Moving from Magnetic to a True North reference system in aviation

globaltruenorth.jpgAt the Twelfth and Thirteenth Air Navigation Conferences, in 2012 and 2018 respectively, Canada presented working papers with a proposal to move from a magnetic to a True North reference for heading and track in air operations, to enhance safety and reduce the considerable cost of maintaining magnetic variation (MAGVAR) tables. The Conferences recommended that further study on the technical, operational, and economic feasibility of changing to a "True North" reference system should be conducted.  


Canada, in cooperation with the International Association of Institutes of Navigation (IAIN), has been investigating the feasibility of this topic and presented an information paper at the High-Level Conference on Covid-19 (HLCC) in 2021 to provide an update to States. Canada is currently developing a Concept of Operations (ConOps). 


If "True North" reference is implemented among States it would mean the discontinuation of the traditional practice of converting aeronautical data from its original format in TRUE reference into a magnetic reference. It would simplify charting and aircraft operations and may result in considerable cost savings for air operators, air navigation service providers, airports, avionics original equipment manufacturers, and flight procedures designers going forward. 


ICAO has developed a survey to seek feedback from States and their aviation industry on the level of support for ICAO to commence work on changing from a magnetic to True North reference for heading and track in air operations. The survey will also help to identify any concerns or challenges that may need to be addressed if True North reference is implemented.  

1. State Letter AN 11/57-22/87_survey related to moving from magnetic to True north in air operations

2. Survey supporting documents 

3. True North Survey Report (March 2023)


Connect with us: