Ask Captain Dan: Our Resident Pilot Answers Flight Questions. February 6, 2012

CFN – 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.

Question

Are there highways in the sky for airplanes ?  How do the pilots know which way to go and when to turn ?Question asked by Karen

Answer

The sky above us, in aviation industry is referred to as airspace. And yes, in this airspace we have a lot of highways, which are called airways. The airways are of course invisible.  They are created by electronic beams, transmitted by navigation stations on the ground.
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The beams cover an area approximately 14 kilometers wide along the airways.  Electronic receivers in airplanes receive these signals from the ground stations. Navigation displays in the flight deck then show the pilots airplane’s relative position to airways.  From these displays the pilot can tell if he needs to turn the airplane left or right to fly along the centre line of an airway.
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A route from a departure station to destination may consist of several airways.  The pilot will transition from one airway to another at intersection points. This is very similar to driving from point A to point B, where you have to drive along several highways to get to your destination.

In modern aircraft this whole navigational process can be automated.  Pilots are usually in their flight deck seats 30 minutes to an hour before flight departure.  From the flight plan for the flight, they entre airway designators into airplane’s Flight Management  Computer. The computer will then generate a continuous path along those airways from departure to  destination airports.
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The navigation displays in the flight deck show pilots airplane’s relative position to this path. The pilots can then steer the airplane along this path to destination.  To use the automation to its full extent, the pilots can engage their assistant, Mr. Autopilot, to steer the airplane automatically along this computed path.

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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    captaindanbaz@yahoo.com Every week a question from the readers will be selected and answer posted in this column.

Best Western Cornwall

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