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How often do you have to update GPS for VFR / IFR ?

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FAA Regulations, Helicopter

Hello,,how often do you have to update your gps for vfr...and also for Ifr....and could you prove it in the far/aim...   I think its 28 days for Ifr and none for vfr...thanks....

4 Answers

  1. John D. Collins on Jul 21, 2011

    You answered your own question correctly, IFR is every 28 days, VFR is whenever you want to.
    For IFR, you can use some GPS units with an expired database.  Most can be used for enroute and terminal operations with an expired database if the pilot verifies any of the waypoints they intend to use.  This is usually done by comparing the Latitude – Longitude of the waypoint from an official FAA data source, such as from a Low Altitude IFR chart or the AFD.  For GPS or RNAV (GPS) approaches, some IFR GPS units may be used to fly these approaches with an expired database, but the pilot must verify that the “approach data” contained in the expired database is still current.  This can be done by comparing the effective date of the expired database against a current approach chart and verifying that the effective date of the approach chart is the same as the effective date or prior to the effective date of the expired database.  Back in Oct 2009, both Jeppesen and AeroNav added a new date to approach charts which only changes if the change affects the database procedure, so for example a simple frequency change that would have no effect on the database procedure would not prevent the expired database from being used.
    The AIM is not definitive on this subject as it is not regulatory, but the required FAA approved AFMS that must be kept in the aircraft is regulatory and clearly specifies what is permitted.  For example, the GNS430 requires a current database to perform a GPS based approach, but the GNS430W allows the database to be expired if the “approach data” in the database is verified by the pilot to be current.
    The AIM discusses this in the GPS chapter 1-1-19 and in table 1-1-6 specifies what is required for the various operations.  See note 3 to the table.  Make sure the version of the AIM you are looking this up in is the latest, as the wording in this area has changed in the last year and a bit.

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  2. Gary Moore on Jul 21, 2011

    Excellant answer by Mr. Collins!  
    Though I’d make my life simple and just keep the database current.  If there were ever in incident or accident, I gotta believe the expired database is going to be frowned upon 🙂

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  3. John D. Collins on Jul 23, 2011

    I am with you on flying with a current database and keep my own database current.  Even so, there are times when flying with an expired database is the best choice.  The databases expire at 0900 Zulu on the date of expiration.  If you are in flight at that time, it may be better to continue the flight on the expired database. The other alternative would be to turn off the GPS, replace the database (assuming you have a spare that was programmed for the next update), insert the updated database card, and turn the unit back on.  This is not practical in most cases.
    Another case is similar.  You are away on a trip and the database expires on the trip and you don’t have the means of updating the database. Flying with an out of date database that is one cycle old is not much of a burden, particularly if it is the cycle in-between the 56 day TPP cycle that the AeroNav approach charts and enroute low altitude charts are published. If the aircraft is equipped with other means of IFR Navigation, these approaches are not affected with an expired database as the approach may be flown with data solely from a current approach chart.  If I could subscribe to a 56 day update cycle that was updated on the same schedule as the charts at half the price or a small premium to that, that is what I would personally use.
    If flying with an out of date database contributed in any way to an accident or incident, then it would be more than frowned on.  But if the pilot has followed the AIM, their AFMS, has current Charts, and the expired database did not contribute to the accident or incident, there would be no valid reason for the FAA to frown on it, as it is a legitimate operation.

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  4. Christopher Ryan on Sep 09, 2011

    VFR never have to, but IFR every 28 Days if you plan to use it for IFR navigation.

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