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Asked by: 5317 views General Aviation

Teaching pilots in the lower 48, where the FAA is ripping out ADFs all over the place, I don't spend any time teaching ADF.  I noticed and discussed with the local designated pilot examiner, that the FAA written STILL contains ADF questions.  He indicated that he never asks any candidates about failed ADF questions.  He also indicated that the commercial glider written also contains ADF questions.  Does anyone address this another way than just ignoring it and apologizing to the student for the FAA's ineptness?

I explain that the older airplanes that have ADFs have 2 functions, Country Music and Talk Radio.

9 Answers

  1. Micah on Jun 07, 2011

    Add to that: rudimentary strike finder
    I try to teach every system available, not for proficiency’s sake but so that an instrument student can be introduced and have their horizon widened by the experience. It’s frequently hard to find this equipment, however. We discuss the ADF (and using tools on the iPad is helpful, as would be a sim/PCATD if we had local access) and I think it helps explain some pilot errors (liking homing) quicker than other instruments, but unfortunately I am trying to teach from my experience a set of theory that the student won’t find accessible. And maybe I shouldn’t pay attention to it.

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  2. John D. Collins on Jun 07, 2011

    There is a third reason for the ADF, listening to the ball game.


    Joking aside, learning the ADF will help sharpen your student’s basic skills for situational awareness. Since it is still on the knowledge exam, it should still be taught.  Tim’s Air Navigation Simulator is an excellent on line tool that can be of assistance in simulating an ADF or other navigation systems.  I recommend that you look at it and see what you think.  The URL is http://www.visi.com/~mim/nav/ 

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  3. Wes Beard on Jun 07, 2011

    I think teaching the basic skills of the ADF are quite important still today.  First of all, it makes the pilot learn to fly a heading and wait for the ADF needle to move.  It also easily depicts wind correction angles.  It also can provide tremendous situational awareness if used correctly.
    The principles of the ADF are still widely in use today even without the use of a NDB station.  The newer technology, a radio magnetic indicator (RMI), can use either a NDB station or VOR station but the underlying principle is the same as the ADF.  Even in newer glass cockpit there are RMI needles that can be brought up behind the HSI that are quite useful.  These latest systems can use a GPS waypoint and the RMI needle to point directly at the waypoint.  Imagine pointing a RMI needle directly at the Final Approach Fix waypoint with GPS and all of a sudden you get excellent situational awareness on where you are on downwind receiving radar vectors for the ILS.  (Remember the old locator outer markers… they provided the same situational awareness for the pilot).

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  4. James MacGregor CFI on Jun 08, 2011

    If your student flys outside the US things can be a little diffrent, also ADFs have some non NDB uses, if you personaly are comfortable with ADF, teach it

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  5. Kent Shook on Jun 08, 2011

    If you have an ADF with a manual movable compass card you can use it to count landings *while* listening to the ball game! 😉
    If you want to show them some ADF principles and don’t have one available, X-Plane on the iPhone or iPad has a DG with a pointer that points to the nearest airport. On some of the maps (such as Innsbruck, Austria) there are only a few airports so it’s pretty easy to show how the “ADF” needle can be used to set up for a nice landing.

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  6. James MacGregor on Jun 08, 2011

    Also Canada has a few ADF approaches as do many other countries.

    You can use AM stations as nav aids if you know the towers location, also can be used as a lightning finder.

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  7. Jason on Jun 09, 2011

    I recently took the CFI written exam and encountered multiple ADF questions. It was a little upsetting, as I haven’t spent much time learning ADF throughout my flight training. It definitely hurt my score. I had the “what does this have to do with anything?” attitude. It’s true, though, that ADF is still a part of aviation and a useful thing to know and understand in many situations.

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  8. Lucas on Jun 09, 2012

    I posted for another question but this method should make the ADF questions on all tests very easy.

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  9. Retired and still active on Jul 18, 2014

    Folks, talking adf is today talking about the low frequency range in the 1960’s. There are much more important topics especially GPS etc that need to be stressed. it might help if the folks at FAA writing this stuff were pilots who really cared about safety and not just the old grammar school trick question!

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