Northerly Turning Errors
The center of gravity of the float assembly is located lower than the pivotal point. As the airplane turns, the force that results from the magnetic dip causes the float assembly to swing in the same direction that the float turns. The result is a false northerly turn indication. Because of this lead of the compass card, or float assembly, a northerly turn should be stopped prior to arrival at the desired heading. This compass error is amplified with the proximity to either pole. One rule of thumb to correct for this leading error is to stop the turn 15° plus half of the latitude (i.e., if the airplane is being operated in a position around the 40° of latitude, the turn should be stopped 15° + 20° = 35° prior to the desired heading). [Figure 5-20A]
Southerly Turning Errors
When turning in a southerly direction, the forces are such that the compass float assembly lags rather than leads. The result is a false southerly turn indication. The compass card, or float assembly, should be allowed to pass the desired heading prior to stopping the turn. As with the northerly error, this error is amplified with the proximity to either pole. To correct this lagging error, the aircraft should be allowed to pass the desired heading prior to stopping the turn. The same rule of 15° plus half of the latitude applies here (i.e., if the airplane is being operated in a position around the 30° of latitude, the turn should be stopped 15° + 15° + 30° after passing the desired heading). [Figure 5-20B]
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The magnetic dip and the forces of inertia cause magnetic compass errors when accelerating and decelerating on Easterly and westerly headings. Because of the pendulous-type mounting, the aft end of the compass card is tilted upward when accelerating, and downward when decelerating during changes of airspeed. When accelerating on either an easterly or westerly heading , the error appears as a turn indication toward north. When decelerating on either of these headings, the compass indicates a turn toward south. The word “ANDS” (Acceleration-North/Deceleration-South) may help you to remember the acceleration error. [Figure 5-21]
Oscillation is a combination of all of the other errors, and it results in the compass card swinging back and forth around the heading being flown. When setting the gyroscopic heading indicator to agree with the magnetic compass, use the average indication between the swings.
The Vertical Card Magnetic Compass
The floating magnet type of compass not only has all the errors just described, but also lends itself to confused reading. It is easy to begin a turn in the wrong direction because its card appears backward. East is on what the pilot would expect to be the west side. The vertical card magnetic compass eliminates some of the errors and confusion. The dial of this compass is graduated with letters representing the cardinal directions, numbers every 30°, and marks every 5°. The dial is rotated by a set of gears from the shaft-mounted magnet, and the nose of the symbolic airplane on the instrument glass represents the lubber line for reading the heading of the aircraft from the dial. Eddy currents induced into an aluminum-damping cup damp oscillation of the magnet. [Figure 5-22]
The Flux Gate Compass System
As mentioned earlier, the lines of flux in the Earth’s magnetic field have two basic characteristics: a magnet aligns with these lines, and an electrical current is induced, or generated, in any wire crossed by them.
The flux gate compass that drives slaved gyros uses the characteristic of current induction. The flux valve is a small, segmented ring, like the one in Figure 5-23, made of soft iron that readily accepts lines of magnetic flux. An electrical coil is wound around each of the three legs to accept the current induced in this ring by the Earth’s magnetic field. A coil wound around the iron spacer in the center of the frame has 400-Hz alternating current (A.C.) flowing through it. During the times when this current reaches its peak, twice during each cycle, there is so much magnetism produced by this coil that the frame cannot accept the lines of flux from the Earth’s field.
But as the current reverses between the peaks, it demagnetizes the frame so it can accept the flux from the Earth’s field. As this flux cuts across the windings in the three coils, it causes current to flow in them. These three coils are connected in such a way that the current flowing in them changes as the heading of the aircraft changes. [Figure 5-24]
The three coils are connected to three similar but smaller coils in a synchro inside the instrument case. The synchro rotates the dial of a radio magnetic indicator (RMI) or a horizontal situation indicator (HSI).
Remote Indicating Compass
Remote indicating compasses were developed to compensate for the errors and limitations of the older type of heading indicators. The two panel-mounted components of a typical system are the pictorial navigation indicator and the slaving control and compensator unit. [Figure 5-25] The pictorial navigation indicator is commonly referred to as an HSI.
The slaving control and compensator unit has a pushbutton that provides a means of selecting either the “slaved gyro” or “free gyro” mode. This unit also has a slaving meter and two manual heading-drive buttons. The slaving meter indicates the difference between the displayed heading and the magnetic heading. A right deflection indicates a clockwise error of the compass card; a left deflection indicates a counterclockwise error. Whenever the aircraft is in a turn and the card rotates, the slaving meter shows a full deflection to one side or the other. When the system is in “free gyro” mode, the compass card may be adjusted by depressing the appropriate heading-drive button.
A separate unit, the magnetic slaving transmitter is mounted remotely; usually in a wingtip to eliminate the possibility of magnetic interference. It contains the flux valve, which is the direction-sensing device of the system. A concentration of lines of magnetic force, after being amplified, becomes a signal relayed to the heading indicator unit, which is also remotely mounted. This signal operates a torque motor in the heading indicator unit that processes the gyro unit until it is aligned with the transmitter signal. The magnetic slaving transmitter is connected electrically to the HSI.
There are a number of designs of the remote indicating compass; therefore, only the basic features of the system are covered here. Instrument pilots must become familiar with the characteristics of the equipment in their aircraft.
As instrument panels become more crowded and the pilot’s available scan time is reduced by a heavier flight deck workload, instrument manufacturers have worked toward combining instruments. One good example of this is the RMI in Figure 5-26. The compass card is driven by signals from the flux valve, and the two pointers are driven by an automatic direction finder (ADF) and a very high frequency omnidirectional range (VOR).