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Thread: Difference between course and heading

  1. #1

    Default Difference between course and heading

    Hello everybody,
    Can anybody explain me the difference between course and heading in brief??

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    San Francisco, California
    Posts
    18,991

    Default

    I Googled course vs. heading and came up with this explanation.



    OK.
    Heading is the direction the plane is pointed and course is the direction
    the plane is actually moving.
    So, as far as the Auto Pilot is concerned, why is there a heading button,
    not a course button? It seems that as far as AP is concerned, course is a
    more important number to enter. Heading will be adjusted by the machine as
    the plane flies. Right?

    Maybe this made it MORE confusing??
    Mr Zippy Sent from my keyboard using "Whackamole", NudgeAKey + 2 Fingers

    No flight Sim installed until I get a new computer.

  3. #3

    Default

    Course is the direction in which the aircraft is flying over the ground. Heading is the direction in which the aircraft is pointing.

  4. #4

    Default

    See it like this... When Tomtom directs you from Amsterdam to Barcelona via Paris, Barcelona is your final 'course', but for now... you're 'heading' towards Paris... (taking in mind that you just left from Amsterdam...)

    Other example: If you're doing an approach for landing at, let's say, LEBB (Bilbao) Airport on RWY 30, your Course is 300 but you can have various 'headings' TOWARDS your final course, Course 300 for RWY 30.

    Hope it helped. I took me aswell quite a long time to understand this difference.

    Greetz, Co-Pilot Diego




  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    I Googled course vs. heading and came up with this explanation.



    OK.
    Heading is the direction the plane is pointed and course is the direction
    the plane is actually moving.
    So, as far as the Auto Pilot is concerned, why is there a heading button,
    not a course button? It seems that as far as AP is concerned, course is a
    more important number to enter. Heading will be adjusted by the machine as
    the plane flies. Right?

    Maybe this made it MORE confusing??
    When in NAV mode the autopilot will steer the plane to fly along a radial of the VOR that the NAV radio is tuned to.
    The course knob is used to select the desired radial.
    This will make the plane fly along a certain path but only when there is a suitable VOR available.

    Some times it is necessary to fly a certain path while there is no suitable VOR available.
    In that case the autopilot can be set to heading mode so that the pilot can point the plane at the right heading.

  6. #6

    Default

    If you're using the autopilot in the heading mode, it will hold the magnetic (compass) heading you were holding when you engaged the autopilot. If there's a crosswind, the a/p will still hold that heading, but the airplane's ground track will drift with the wind.

    If you're using the a/p's Range or NAV function to stay on a VOR radial or a GPS track, the a/p will adjust the heading to maintain the correct ground track (your course). In a strong crosswind from the left in, say, a light plane, the airplane will maintain the correct track (the course with respect to the ground), but the airplane can be pointing 30 degrees to the left (the heading) to maintain that track. The VOR radial defines the ground track.

    Hope this helped you.

    Art

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 1998
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    9

    Default

    The diffrence between a course and heading is the wind correction angle - do a wind triangle problem to find that - Oh never had groundschool - too bad!

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