Part 2 — Preflight Preparation


To facilitate the student learning:

  • the background knowledge necessary to operate the GPS receiver in all phases of flight
  • the interface between GPS and other cockpit instruments


A good overall knowledge of GPS will pique the interest of students and enhance their learning experience. A secondary aim is to motivate the student to learn more about the system on their own.

How the GPS integrates with other cockpit instruments is critical to the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft.

Essential Background Knowledge

Explain the general principles of GPS operation:

  • an overview of the system, including the number of satellites, a general description of the orbits and area of coverage,
  • an overview of the general principles of how the receiver determines its position,
  • an overview of Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring (RAIM),
  • an insight into other applications,
  • an overview of similar systems that have been put into service by other nations

Explain the advantages of GPS, including its accuracy

Explain the limitations and possible errors of the system, including database errors and interference from VHF emissions

Explain the basic components of a GPS installation:

  • sensor/navigation computer,
  • database,
  • antenna

Explain the function of the various modes of the GPS receiver

Explain how the GPS interfaces with the CDI/RMI/HSI, if equipped

Explain how the GPS interfaces with the Autopilot/Flight Director, if equipped

Explain how the GPS interfaces with other flight management systems, if equipped

Explain the terms and conditions of the approval to use GPS in Canada

Advice to Instructors

Most manufacturer "Pilot Guides" contain the essential background knowledge and system configuration information to satisfy the requirement of this task.

Remember that students do not have to master all the navigational and other functions of the GPS receiver in order to operate it competently. Ensure they have a thorough knowledge of the functions required to use the receiver for flight in IMC conditions and encourage them to learn the other functions as need or desire dictate.

Use a receiver simulator or the simulation mode of the receiver to demonstrate the various modes and functions of the receiver prior to starting instruction in the aircraft if possible.

Use the aircraft itself on battery power or GPU, if simulator not available.

Review the Aircraft Flight Manual or Flight Manual Supplement describing the receiver installation and emphasizing any restrictions.

Take the student to the aircraft and point out the various components of the installation including the receiver, the antenna and, if equipped, the various annunicators, the CDI, RMI, or HSI and the autopilot/flight director.

Use the attached AIP Special Aviation Notices to explain the terms and conditions of the approval to use GPS in Canada.

Instruction and Student Practice

Demonstrate how to turn the GPS receiver on and the general functions of each of the modes, then allow ample time for the student to experiment with the receiver before beginning the actual operational instruction.

Completion Standards

The student shall be able to:

  • describe the Global Positioning System in general terms
  • describe the major components of the GPS installation and any restrictions contained in the Aircraft Flight Manual or Flight Manual Supplement
  • describe the phases of flight for which the equipment is approved
  • describe the terms and conditions of the approval to use the equipment in Canada