Review of Magnetic Effects Testing—DO-160 Section 15

The Issue

From the beginning of aviation, knowledge of the aircraft direction during flight has been critical to locating destinations. The magnetic compass was used for centuries in shipping, and naturally, it was adopted for aircraft use. Without visible signposts or landmarks, direction relies on the compass to provide the necessary information. The compass aligns with the Earth’s magnetic field pointing north, or we should say magnetic north, which may not be true north depending on your location and the field variations. Advances in technology have provided fantastic tools associated with global positioning that allow us to pinpoint our location, and with minor movements, obtain direction information. However, the magnetic compass remains a critical item in aircraft, shipping, and walks in the woods as a primary or emergency back-up system to determine heading and location. In cases of a power outage or satellite reception interference, the compass becomes the mainstay for aircraft direction information.

Many issues are associated with the use of a compass, but with training and familiarity, the pilot can readily compensate for most issues. However…


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