Using a handheld for a "direct to" clearance

Fly_Unity

Well-Known Member
Can you use a handheld on a part 91 flight to accept a direct to clearance?

I say "no" because the AIM 1-1-19 tbl 1-1-6.


However there are pilots who say yes because they are not using the handheld as their primary source of navigation. They say VOR cross checks/corrections, OR dead reckoning can be used as primary source.

So I can acccept a direct to a destination clearance, as long as I checked the winds aloft, find what heading I need to fly in order to track direct, then go fly it without any navigation instruments?

John Deakin explains how it is legal..
http://www.warmkessel.com/jr/flying/td/jd/11.jsp
 

Der_Meister

Well-Known Member
Sec. 91.181 — Course to be flown.

Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, no person may operate an aircraft within controlled airspace under IFR except as follows:
(a) On an ATS route, along the centerline of that airway.
(b) On any other route, along the direct course between the navigational aids or fixes defining that route. However, this section does not prohibit maneuvering the aircraft to pass well clear of other air traffic or the maneuvering of the aircraft in VFR conditions to clear the intended flight path both before and during climb or descent.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
To to "cleared direct XXXXX fix" when using a VFR-only GPS has always been a no-no to me. However, what I understand to be legal, is to punch in direct to wherever you want to go, and look at the direct heading it gives you and say "hey center, how about a head of XXX degrees for XXXXX fix." Controllers know exactly what you're doing when you say this, but since he/she gave you a clearance with a heading (or they may say "fly heading XXX for now, cleared direct XXXXX when able"), it is legal.
 

CoffeeIcePapers

Well-Hung Member
To to "cleared direct XXXXX fix" when using a VFR-only GPS has always been a no-no to me. However, what I understand to be legal, is to punch in direct to wherever you want to go, and look at the direct heading it gives you and say "hey center, how about a head of XXX degrees for XXXXX fix." Controllers know exactly what you're doing when you say this, but since he/she gave you a clearance with a heading (or they may say "fly heading XXX for now, cleared direct XXXXX when able"), it is legal.
This is the way it is explained in the Everything Explained book. Not sure how well it stands up to FAA legal scrutiny, but I have never heard of it being a problem. From my understanding, it is pretty common.
 

Fly_Unity

Well-Known Member
I know vectors has always been legal. Thats not the debate. I just never heard of dead reckoning being legal in IMC
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
If ATC asks you what heading YOU want, then you are dead reckoning... how you determined that heading is not their concern. You requested it. I think it's different from vectors, where there is an expectation that THEY are providing course guidance.

I think the exchange where someone says "hey can I get direct BFE, I'm handheld vfr-only gps" and ATC says "what heading do you want?"...... could just as easily be this exchange: "hey can I get direct BFE, I'm whizwheel only" and ATC says "what heading do you want?"
 

TwoTwoLeft

o- - - - - - -l
From what I've seen it all depends on your equipment suffix. ATC is not going to give a /U or /A direct to anything other than a VOR or NDB. If you file /U or /A and request direct to an intersection they're gonna know... The intersection has to be defined by a radial, cross radial and/or DME. Even with vectors, how can you go direct to something you can't see and verify that you are there? You need a radial intercept and corse to follow to the DME or cross radial to ID the fix.


Now there's absolutely nothing wrong with building your route in the handheld and using it for a "back up" if all your certified primary NAV equipment is working.
 

msmspilot

Well-Known Member
From what I've seen it all depends on your equipment suffix. ATC is not going to give a /U or /A direct to anything other than a VOR or NDB.
Haha, you're funny. I was cleared for a GPS approach in a /U. True story. and I get "direct (intersection)" in /A and /U ALL THE TIME.

The only problem I have with filing direct and using dead reckoning is that the AIM (which I acknowledge is not regulatory... sort of) says that's not the right way to do it. Now, has the FAA or NTSB ever blamed a crash on an improperly filed flight plan? Not that I know about.

I do the "heading xxx, direct when able" all the time. I choose not to file direct when I'm not in a plane with area navigation equipment.
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
Simple illustration of how and why DR is legal and sometimes the only option.

You depart 2D5, filed GICAY - V170 - JMS - V2 - BIS. You get your clearance on the phone, take off and enter clouds but have no usable VOR signal until you gain some altitude...is it illegal to fly? Of course not, you just point the nose in the right direction, you are dead reckoning.

Now what's the difference between that and once you get up in the air saying "request heading 280 (assuming no wind for simplicity), direct BIS when able". You're doing the exact same thing...dead reckoning until you have a usable signal off BIS. If you happen to have a Garmin handheld or iPad or whatever else in your lap, all the better, but you dont need it to get to BIS.





 

TwoTwoLeft

o- - - - - - -l
Could do that with a single old worn out VOR head.
In a reasonable amount of time... :D

Haha, you're funny. I was cleared for a GPS approach in a /U. True story. and I get "direct (intersection)" in /A and /U ALL THE TIME.

The only problem I have with filing direct and using dead reckoning is that the AIM (which I acknowledge is not regulatory... sort of) says that's not the right way to do it. Now, has the FAA or NTSB ever blamed a crash on an improperly filed flight plan? Not that I know about.

I do the "heading xxx, direct when able" all the time. I choose not to file direct when I'm not in a plane with area navigation equipment.
Where do you fly mostly? That's good to know, especially in an unfamiliar area.

Lately all the IFR flying I've done /A equipped has mostly been with military approach controllers. Other than that, for that least 10 years it's been all /G so the issue never came up. Before that, when I flew /A GPS was still pretty new. Even then, initial vectors or routing would take us to the IAF for the active VOR. We had to practically beg for a GPS approach.

When we first started teaching with a IFR GPS, there were a few interesting departures here in SoCal where ATC was still thinking VORs. On one they would be vectoring you for terrain then clear you direct XXX when able. Because of the terrain and the VORs location, you wouldn't receive it until you were above the MVA and ATC knew this. Now with GPS you are "able" NAV wise as soon as ATC says it...
 

TwoTwoLeft

o- - - - - - -l
OAKES, ND
OAKES MUNI (2D5) AMDT 1 11125 (FAA)
NOTE: Rwy 12, trees beginning 2071' from DER, left and right of centerline, up to 100' AGL/1459' MSL. Rwy 30, trees beginning 2509' from DER, 744' left of centerline, up to 100' AGL/1454' MSL

Not so bad when you're not in "mountainous" terrain.
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
Not so bad when you're not in "mountainous" terrain.
Yeah I just picked that location with a quick scroll through skyvector.com to provide the simple illustration. Lots more rocks in the clouds out here than in the midwest :)
 

TwoTwoLeft

o- - - - - - -l
rframe Check this out....


http://skyvector.com/?ll=34.59136674837429,-120.1021969428477&chart=403&zoom=2

LOMPOC, CA
LOMPOC TAKEOFF MINIMUMS: Rwy 7, std. with a min. climb of
425' per NM to 1400, or 1000-3 for climb in visual
conditions. DEPARTURE PROCEDURE: Rwy 7, climbing right turn.
For climb in visual conditions: cross Lompoc Airport eastbound at or above 1200 MSL. Rwy 25, turn right heading 130°.
All aircraft climb to 6000 via GVO R-278 to GVO VORTAC. Aircraft departing GVO R-120 CW R-020 climb on course, all others climb in GVO holding pattern (NW, right turns, 127° inbound) to depart GVO VORTAC at or above MEA for route of flight.
NOTE: Rwy 7, trees 3583' from DER, 2.3 NM right of centerline, 50' AGL/889' MSL. Trees 1.2 NM from DER, 2.2 NM right of centerline, 50' AGL/791' MSL. Trees 1.6 NM from DER, 1.9 NM right of centerline, 50' AGL/743' MSL.


It took a while for me to get used to flying IFR in the midwest, till I realized there were no mountains to run into. Everything was go direct, and obstacle departures just tell you where the trees and radio antennas are. Instead of headings, they just say things like "stay south of rwy centerline"...
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
I have yet to fly in any actual out here, but just the thought of mountains in the clouds makes me a little puckery...
 

TwoTwoLeft

o- - - - - - -l
I have yet to fly in any actual out here, but just the thought of mountains in the clouds makes me a little puckery...
In small airplanes not certed for FIKI it's a challenge. In a C150, you really need to get creative... During the winter, most of the time, if you cant go under VFR, you don't go. The MEA just to get from CMA to BFL is 10K... Along the coast with the stratus layer, its not so bad.


Now, I grew up flying out west. Because of mountains, restricted areas and MOA you use the "measure 3 times, cut once" mentality when planning direct with GPS. If you do any kind of flying in the deserts of the southwest, Airways are often the easiest routing around restricted areas, unless center clears you through.

One thing I don't really understand in John Deakin's write up is why he drives so hard to get direct routing from ATC. It seems he's creating more problems than solving. All the IFR flying I've done below 18K, I just file the route via airway/preferred routing and once I'm up, ATC will usually give me direct XXX with out me even having to ask for it. If I have to ask for it, 90% of the time I will get it. It's really not that big of a deal.
 
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