Real Answers from Real Pilots

Math skills

my math skills are not great. Does Atp help you improve them? I got advice that the skills aren’t complicated they are basic. also does the ils flying become easy? what about dme arcs?

James,

As you said the math is too complicated, really pretty basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The biggest problem I’ve seen is you often have to do the math fairly quickly but most important accurately. While in many things “close” or “almost” is good enough, in math you’re either right or you’re not. While your instructor may offer some tips, tricks or techniques, ATP does not teach math as by the time you’re training you be a professional pilot you really should have the basics down.

Instrument flying, whether its an ILS a DME arc or whatever are skills that need to be learned but once they are I would argue are actually easier than flying visually. Visual flying you’re dependant on sight pictures and other factors that are somewhat based on your own interpretation of what you see, hear etc. Instrument flying by contrast is very exact and specific. At this point you will do X and be in this configuration vs “when you’re coming up on the bridge and the lake is 2/3 up your windshield you kinda wanna bla bla bla”. Make sense?

Adam

Can you get better or faster at the math once you do it a number of times? Also can you use a calculator?

and thank you for your answer as well. much appreciated.

James,

I believe as with most things we all get better/faster with practice and repetition. While during training and on exams you can use a calculator as I said often while you’re flying you may be called upon to do some quick math and might not have time for a calculator. Again we’re not talking anything too complex. For example when planning a hold (or backcourse or an intercept course) you’ll have to come up with the reciprocal heading which is 180deg opposite course. The “skill” is how quickly can you add or subtract 180 from any number from 0-359. That’s really about as hard as it gets.

Adam

Thank you!