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  Monday 26 June 2017 19:04 GMT  

Aviation Theory

Distance Measurement Equipment (DME)

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INTRODUCTION

The DME is one of those instruments which, once you use it, you don't know how you got along without it. It's capabilities are discussed in the paragraphs from the AIM, below. The DME is normally paired with another navaid, such as a VOR, TACAN, ILS, or localizer. It not only supplies distance information from a station, but when flying to or from a station, also supplies ground speed. While there are some errors due to the fact that it measures slant range distance, for the altitudes flown by most aircraft, the difference between slant range and horizontal distance is not significant.

From AIM 1-1-7. DISTANCE MEASURING EQUIPMENT (DME)

  1. In the operation of DME, paired pulses at a specific spacing are sent out from the aircraft (this is the interrogation) and are received at the ground station. The ground station (transponder) then transmits paired pulses back to the aircraft at the same pulse spacing but on a different frequency. The time required for the round trip of this signal exchange is measured in the airborne DME unit and is translated into distance (Nautical Miles) from the aircraft to the ground station.
     
  2. Operating on the line-of-sight principle, DME furnishes distance information with a very high degree of accuracy. Reliable signals may by received at distances up to 199 NM at line-of-sight altitude with an accuracy of better than 1/2 mile or 3 percent of the distance, whichever is greater. Distance information received from DME equipment is SLANT RANGE distance and not actual horizontal distance.
     
  3. DME operates on frequencies in the UHF spectrum between 962 MHz and 1213 MHz, Aircraft equipped with TACAN equipment will receive distance information from a VORTAC automatically, while aircraft equipped with VOR must have a separate DME airborne unit.
     
  4. VOR/DME, VORTAC, ILS/DME, and LOC/DME navigation facilities established by the FAA provide course and distance information from collocated components under a frequency pairing plan. Aircraft receiving equipment which provides for automatic DME selection assures reception of azimuth and distance information from a common source when designated VOR/DME, VORTAC, ILS/DME, and LOC/DME are selected.
     
  5. Due to the limited number of available frequencies, assignment of paired frequencies is required for certain military noncollocated VOR and TACAN facilities which serve the same area but which may be separated by distances up to a few miles. The military is presently undergoing a program to collocate VOR and TACAN facilities or to assign nonpaired frequencies to those that cannot be collocated.
     
  6. VOR/DME, VORTAC, ILS/DME, and LOC/DME facilities are identified by synchronized identifications which are transmitted on a time share basis. The VOR or localizer portion of the facility is identified by a coded tone modulated at 1020 Hz or a combination of code and voice. The TACAN or DME is identified by a coded tone modulated at 1350 Hz. The DME or TACAN coded identification is transmitted one time for each three or four times that the VOR or localizer coded identification is transmitted. When either the VOR or the DME is inoperative, it is important to recognize which identifier is retained for the operative facility. A single coded identification with a repetition interval of approximately 30 seconds indicates that the DME is operative.
     
  7. Aircraft equipment which provides for automatic DME selection assures reception of azimuth and distance information from a common source when designated VOR/DME, VORTAC and ILS/DME navigation facilities are selected. Pilots are cautioned to disregard any distance displays from automatically selected DME equipment when VOR or ILS facilities, which do not have the DME feature installed, are being used for position determination.

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