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Instrument Flying Handbook Menu >Navigation Systems>Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)>DME Arc

There are many instrument approach procedures (IAPs) that incorporate DME arcs. The procedures and techniques given here for intercepting and maintaining such arcs are applicable to any facility that provides DME information. Such a facility may or may not be colocated with the facility that provides final approach guidance.

As an example of flying a DME arc, refer to figure 7-16 and follow these steps:

1. Track inbound on the OKT 325° radial, frequently checking the DME mileage readout.
2. A .5 NM lead is satisfactory for groundspeeds of 150 knots or less; start the turn to the arc at 10.5 miles. At higher groundspeeds, use a proportionately greater lead.
3. Continue the turn for approximately 90°. The roll-out heading will be 055° in no-wind conditions.
4. During the last part of the intercepting turn, monitor the DME closely. If the arc is being overshot (more than 1.0 NM), continue through the originally-planned roll-out heading. If the arc is being undershot, roll out of the turn early.

The procedure for intercepting the 10 DME when outbound is basically the same, the lead point being 10 NM minus .5 NM, or 9.5 NM.

Figure 7-16. DME arc interception.

When flying a DME arc with wind, it is important that you keep a continuous mental picture of your position relative to the facility. Since the wind-drift correction angle is constantly changing throughout the arc, wind orientation is important. In some cases, wind can be used in returning to the desired track. High airspeeds require more pilot attention because of the higher rate of deviation and correction.

Maintaining the arc is simplified by keeping slightly inside the curve; thus, the arc is turning toward the aircraft and interception may be accomplished by holding a straight course. If you are outside the curve, the arc is “turning away” and a greater correction is required.

To fly the arc using the VOR CDI, center the CDI needle upon completion of the 90° turn to intercept the arc. The aircraft’s heading will be found very near the left or right side (270° or 90° reference points) of the instrument. The readings at that side location on the instrument will give primary heading information while on the arc. Adjust the aircraft heading to compensate for wind and to correct for distance to maintain the correct arc distance. Re-center the CDI and note the new primary heading indicated whenever the CDI gets 2°– 4° from center.

With an RMI, in a no-wind condition, you should theoretically be able to fly an exact circle around the facility by maintaining an RB of 90° or 270°. In actual practice, a series of short legs are flown. To maintain the arc in figure 7-17, proceed as follows:

Figure 7-17. Using DME and RMI to maintain arc.

1. With the RMI bearing pointer on the wingtip reference (90° or 270° position) and the aircraft at the desired DME range, maintain a constant heading and allow the bearing pointer to move 5° to 10° behind the wingtip. This will cause the range to increase slightly.
2. Turn toward the facility to place the bearing pointer 5°– 10° ahead of the wingtip reference, then maintain heading until the bearing pointer is again behind the wingtip. Continue this procedure to maintain the approximate arc.
3. If a crosswind is drifting you away from the facility, turn the aircraft until the bearing pointer is ahead of the wingtip reference. If a crosswind is drifting you toward the facility, turn until the bearing is behind the wingtip.
4. As a guide in making range corrections, change the RB 10°–20° for each half-mile deviation from the desired arc. For example, in no-wind conditions, if you are 1/2 to 1 mile outside the arc and the bearing pointer is on the wingtip reference, turn the aircraft 20° toward the facility to return to the arc.

Without an RMI, orientation is more difficult since you do not have a direct azimuth reference. However, the procedure can be flown using the OBS and CDI for azimuth information and the DME for arc distance.

Function of DME
Intercepting Lead Radials
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