Weekly tips, technique and training from IFR.

Features September 2014 Issue

Altitude vs. Height

Your normal altimeter setting is QNH. QFE reads height AGL. Set it to AGL before descent or to zero on the ground.

Altitude vs. Height

Aircraft fly in three dimensions. The flat two dimensions are easy to deal with, but sometimes that vertical dimension causes us some confusion.

In his June 2014 article, “Know Your Height AGL,” Frank Bowlin explained the potential uses of a radar altimeter. As I read that, I reflected on my airline days where we used a pressure altimeter set to read our height above the airport. In contrast to costs of many thousands of dollars for a radar altimeter, some of the same—and critical—benefits can be had for a thousand dollars or less by purchasing and installing an altimeter dedicated to read QFE, or height above the airport. Sometimes QFE is even better.

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