Private Pilots operate as the pilot in command (PIC) of a single pilot aircraft. But they must also be the navigator, too. So it’s critical that they’re able to apply the correct practices to navigational tasks — especially during cross country flights. Developing navigational skills is the very essence of single pilot flying; hence the importance of the ‘Navigation’ PPL(A) subject.
Navigation PPL(A) Overview
Student pilots must be able to navigate whilst also managing accurate headings, airspeeds and altitudes. To be successful at the Navigation PPL(A) segment, flight planning is key. Pilots need to consider factors such as:
- Weather — at departure, en-route and the destination airfield
- Royal Flights — you need to phone the royal flight information line to ensure your planned route doesn’t pass near any planned royal flights (temporarily restricted airspace)
- NOTAMs (Notice To AirMen) — temporary notices and restrictions. You must check for any along your planned route
- Fuel — the amount needed for the journey (including a contingency amount)
- Alternatives — what airfields can you divert to if the weather turns bad?
- Weight & Balance — are you able to fly the planned route with the fuel, passengers and luggage that you have?
During the Navigation course, you’ll learn all of the theoretical knowledge which meets the PPL(A) requirements. This includes the basic theory behind radio navigation aids, and — importantly — the use of a CRP flight computer or “Whizz Wheel”. The CRP flight computer is commonly used for PPL and ATPL examinations.
You use a CRP to calculate the heading to fly, and to estimate the time it takes to fly each leg of your planned journey. Both of these things very much depend on the wind. The CRP uses the triangle of velocities to give you a ground speed and wind correction angle, given the wind speed, direction, your intended heading and air speed. This sounds confusing at first — but a flight computer is a simple and easy-to-use 1950’s technology. Everything is fully explained on your course*.
The course can be completed in one day, with the examination taken at the end.
*We’ll include a tutorial on CRP computers once we release our own version.
The PPL Navigation examination has 12 multiple choice questions which must be answered within a 45 minute time limit. The minimum pass mark is 75%.