A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as
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Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this
I’ve heard one of the most frequent violations during FAA
ramp checks is a "bust" for the VOR Receiver Check. Even if you use
GPS as your primary means of navigation there’s a good chance
you’ll need a VOR for at least part of a trip. Flight under
Instrument Flight Rules requires an operational check of the VOR(s)
within the preceding 30 days.
How to Check
You have four options for operationally testing the VORs:
- VOT check. A VOR test facility (VOT) transmits
a test signal used to determine the accuracy of a VOR receiver on
the ground where a VOT is located. Tune the VOT frequency (usually
108.0) and center the course needle; the device should read 180
degrees with a TO indication indicated. Airborne use of VOT is
permitted where specifically authorized in the Airport/Facilities
- Airborne checkpoint. The A/FD also lists
aerial checkpoints. Fly over a prominent landmark while tuned to
the required VOR, and check "needle centered" bearing to that
listed in the A/FD. You can also "make up" your own aerial
checkpoint using a prominent landmark and a known (or plotted)
- Airport checkpoints. Similarly, many airports
have VORs and the correct bearing posted on signs at various ground
checkpoints, such as runway ends or run-up areas.
- Dual VOR check. Probably the most common
method because it can be done anywhere, tune two VOR receivers to
the same beacon and compare indicated bearings with both indicator
Ground checks (options 1 and 3) require the needle-centered
indicator be within four degrees of the "correct" bearing. The dual
VOR check (option 4) requires the two needles, when centered agree
within four degrees of one another. Checks using a single VOR and
an airborne checkpoint (option 2) permit up to six degrees of
variance between actual and expected bearing.
It didn’t happen if it wasn’t written down. FAR 91.171 requires the
monthly VOR check be recorded "in the aircraft log or other
record." The log entry must include DEPS: the date, indicated
bearing error, the place where the check was conducted and the
signature of the person conducting the test. If using option 1 with
a test signal radiated by a Certified Repair Station, an additional
entry must be made in the aircraft log or other record by the
repair station certificate holder or its representative certifying
the bearing transmitted and the date of transmission.
Aero-tip of the day: You don’t want to be
in violation of the regulations; more importantly, you don’t
want to be flying through the clouds with an inaccurate VOR.
Conduct required VOR checks and make repairs as necessary. And
don’t forget to log the results.