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How To Intercept and Track Radials using the VOR in your Airplane

VOR Intercepts Explained Canada PilotVOR frequencies range from 108.0 to 117.95 Mhz. They are ground based stations. They can be found on the VNC and in the CFS. Each station has a morse code identifier. The airbourne equipment consists of a receiver, an indicator instrument, and an antenna. VOR reception is mainly free from interference, however, it is limited to line of sight.

How to use a VOR for Navigation in the Airplane to Fly Directly to a Station From Your Current Position

First you need to tune into and identify the VOR. Next, turn the OBS knob on the VOR instrument until the CDI needle is centred and you have a FROM indication. You have just found the radial on which you are flying. To fly TO the station on the radial you have just identified turn the OBS to the reciprocal radial and turn the plane to fly that heading, keeping the needle centred, until you reach the station.

Position Sensitive

Remember VORs are position sensitive, not heading sensitive like ADFs/NDBs. That means the VOR does not care what direction you are flying. The easiest way to intercept and track a VOR radial is to dial in the desired radial on the OBS, look to which side the CDI needle deflects, and then fly towards the magnetic heading the CDI is deflected towards at the desired intercept angle. For example, if you wanted to intercept a 045 TO radial (actually the 225 radial) and the CDI needle deflected to the right you would then fly the plane at 060° to intercept the radial at a 15° intercept angle. Even though the needle deflected right you might turn the plane left. It would depend on which direction you were flying. Just look at the OBS compass rose and fly the magnetic heading to the side which the CDI deflected at the desired intercept angle.

Here is a YouTube video that aims to give you an idea of how intercepting a VOR radial works in the airplane.

Check out more in our Ex 24 – Instrument Flying course.


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