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Features September 2015 Issue

GPS Makes Us Lazy

If you’re always flying the magenta line and arriving via pre-loaded RNAV approaches, maybe you’re not working hard enough. In the process, you’re losing critical skills.

Face it: We love our GPS. Many of us fly with two of ’em installed, plus a portable for good measure. It’s arguably the most revolutionary advance in navigation, automation and IFR capabilities. Satellites now allow the most basic aircraft to navigate with amazing precision. However, there are caveats for modern RNAV pilots. We’ve become overly dependent on GPS when it comes to the cornerstone of IFR navigation—situational awareness (SA). That means many of us are losing touch with the basic skill of knowing where we are in our heads, not just on the moving map. Also, like any piece of equipment, we need to use GPS as a tool, not a crutch, especially when a trip changes drastically due to weather, systems malfunctions, and the like.

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