Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research


Michael K. Larson






The Global Positioning System (GPS) is currently playing a major role in aviation navigation and is proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be the foundation of the future National Airspace System (NAS). The Position, Velocity and Time (PVT) information provided by GPS for navigation purposes is directly based on Geographic North parameters rather than on Magnetic North, which is currently the foundation of the NAS. This paper uniquely addresses the exploration of this relationship between the GPS and Geographic North by applying an experimental research design to analyze the potential benefit of basing the NAS on Geographic North. This study proposes to quantify the benefits of a Geographic North Model by comparing the performance of navigation tasks by university flight students using a Geographic North model versus those using a Magnetic North model. Similar treatments, consisting of navigational training relating to Geographic North for the experimental group and Magnetic North for the control group, were administered to both groups. Identical navigational tasks were then presented to both groups to perform, using their respective models, and data was collected for the dependant variables of accuracy and time of task performance. The statistical tools of Chi-square and two-tail t-tests with alpha of .05 were applied to the data to evaluate the hypothesis that accuracy and time would both improve with the Geographic North model. The Geographic North group did outperform the Magnetic North group for each dependant variable, but the results were found to be statistically significant for only the time-of-task variable.



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