include movement of
Return from the sea due to tidal effects, i.e. not a true
ground scatter
calculation of speed over the earth's surface.
These short-term errors will be averaged out over
time. Doppler sensors are ideally suited for rotary
wing aircraft that need to hover over an object in
With no drift, the reflected return from ground scatter has no Doppler shift
the sea, e.g. during search and rescue operations,
see Figure 1 5 .6. The surface features of water are
Figure 1 5.4 Measuring d rift by Doppler shift critical to the received backscatter; this must be
taken into account in the system specification.
The 'worst case' conditions for signal to noise
ratios are with smooth sea conditions; to illustrate
this point consider the two reflecting surfaces
illustrated in Figure 1 5.7. (Note that the reflecting
surface of water would never actually be optically
perfect, but smooth surface conditions do reduce
the amount of scatter.) When hovering over water
in search and rescue operations, Doppler systems

Table 1 5.1 Doppler navigation system

component accuracy

Component Land Sea

v. 0.3% V, + 0.2 knots 0.2 5 % v, + 0.2 knots

Figure 1 5.5 Measuring ground speed and Vy 0.3% V1 + 0.2 knots 0.25 % V1 + 0.2 knots
drift using directional beams Vz 0.2% V1 + 0.2 fpm 0.20% V1 + 0.2 fpm
1 82 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

have the distinct advantage of being able to track

a vessel as it drifts with the tide. This reduces
pilot workload, particularly if the Doppler system
is coupled to an automatic control system.
Doppler system specifications for navigation
accuracy are often expressed with reference to
the Beaufort scale; this scale has a range of
between 1 and 12. A sea state of 1 on the
Beaufort scale is defined by a wind of between 1
and 3 knots with the surface of the water having
ripples, but no foam crests. (a) Diffuse surface conditions

Key poi nt
Christian Doppler's hypothesis was that the
frequency of a wave apparently changes as its
source moves closer to, or farther away from, an

(b) Smooth surface conditions

Figure 1 5.7 Surface reflections

Key point
Doppler sensors are ideally suited for rotary wing
aircraft that need to hover over an object in the
- Tide sea, e.g. during search and rescue operations.
(a) Aircraft tracks object using forward/aft beams

Test your understanding 1 5. 1

What value of Doppler shift along the aircraft track

would be measured if the radar beam were
transmitted vertically down from the aircraft?

Test your understanding 1 5.2

- Tide
What effect does increasing the frequency of a
(b) Aircraft tracks object using lateral beams
transmitted Doppler beam have on sensitivity of
the frequency shift?
Figure 1 5.6 Using Doppler during hover
Doppler navigation 1 83

Doppler navigation systems use directional beams

to derive ground speed and drift as previously
described; these beams are arranged in a number
of ways as illustrated in Figure 1 5 .8. The fore
and aft beams are referred to as a 'Janus'
configuration (after the Roman god of openings
and beginnings, Janus, who could face in two
dire c t i o n s at the s a me time).
Three beams can be arranged in the form of the
(a) Four beam Janus X (b) Three beam Janus A
Greek letter lambda (A.). The four-beam
arrangement is an X configuration; only three
beams are actually required, the fourth provides a
level of monitoring and redundancy. In the four­
beam arrangement, the fore and aft signals are
transmitted in alternative pairs.
ReferriLs to the relationship:

F. _ 2 cos B x vf
D -

it can be seen that the sensitivity of Doppler

velocity calculations increases . with the
transmitted frequency; this means that a smaller
antenna can be used. (c) Three beam Janus T (d) Two beam non·Janus

The frequencies allocated to Doppler

navigation systems are within the SHF range, Figure 1 5.8 Doppler beam arrangements
specifically 1 3 .25- 1 3 .4 GHz; some Doppler
systems operate within the 8 .75-8.85 GHz range.

Test your understanding 1 5.3

How does a Doppler navigation system derive

Key point aircraft heading?

By measuring the difference in frequency between

the transmitted and received signals, the aircraft's
velocity in three axes can be calculated using the
Doppler shift principle. Test your understanding 1 5.4

What is the reason for having more than one

Doppler beam transmission, e.g. the lambda

Key point

Doppler navigation systems are self-contained;

they do not require any inputs from ground
navigation aids. The system needs an accurate
Test your understanding 1 5.5
on-board directional input, e.g. from a
What effect does the sea state have o n the back
scattering of a Doppler beam?
1 84 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

The basic Doppler system comprises an antenna,

transmitter and receiver. The antenna can be
fixed to the airframe thereby needing corrections
for pitch attitude (achieved via the Janus
configuration). Alternatively the antenna could
be slaved to the aircraft's attitude reference
system. The antenna produces a very narrow
conical- or pencil-shaped beam.
The Doppler navigation system has been
superseded for commercial airline use by inertial
and satellite navigation systems. Rotary wing
aircraft, however, use Doppler sensors to provide
automatic approach and stabilisation during
hover manoeuvres; in this case the display would
provide vertical displacement above/below the
selected hover altitude and lateraVlongitudinal
deviation from the selected hover position.

1 5.4 Typical Doppler i nstallations

Doppler principles can either be used in self­

contained navigation systems, or as stand-alone
velocity sensors. An early ( 1 970s) version of a
control display panel used on the MR I Nimrod
aircraft is illustrated in Figure 1 5.9. The stand­ Figure 1 5.9 Doppler control display unit
alone velocity sensor is in the form of a radar ( 1 970's technology)
transmitter-receiver as illustrated in Figure 1 5 . 1 0,
item 1 . This sensor has a resolution of less than
aggressive for certain helicopter operations.
0. 1 knots and can be interfaced with other avionic
Changes of up to 60 degrees per second can be
systems and displays using data bus techniques.
accommodated for pitch and roll excursions; the
With increasing digital processing capability, the
system can accommodate rate changes of up to
Doppler velocity sensor can be integrated with
l 00 degrees per second in azimuth.
other navigation sensors to provide filtered
navigation calculations. This subject is addressed
in Chapter 1 6.
Typical self-contained Doppler navigation
systems comprise the radar transmitter-receiver,
signal processor, control display unit and steering In summary, Doppler navigation has a number of
indicator, as illustrated in Figure 1 5 . 1 0 (pictures advantages:
and data courtesy of CMC Electronics). This
• Velocity and position outputs from the
navigation system transmits at 1 3 .325 GHz using
system are provided on a continuous basis
frequency moduJation/continuous wave signals at
a low radiated power of 20 mW.
• It requires no ground navigation aids, i.e. it
Digital signal processing is used for continuous is self-contained and autonomous
spectrum analysis of signal returns; this leads to
• Velocity outputs are very accurate
enhanced tracking precision accuracy and • Navigation is possible over any part of the
optimises signal acquisition over marginal terrain globe, including oceans and polar regions
conditions (sand, snow and calm sea conditions). • The system is largely unaffected by weather
Doppler systems compensate for attitude changes (although certain rainfall conditions can
as described earlier; these manoeuvres can be affect the radar returns)
Doppler navigation 1 85

Signal processor

Steering indicator Control and display unit

Figure 1 5. 1 0 Doppler system (photo courtesy of C M C Electronics)

• The system does not require any preflight


The disadvantages of Doppler navigation are: In addition to self-contained navigation, the

Doppler shift principle is also employed in
• It is dependent upon a directional reference, several other aerospace systems. Missile warning
e.g. a gyro-magnetic compass systems and military radar applications include
• It requires a vertical reference to pulse-Doppler radar target acquisition and
compensate for aircraft attitude tracking; the Doppler principle is employed to
• Position calculations degrade with distance reduce clutter from ground returns and
travelled atmospheric conditions.
• Short-term velocity calculations can be In Chapter 1 0 reference was made to siting
inaccurate, e.g. when flying over the tidal errors of conventional VOR ground stations.
waters, the calculated aircraft velocity will Many VOR stations now employ the Doppler
be in error depending on the tide ' s direction principle to overcome these errors; these are
and speed. (This effect will average out over referred to as Doppler VOR (DVOR) navigation
longer distances, and can actually be used to aids; more details are provided in Chapter 1 0.
an advantage for rotary wing aircraft) Enhanced weather radar systems for commercial
• Military users have to be aware that the aircraft have the additional functionality of being
radar transmission is effectively giving able to detect turbulence and predict wind shear
away the location of the aircraft. (see Chapter 20).
1 86 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

6. The backscattering features of the terrain

Key point
affect the Doppler navigation system's:
Doppler navigation system accuracy can be (a) accuracy
expressed in knots; errors accumulate as a (b) signal to noise ratio
function of distance travelled. (c) coverage.

7. Integrating Doppler ground speed calculations

will provide:
(a) distance travelled
Test your understanding 1 5.5 (b) drift angle
(c) directional information.
When crossing over a coastal area, from land
towards the sea, what effect will tidal flow have on 8. Drift can be measured by directing a beam:
the Doppler system's calculated ground speed (a) at right angles to the direction of travel
and drift? (b) in line with the direction of travel
(c) directly below the aircraft.

9. Doppler position calculations degrade with:

(a) time
(b) attitude changes
I. Doppler navigation systems operate in which (c) distance travelled.
frequency range?
(a) SHF 1 0. When hovering directly over an object in the
(b) VHF sea with a six-knot tide, the Doppler system
(c) UHF. will indicate:
(a) six knots drift in the opposite direction of
2. When moving towards a sound source, what the tide
effect will Doppler shift have on the pitch of (b) six knots drift in the direction of the tide
the sound as heard by an observer? (c) zero drift.
(a) No effect
(b) Increased pitch 1 1 . When hovering over water, the 'worst case'
(c) Decreased pitch. conditions for signal to noise ratios are with:
(a) smooth sea conditions
3. What effect does increasing the frequency of a (b) rough sea conditions
transmitted Doppler beam have on sensitivity (c) tidal drift.
of the frequency shift?
(a) Decreased 1 2. Doppler system beams in the lambda -
(b) No effect arrangement have beams directed in the
(c) Increased. following way:
(a) forward and to each side of the aircraft
4. Raw Doppler calculations include: (b) forward, aft and to one side of the aircraft
(a) pitch and roll (c) forward, aft and to each side of the
(b) directional information aircraft.
(c) ground speed and drift.
1 3 . Backscattering of a Doppler beam from the
5. Velocity and position outputs from a Doppler surface of water is:
navigation system are provided: (a) low from a rough surface
(a) only when the aircraft is moving (b) low from a smooth surface
(b) on a continuous basis (c) high from a smooth surface.
(c) only in straight and level flight.
C hapte r A re a navig a tio n
16 !I!

Area navigation (RNAV) is means of combining, described in earlier chapters of this book.
or filtering, inputs from one or more navigation Conventional airways are defined by VOR and
sensors and defining positions that are not DME navigation aids, see Figure 1 6.3.
necessarily eo-located with ground-based Since the VOR-DME systems are line of
navigation aids. This facilitates aircraft navigation sight, the altitude of the aircraft will have a direct
along any desired flight path within range of relationship with the range that the system can be
navigation aids; alternatively, a flight path can be used, see Figure 1 6.4. Using VOR-DME
planned with autonomous navigation equipment. navigation aids imposes a limit on the working
Optimum area navigation is achieved using a range that can be obtained. The maximum line­
combination of ground navigation aids and of-sight (LOS) distance between an aircraft and
autonomous navigation equipment. the ground station is given by the relationship:
Typical navigation sensor inputs to an RNAV
system can be from external ground-based d = I . l Jh
navigation aids such as VHF omni-range (VOR)
and distance measuring equipment (DME); where d is the distance in nautical miles, and h is
autonomous systems include global satellite the altitude in feet above ground level (assumed
navigation or inertial reference system (IRS). to be flat terrain). The theoretical LOS range for
Many RNAV systems use a combination of altitudes up to 20,000 feet is given in Table 1 6. 1 .
numerous ground-based navigation aids, satellite At higher altitudes, it is possible to receive VOR
navigation systems and self-contained navigation signals at greater distances but with reduced
systems. In this chapter, we will focus on area signal integrity. Although the actual range also
navigation systems that use VOR and DME depends on transmitter power and receiver
navigation aids to establish the basic principles of sensitivity, the above relationship provides a
RNAV. The chapter concludes with a review good approximation.
of Kalman filters and how RNAV systems The positions defined in an RNAV system are
are specified with a 'required navigation called waypoints; these are geographical
performance' (RNP). positions that can be created in a number of
ways. RNAV systems can store many waypoints
in a sequence that comprises a complete route
1 1.1 ' RNAV overview

Two basic ground navigation aids that can be

used for RNAV are VOR and DME; see Figures Table 1 6.1 Theoretical LOS range
1 6. 1 and 1 6.2. RNAV is a guidance system that
uses various inputs, e.g. VOR and/or DME to Altitude (feet) Range (nm)
compute a position. The VOR system transmits
specific bearing information, referred to _ as ' 1 00 10
radials, see Figure 1 6. 1 . The pilot l .m select any
1 ,000 32
radial from a given VOR navigation aid and fly to
or from that aid. 5,000 70
Distance measuring equipment (DME) is a
1 0,000 1 00
short-/medium-range navigation system based on
secondary radar. Both VOR and DME are 20,000 141
1 88 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

go• of RF beam

VOR ground station

• VHF transmitter
• Rotating RF beam
• Referenced to magnetic North

(a) VHF omni-range (VOR) overview

(b) VHF omni-range-line of sight

Figure 1 6.1 VOR principles

(a) Secondary radar used for DME (b) DME transponder ( right of photo)

Figure 1 6.2 DME principles

Area navigation 1 89

i i
;RJDME navigation aid VOR navigation �

8---\ --- - - - - - - - - -§} 8

Distance calculated by DME
Radial from VOR navigation aid

Figure 1 6.3(a) Aircraft flying along a conventional airway


L607 -
Route designator

42 349--
Magnetic track
-- 18�

Distance (nm)
FL 1 95 ...___
....&..,-&- FIR/UIR
Upper limit

lower limit

V TACAN /\ Compulsory
Aerodrome/airport symbols

-c) -Q-
reporting point

� VORTAC .._ On-request (Q)

5013�t N/OO.lOGOY. A reporting point Civil Civil/military Military

Figure 1 6.3(b) A typical airways chart

1 90 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

/ ---


/ --
-- -
- -- .f'28s1- e
t..::::.J 6.
, Intersection of
Waypoint crnated by
VOR radlals
VOR-A (045') VOR-8

VOR-B (285')

(a) Line of sight versus altitude


Figure 1 6.5(a) Creating a waypoint (VOR­


T e� �----
' Waypoint created by VOR
radial (060') and OME
distance (25 nm)

(b) DME slant range


Figure 1 6.4 Line of sight and slant range

Figure 1 6.5(b) Creating a waypoint (VOR­
from origin to destination. Creating waypoints DME)
that are not eo-located with fixed ground aids
provides a very flexible and efficient approach to RNAV leg

flight planning. These waypoints are stored in a

navigation database (NDB) as permanent
records or entered by the pilot. Waypoints can be �-------------------�
referenced to a fixed position derived from VOR Waypoint 1 Waypoint 2
and/or DME navigation aids, see Figure 1 6. 5 . The
desired track between waypoints (Figure 1 6.6) is
referred to as an RNAV leg. Each leg will have a
Figure 1 6.6 Creating an RNAV leg
defmed direction and distance; a number of legs
in sequence becomes the route. The advent of
digital computers has facilitated comprehensive • Flying parallel tracks, i.e. with a specified
area navigation systems that use a combination of cross track distance (Figure 1 6.7c). This
ground navigation aids and airborne equipment. provides greater utilisation of airspace,
The features and benefits of RNAV are especially through congested areas
illustrated in Figure 1 6.7, these include: • Flying 'direct to' a VOR navigation aid (or
• Customised and/or modified routes, e.g. to waypoint) when cleared or directed by air
avoid congested airspace, or adverse traffic control (ATC), thereby shortening
weather conditions (Figure 1 6.7a) the distance flown (Figure 1 6.7d).
• Optirnising the route (Figure 1 6.7b) to These features lead to a reduction of operating
bypass navigation aids ('cutting corners'), costs achieved by saving time and/or fuel. RNAV
e.g. if VOR-C is out of range, the RNAV equipped aircraft are able to operate in flexible
leg is created thereby shortening the scenarios that are not possible with conventional
distance flown airway routes, this leads to higher utilisation of
Area navigation 191


Nrway B-C

RNAV toute

__ { _ __ _
_ ______ _ _



(a) Avoiding Wi!alher via RNAV routing (b) Optimlsing a route to bypass a navigational aid

:::� � 1 - - :::·.�--' VOR-8

7 e -
---- - --- -

, ' '' Origlnol """' pion

-- - I

�:l-- --;-__:::�_-=:�-
' ',


8� Aktnoft cleared by
ATC ·- to' VOR.C VOR.C


(c) Parallel tracks using RNAV (d) RNAV 'direct to' clearance

Figure 1 6.7 Features and benefits of RNAV

the aircraft. VOR-DME defmed airways were • Present position in latitude and longitude
supplemented in the 1 970s with RNAV routes, • Wind speed and wind direction
but this scheme has now been superseded (see • Distance, bearing and time to the active
'Required navigation performance' at the end of waypoint.
this chapter).
The pilot can call up stored waypoints;
lternatively, the pilot can create waypoints. The
CDU can also be used for selecting the direct
1 8.2 RNAV equipment
to feature. Navigation guidance information
displayed on the CDU will also be displayed (via
In addition to the VOR and DME equipment
a 'Rad/Nav' switch) for the primary navigation
described in previous chapters, an RNAV system
instruments, e.g. the course deviation indicator
also incorporates a control display unit,
(CDI). Guidance information on this instrument
navigation instruments and a computer.
will include a continuous display of aircraft
position relative to the desired track. Navigation
1 6.2.1 Control display unit (CDU)
sensor failure warnings will also be displayed on
Pilot inputs to the system are via a control display the primary navigation instruments. To achieve
unit (CDU), see Figure 1 6. 8(a). Typical CDU the maximum benefits of an RNAV system,
displays include: outputs are coupled to the automatic flight
1 92 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

control system (AFCS) by selecting 'NAY' on

the AFCS mode control panel. Auto-leg
sequencing with associated turn anticipation is
possible within the control laws of the AFCS.

1 6.2.2 Navigation instruments

One instrument that can be used for the display of
RNAV information is the course deviation
indicator (CDI). This has a compass display and
course selector as shown in F igure 1 6 .8(b). The
course selector (lower right-hand side of
instrument) is set to the desired leg; a deviation
pointer moves left or right of the aircraft symbol
to indicate if the aircraft is to the right or left of
the selected leg.

(a) RNAV control display unit (CDU) 1 6.2.3 Computer

The RNAV computer is used to resolve a variety
of navigation equations. In order to realise the
benefits of RNAV, systems contain a navigation
database (see below). Simple area navigation is
achieved by solving geometric equations; the data
required for -these calculations is obtained from
the relative bearings of VOR stations and/or
distances from DME stations.
In navigation calculations, bearings are referred
to as theta (()) and distances as rho (p). The
RNA V definition of a waypoint using a eo­
located VOR-DME navigation aid is illustrated
in Figure 1 6.9. Accurate horizontal range can be
calculated by the computer based on:
(b) Course deviation indicator • DME slant range
• DME transponder elevation
Figure 1 6.8 RNAV control and display
• aircraft altitude.

This calculation provides the true range as

Key point illustrated in Figure 1 6. 1 0. Transponder elevation
is obtained from the computer' s navigation
RNAV systems use a combination of navigation database. Altitude information is provided by an
system inputs.
encoding altimeter or air data computer (ADC).
Cross track deviation, either intentional or
otherwise, is calculated as shown in Figure 1 6. 1 1 .
Computers i n more sophisticated systems are
Key point also able to auto-tune navigation aids to provide
the optimum navigation solution. The system
RNAV equipped aircraft are able to operate in decides on whether to use combinations of VOR­
conditions and scenarios that would not have VOR (theta-theta), VOR-DME (theta-rho) or
been previously possible, thereby obtaining higher
DME-DME (rho-rho). Note that when two DME
utilisation of the aircraft.
navigation aids are used, there is an ambiguous
Area navigation 1 93


t �I

P2 I
: / P3

1 . Aircraft position defined by P1 �
(VOR radial DME range)
2. Waypoint defined by P2fh.

3. RNAV route defined b y p3(h

{a) RNAV triangulation

y = p sin B

w E

x = p cos(}

(b) RNAV calculation

Figure 1 6.9 RNAV geometry

1 94 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Horizontal range (PH)

/ Altitude (A)

----�--�--- - - - - - - - - -
1 DME elevation (E)
above MSL
MSL - - - - - - - - - -

DME - distance measuring equipment

MSL - mean sea level

Figure 1 6. 1 0 RNAV geometry-vertical profile


Parallel track
(cross-track deviation)



Aircraft right of airway (as shown):
8-, = 240°
(h. = 300° reference data for P 1
fJ2 = 50 nm

P1 = P2 sin( (h. -
8-, )
= 50 sin 60°
: 50 X 0.866
= 43.3 nm (right of airway)

If the aircraft was to the left of the airway, a negative value of p would be calculated - this is
interpreted as being left of the airway

Figure 1 6. 1 1 RNAV geometry-lateral profile

1 95

-------, /.\ -
position fix, see Figure 1 6. 1 2; this can be
' -,
resolved in a number of ways, e.g. by tuning into
a third DME navigation aid or tuning into a VOR
I \


station. Systems use algorithms to determine DME 1 : DME 2

which combination of navigation aids to use; this \
. I

will depend on signal strength and geometry. / ·.


""/ '·
Four-dimensional waypoints can also be defined
by specifying the required time of arrival over a
Figure 1 6. 1 2 Am biguous DME position fix
three-dimensional waypoint. This is discussed
further in the flight management system chapter.
Other aircraft sensor inputs such as initial fuel located on land, RNA V based on these navigation
quantity, fuel flow, airspeed and time provide the aids alone does not extend far beyond coastal
means of calculating range, estimated time of regions. Referring to F igure 1 6. 1 5, a combination
arrival (ETA), endurance etc. This data can be of radio navigation stations located in a number
provided for specific waypoints or the final of European countries provides a certain amount
destination. of navigation guidance in the North Atl!!,ntic,
Norwegian Sea and North Sea. This diagram
16.2.4 Navigation database (NOB) assumes a line-of-sight range of approximately
The navigation database (stored within the 200 nm. The gaps in this radio navigation
RNAV computer's memory) contains permanent network can be overcome by the use of
records for VOR, DME and VORTAC navigation alternative navigation systems including: inertial
aids. Table 1 6.2 illustrates the locations, navigation, Doppler, global satel lite navigation
identification codes, and navigation aid type for a systems and Loran-C; these are all described
typical European country. Details that are stored elsewhere in this book.
in the database include specific information for
each navigation aid such as:
Table 1 6.2 Navigation aids in Belgium
• Name
• Identification code Name Identification Type
• Navigation aid type
• Latitude and longitude Atfligem AFI VOR-DME
• Elevation Antwerpen ANT VOR-DME
• Transmission frequency. Beauvechain BBE TACAN
The navigation database is updated every 28 days Bruno BUN VOR-DME
to take into account anything that has changed
with a navigation aid, e.g. frequency changes, Brussels BUB VOR-DME
temporary unavailability etc. The pilot can enter Chievres ClV VOR
new or modified details for navigation aids that
Chievres ClV TACAN
might not be contained in the navigation
database. Waypoints can either be entered as they Costa COA VOR-DME
appear on navigation charts, or the pilot can Flora FLO VOR-DME
create them. The navigation database in more
sophisticated RNAV systems will also include Florennes BFS TACAN
standard instrument departures (Sills), standard Go sly GSY VOR-DME
terminal arrival routes (STARs), runway data and
three-dimensional (latitude, longitude and Huldenberg HUL VOR-DME
altitude) waypoints to faqilitate air traffic control Kleine Brogel BBL TACAN
requirements. F igures 1 6. 1 3 and 1 6. 1 4 give
examples of SIDS and STARS. Note that since
VOR and DME navigation aids have to be Liege LGE VOR-DME
1 96 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

Above 3000 '



,.------L�====:J ----- t�
- At �· -

e ---

-- -
--- VOR-DME (1)


..-- e�
Above 3000 ' AI �' VOR-DME (2)


1 . 1n this illustraUon, each of the three runways has a specific departure route to the VOR·DME (2) na�igatlon aid: the aircraft then joins the airways networtt

3. There would also be published departure routes for aircraft joining airways to the south. east and north
2. The SIOs are typically referenced to navigation ak1s. e.g. VOR-DME or mal't(er beacons

4. Reporting points (triangles} are often specified with altitude constraints. e.g. at. below or above 3000 '

Figure 1 6. 1 3 Illustration of standard instrument departures (SID)

Test your understanding 1 6. 1

Give (a) three features and (b) three benefits of One essential feature of advanced RNAV systems
RNAV. is the use of Kalman fLiters, named after Dr
Richard Kalman who introduced this concept in
the 1 960s. Kalman filters are optimal recursive
data processing algorithms that filter navigation
sensor measurements. The mathematical model is
Test your understanding 1 6.2 based on equations solved by the navigation
processor. To illustrate the principles of Kalman
The navigation database contains permanent filters, consider an RNAV system based on
records for radio navigation aids. List the typical
inertial navigation sensors with periodic updates
information that is stored for each one.
from radio navigation aids. (Inertial navigation is
described in Chapter 1 7.) One key operational
aspect of inertial navigation is that system errors
accumulate with time. When the system receives
a position fix from navigation aids, the inertial
Test your understanding 1 6.3 navigation system's errors can be corrected.
The key feature of the Kalman filter is that it
What feature is used to select the best navigation can analyse these errors and determine how they
aids for optimised area navigation? might have occurred; the filters are recursive, i.e.
they repeat the correction process on a succession
of navigation calculations and can ' learn' about
Area navigation 1 97

VOR-DME ( 1 )

8 -- -- - - -- - --
\� -------&
Reporting point

Route 5

e vo'Ce. )
Route 2

C . � '
Holding pattern

�-- - - - - - - - - ' """

Route \

1 . In this illustration, each of the three arrival routes is associated with a navigation aid (VOR-DME) and reporting point (solid triangles)
2. Each arrival route is normally allocated a holding pattern
3. Minimum sector altitudes are published for each route
4. When cleared by ATC, the aircraft would leave the holding pattern and be given a heading to join the ILS for the active runway, e.g. 27R

Figure 1 6. 1 4 I llustration o f standard terminal arrival routes (STAR)

the specific error characteristics of the sensors

Test your understanding 1 6.4
used. The numerous types of navigation sensors
What is the difference between a SID and STAR? employed in RNAV systems vary in their
principle of operation as described in the specific
chapters of this book. Kalman filters take
advantage of the dissimilar nature of each sensor
type; with repeated processing of errors,
complementary filtering of sensors can be
Key point
The RNAV navigation database is updated every
28 days to take into account anything that has
changed with a navigation aid, e.g. frequency Test your understanding 1 6.5
changes, temporary unavailability etc.
Explain the purpose of a Kalman filter.
1 98 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

20'W O'W 20'E 40'E

values are expressed by a number, e.g. RNP-5.
This indicates that (on a statistical basis) the
aircraft's area navigation system must maintain
the aircraft for 95% of the flight time within 5 nm
of the intended flight envelope, i.e. either side of,
and along the track. RNP-5 is used for basic
RNAV (BRNA V) in Europe. It is not specified
how this navigation performance should be
achieved, or what navigation equipment is to be
used. RNP for terminal operations is less than 1
nm; these systems require performance
monitoring and alert messages to the crew in the
event of system degradation.
Typical functions required of a BRNAV
system include:
Figure 1 6. 1 5 Line of sight coverage of radio • Aircraft position relative to the desired
navigation aids in Northern Europe track
• Distance and bearing to the next waypoint
• Ground speed, or time to the next
1 6.4 Required navigation performance waypoint
(RNP) • Waypoint storage (four minimum)
• Equipment failure warnings to the crew.
Simple area navigation systems can use radio
navigation aid inputs such as VOR and DME to Recommended BRNA V functions that maximise
provide definitions of waypoints as described in the capabilities of the system include:
this chapter. Comprehensive area navigation • Roll commands to an automatic flight
systems use a variety of sensors such as satellite control system (AFCS)
and inertial reference systems; these specific • Aircraft position expressed as latitude and
systems are addressed in more detail in longitude
subsequent chapters. ·The ac�uracy and reliability • A 'direct to' capability
of area navigation systems has led to a number of
• Navigation accuracy indication
navigation performance standards and procedures
• Automatic tuning of navigation aids
for the aircraft industry; these are known as
required navigation performance (RNP).
• Navigation database
Various RNAV systems together with their
• Automatic leg sequencing and/or turn
associated RNP are evolving via individual anticipation.
aviation authorities. This is embraced by the Note that if an inertial reference system (IRS) is
generic term of performance-based navigation used as a sensor, the BRNAV system must have
(PBN). Factors that contribute to overall area the capability of automatically tuning into radio
navigation accuracy include: navigation aids after a maximum period of two
hours; this is because an IRS derived position will
• External navigation aids
drift (see Chapter 1 7). If a global navigation
• The aircraft' s navigation equipment
satellite system (GNSS) is used as a sensor into
(including displays)
the RNAV system, the GNSS must have fault
• Automatic flight control system (AFCS).
detection software known as receiver autonomous
The International Civil Aviation Organisation integrity monitoring (RAIM), see Chapter 1 8.
(ICAO) has defined RNAV accuracy levels Single RNAV systems are permissible, however,
covering terminal, en route, oceimic and approach the aircraft must be able to revert to conventional
flight phases with specific navigation navigation using VOR, DME and ADF in the
performance values between 1 and 1 0 nm. These event of RNAV equipment failure.
Area navigation 1 99

In more remote areas, e.g. isolated oceanic

Test your understanding 1 6.7
regions where it is impossible to locate ground
navigation aids, RNP- 1 0 applies. This allows
Explain what is meant by RNP and why it is
spacing of 50 nm between aircraft in place of 1 00 needed.
nm. The RNAV system now needs two
independent long-range systems, e.g. I RS and/or
GNSS. If using IRS as a sensor, the system has to
receive a position fix with a specified period,
typically 6.2 hours. The GNSS has to have fault Test your understanding 1 6.8
detection and exclusion (FDE) capability, a
technique used to exclude erroneous or failed Explain why an RNAV database needs to be
satellites from the navigation calculations by updated every 28 days.
comparing the data from six satellites.

Key point
1 . Waypoints are defined geographically by:
Waypoints can be based on existing navigation
aids and defined mathematically as: (a) latitude and longitude
(b) VOR frequency
• rho-theta (using one DME and one VOR (c) DME range.
navigation aid)
• rheta-theta (using two VOR navigation aids) 2. Sills are used during the following fl ight
• rho-rho (using two DME navigation aids). (a) arrival
(b) cruise
(c) departure.

3 . Accurate area navigation using DME-DME

Key point requires:
(a) slant range
Auto-tuning of navigation aids is used by RNAV
(b) horizontal range
systems to select the best navigation aids for
optimised area navigation. (c) VOR radials.

4. Rho-theta is an expression for which area

navigation solution?
Key point (b) VOR-DME
(c) VOR-VOR.
Required navigation performance (RNP) is the
performance-based successor to area navigation
( RNAV). 5. Navigation legs are defined by:
(a) speed and distance
(b) bearing and distance
(c) bearing and speed.

Test your understanding 1 6.6 6. Specific information for each navigation aid is
contained in the:
Explain why RNAV systems using VOR-DME are
(a) navigation database
generally unavailable beyond land and its
(b) control display unit
immediate coastal regions.
(c) course deviation indicator.
200 Aircraft communications and navigation systems

7. Flying a parallel track requires a specified: 1 5 . An area navigation position calculated from
(a) cross track deviation two DME stations is referred to
(b) bearing mathematically as:
(c) distance to go. (a) theta-theta
(b) rho-theta
8. A three-dimensional waypoint is defined by: (c) rho-rho.
(b) latitude, longitude, altitude 1 6. The feature marked X in Figure 1 6. 1 6 is a:
(c) rho-theta-rho. (a) VOR-DME
(b) STAR
9. Autotuning of navigation aids is used by (c) waypoint.
RNAV systems to:
(a) update the navigation database
(b) create waypoints in the CDU
(c) select the best navigation aids for
optimised area navigation.

1 0 . Cross track deviation is displayed on the CDU

(a) RM1
(b) DME
(c) HSI.
Figure 1 6. 1 6 See Question 1 6
1 1 . The navigation database is normally updated:
(a) at the beginning of each flight
(b) every 28 days
(c) when selected by the pilot.

1 2. A four-dimensional waypoint is defined by:

(a) lateral position, altitude and time
(b) latitude, longitude, altitude and speed
(c) altitude, direction, speed and time.

1 3 . VORTAC navigation aids comprise which

two facilities:
(a) VOR and DME
(b) VOR and TACAN
(c) TACAN and NDB.

1 4 . RNP-2 requires that the aircraft:

(a) uses a minimum of two different
navigation sensor inputs
(b) is maintained within two nautical miles of
the specified ilight path
(c) is maintained within two degrees of the
specified ilight path.
I n erti a l navigati o n syste m

navigation is an autonomous dead Mass

reckoning method of navigation, i.e. it requires no
external inputs or references from grou