Pilot's tip of the week

ATC Headings


Subscriber question:

"Many times, especially during an IFR flight, I have been asked to change my heading such as fly heading 030. My thought is that they are trying to route me to a specific point. I doubt that it takes into account a wind drift since I have been asked to make an additional turn several times. In conversation with another pilot, he stated that a magnetic heading such as that requested should be flown. My thinking is that it is more accurate to fly the requested heading as a GPS track. What are your thoughts on this"  - Don


ATC Headings“You should fly the magnetic heading assigned by Air Traffic Control as indicated on your heading indicator or magnetic compass. ATC is aware of the prevailing wind and is taking that into account (when assigning your heading).

ATC may be vectoring you to a specific point, or as is likely the case they may be turning you to avoid traffic or airspace. This could require several turns. When ATC says fly heading 030…it means exactly that. They didn’t say fly GPS track 030.

If you were to fly the requested heading as a GPS track, then it would no longer be a heading.”

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