Introduction to Air Navigation
Information Sheet No. 4.1.1I
Air navigation is defined as "the process of determining the geographic position and
maintaining the desired direction of an aircraft relative to the surface of the earth."
There are three types of navigation: Dead Reckoning Navigation, Visual Navigation, and
Electronic Navigation. Visual and electronic navigation are back-up techniques to dead
DEAD RECKONING NAVIGATION
Dead Reckoning is defined as directing an aircraft and determining its position by the
application of direction and speed data from a previous position. It is the basis for all types
of air navigation. Navigation is both the history and prediction of an aircraft's flight path. At
the heart of DR are its four components: position, direction, time, and speed. Position is a
set of coordinates that define the specific location of the aircraft above the earth's surface.
Direction is an angular measurement from a reference, which determines the actual flight
path from a known starting point. Speed multiplied by time will produce the distance flown
(or to be flown). The combination of these four components will allow the aircrew to
determine the aircraft's current position or to predict its future position. As with any
mathematical relationship, if three of the four components are known, the fourth can be
Position is a geographic point defined by coordinates. There are several coordinate
systems available to determine a specific location on the earth's surface. The primary
system used in aviation is the latitude/longitude system.