Ask Captain Dan: Do Airplanes Follow Paths? Our Resident Pilot Answers Flight Questions.

Toronto ON – Pilot Dan Baz is answering your flying questions here on the Cornwall Free News.

If you have a question about flying you can email Captain Dan or post below.


It looks like airplanes to the north of my house always seem to follow the same East – West path.  Why is that ?
Question asked my Carson.



There are airways (invisible highways) in the sky that airplanes follow.  The airways are created by  an electronic signal that is transmitted by ground navigation stations.  Navigation receivers in the airplane receive this signal and display to the pilots where their planned airway is.
The pilots can then steer the airplane along this airway.  They can steer the airplane manually, or they can engage the autopilot to do the steering for them.  There are also airways in the sky that do not have the electronic signal.  They are just like an invisible corridor in space.   Some of these are found over land, but also over the oceans where there are no ground navigation stations.
To fly along these airways, airplanes must have an on-board self-contained position determining navigation system, and / or a familiar Global Positioning System (GPS).  GPS along with the airplane’s navigation computers display to the pilots where their planned, invisible corridor or airway is, so they can steer the airplane along that airway.  Again,  they can engage the autopilot to do the steering for them. An autopilot is a great assistant to pilots, especially on long flights and around busy airports, as manual hand steering can be very tiring.  All airways in the sky are depicted on aviation charts.

A bit more about Captain Dan:

Captain Dan Baz enrolled in Flight School at the age of 16.

He has completed studies in Aircraft Engineering and Master of Business Administration. He has been at the controls of many different types of aircraft, from single engine Cessnas to large intercontinental jets on global routes.

Over the last four decades he has flown thousands of hours up in the blue sky.

Have a question for the Captain ?  Send it to Captain Dan Baz Every week a question from the readers will be selected and answer posted in this column.

Best Western

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