August 2009 Issue

IFR GPS: Good, Bad Or Just Ugly?

In a few short years, GPS revolutionized light-plane IFR. Along with the added capability can come higher workload, though, along with greater complexity.

Any instrument-rated pilot who "grew up" before the mid-1990s probably still shakes their head at the way GPS navigation has revolutionized the way we fly IFR. If, Rip van Winkle-like, that same pilot awoke today after a 20-year snooze, he or she would find many different responsibilities and procedures have resulted. The same is true for someone who’s been flying IFR all along but is just now making the upgrade to an IFR-certified GPS. What different rules, techniques and pilot responsibilities do you need to know? How has the workload changed, and are those changes for the better? While no one, including me, would seriously advocate going back to the "old ways" of flying IFR, we also must acknowledge that with the additional capabilities and accuracies of GPS come new and different ways of getting from Point A to Point B, along with skills, techniques and responsibilities for which we might not be trained or prepared.

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