Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between ADF and VOR

ADF vs VOR : ADF is short for Automatic Direction Finder vs VOR stands for Very High-Frequency (VHF) Omni-directional Radio Range

Aircraft navigation is the art and science of getting from one point to another without losing your way and in the least time possible. Ever wonder how the pilots navigate mid-air or how do they find their way around without getting lost? It’s not like they have Google Maps or something for air navigation because they literally have to navigate over thousands of miles without getting lost. The modern aircraft navigation systems are all digital now and the rapidly evolving technological advancement has made air navigation safer and easier than before. However, one of the oldest forms of radio navigation, the automatic direction finder (ADF), which was a significant update to the manually operated NDB (non-directional radio beacon), is still in use today.

Moving on to VOR, it was probably one of the most significant inventions in the aircraft navigation systems. Short for Very High-Frequency (VHF) Omni-directional Radio Range, VOR is a radio navigation system for aircrafts operating in the VHF band. This navigation system came into effect after the World War II and is still in use today. Thousands of land-based transmitter stations communicate effectively with the receiving equipment on-board to derive the magnetic bearing. VOR is believed to be a little more advanced than ADF. Over time, enormous advances in very shortwave technology have allowed VOR to become a highly advanced navigation aid.

 

What is ADF?

ADF, short for Automatic Direction Finder, is one of the earliest forms of air navigation systems still in use today. It is a short/medium-range navigation system that provides directional information working on the most simple radio navigation concept based on non-directional beacons (NDBs) on the ground. However, as advances were made in the aircraft electronics, the manually operated NDB receiver was soon replaced by the ADF, which could electronically determine the bearing to the NDB and display this information directly to the pilot. NDBs broadcast a simple, non-directional AM signal which can be picked up by the aircraft’s ADF antenna and receiver. Using ADF equipment in conjunction with the aircraft’s heading indicator, the pilot can easily determine the aircraft’s relative bearing from the station and use this information to calculate the distance of the bearing that will lead to the beacon.

 

What is VOR?

Short for Very High-Frequency (VHF) Omni-directional Radio Range, VOR is a short-range radio navigation system for aircrafts which came into effect after the World War II. After the war, VOR appeared to be the most promising means of providing medium-range, en-route navigation. During the mid-to-late 1940s, aviation world was in desperate need for an efficient yet accurate short-range navigation system. Since radio communication systems based on very high frequency (VHF) were already in effect, with the increased demand for spectrum for new navigation systems, a new radio navigation system based on VHF was developed. This system became the VHF omni-directional range (VOR) system. The Washington Institute of Technology delivered the first operating VOR to the CAA in 1944. This experimental VOR operated on a frequency of 125 MHz. In 1946, CAA adopted the VOR as the national civil navigation standard.

 

Difference Between ADF and VOR

  1. Basics of ADF and VOR

 – Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) and VHF Omni-directional Radio Range (VOR) are the two most common methods of navigation that pilots frequently use for short to medium range navigation. 

ADF is one of the earliest forms of air navigation systems based on ground-based non-directional beacons (NDBs). 

VOR is a short-range radio navigation system for aircrafts which came into effect after the World War II. After the war, VOR appeared to be the most promising means of providing medium-range, en-route navigation. The Washington Institute of Technology delivered the first operating VOR to the CAA in 1944.

  1. Technology involved in ADF and VOR

– ADF is a short to medium range navigation system operating within the frequency range 190 to 1750 KHz, i.e. low and medium frequency bands. It uses an orthogonal antenna consisting of two loops; one aligned with the centerline of the fuselage and the other at right angles. ADF receivers are located in the avionic equipment bay which provide the desired output and transmit it to a display to provide the pilot direction to the station. 

VOR is more developed than ADF and is the basis for the current networks of airways that are used for navigation. VOR operates in the range of 108-117.95 MHz range of frequencies.

  1. Working with ADF and VOR

– ADF is based on ground-based non-directional beacons that broadcast a simple, non-directional AM signal that can be picked up by the aircraft’s antenna and receiver. Using ADF equipment in conjunction with the aircraft’s heading indicator, the pilot then determines the aircraft’s relative bearing from the station and use this information to calculate the distance of the bearing that will lead to the station. 

VOR system consists of thousands of land-based transmitter stations that communicate with the VOR receiving equipment located in the aircraft’s avionic equipment bay. VOR navigation system works on the principle of phase difference in the two radio signals – one of which is constant in all directions, while the other is a 360-degree sweeping variable signal.

ADF vs. VOR: Comparison Chart

 

Summary of ADF vs VOR

Both ADF and VOR are the most common and the oldest form of air navigation system which are still in use today, aiding pilots in en-route navigation and piloting the aircraft without getting lost. ADF is one of the earliest methods of navigation systems that pilots still use today. It is a short/medium-range navigation system that provides directional information working on the most simple radio navigation concept based on non-directional beacons (NDBs) on the ground. VOR is believed to be a little more advanced than ADF and has been a reliable system for navigation since the 1960s, and are still in widespread use today.

 

Sagar Khillar

Sagar Khillar is a prolific content/article/blog writer working as a Senior Content Developer/Writer in a reputed client services firm based in India. He has that urge to research on versatile topics and develop high-quality content to make it the best read. Thanks to his passion for writing, he has over 7 years of professional experience in writing and editing services across a wide variety of print and electronic platforms.

Outside his professional life, Sagar loves to connect with people from different cultures and origin. You can say he is curious by nature. He believes everyone is a learning experience and it brings a certain excitement, kind of a curiosity to keep going. It may feel silly at first, but it loosens you up after a while and makes it easier for you to start conversations with total strangers – that’s what he said."

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References :


[0]Image credit: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26429258/figure/fig4/AS:339481203888133@1457950034329/Example-of-NIOZ2-observations-of-very-high-frequency-internal-wave-and-occasionally.png

[1]Image credit: http://krepelka.com/fsweb/learningcenter/navigation/images/automaticdirectionfinder02.jpg

[2]Nolan, Michael. Fundamentals of Air Traffic Control. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage, 2010. Print

[3]Helfrick, Albert D. Electronics in the Evolution of Flight. Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 2004. Print

[4]Wyatt, David and Mike Tooley. Aircraft Communications and Navigation Systems. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013. Print

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