Are winds aloft true or magnetic?

Winds aloft refer to the prevailing wind patterns at higher altitudes in the Earth’s atmosphere. These winds are primarily true winds, meaning they are determined by the movement of air masses and the Earth’s rotation. True winds are influenced by factors such as pressure gradients, temperature variations, and the Coriolis effect. On the other hand, magnetic winds are not a commonly used term in meteorology. While magnetic fields can affect certain aspects of the atmosphere, such as the behavior of charged particles in the ionosphere, they do not directly determine wind patterns aloft.

Are aviation charts magnetic or true?

Variation plays a crucial role in aircraft navigation. It involves various elements such as runway headings, AWOS, ATIS, tower reported winds, VOR alignment, approach, and airway tracks. These elements are all referenced to magnetic north on VFR charts. On the other hand, TAF, METAR, and enroute winds are referenced to true north. Pilots need to comprehend the connection between true north and magnetic north, locate the appropriate variation values, and correctly apply them to convert between the two directional references.

Are winds in METAR magnetic?

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Are the winds in METARTAF reports magnetic or true?

In METAR reports, the winds are true, while in ATIS reports, they are magnetic, except for Digital ATIS.

Digital ATIS is sourced directly from ASOS, which provides winds in true directions. However, there are 57 sites where pilots are not receiving magnetic winds. Unfortunately, the FAA does not currently have a complete list of these sites. According to Danny Mortensen, a flight crew training instructor for DHL and president of Airline Ground School, the following sites are known to have digital ATIS:


For more information on this topic, please refer to the section on New Weather.

How do you convert winds aloft to magnetic?

Asked by sp_7211872 viewsaloft flight IFR magnetic plan true winds
Instrument Rating
For IFR flight planning, I have learned the following from King ground school videos:

1. Identify the course on the IFR chart, which is magnetic.
2. Find the winds aloft at your altitude, which are true.
3. Convert the wind to magnetic using the magnetic variation on the chart.
4. In this scenario, the true wind is 360 and the variation is 15E (east is least, west is best).
5. Therefore, the magnetic wind is calculated as 360 – 15 = 345.

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During a mock oral for my IFR check ride, my CFII told me that I was wrong in subtracting the wind using the above method. This is confusing because John King, in his IFR flight planning video, explains it the same way. While I understand that John King is not the ultimate authority, he is highly experienced. I would like to hear your opinions on who is right – my CFII or John King.

I need to clarify this before my check ride in 10 days. Thank you.

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Does aviation use true or magnetic north?

The use of Magnetic North in aviation has always posed a challenge for instrument procedures. Modern aircraft and air traffic systems are designed with True North reference, requiring periodic conversion to magnetic north for pilots. This conversion process incurs significant costs for air operators, air navigation service providers, airports, and avionics manufacturers.

This webinar will explore the implications of transitioning from Magnetic North to True North for navigation in aviation. NAV Canada, a leader in this industry effort, will present their findings. Following the presentation, a panel discussion will address the following questions:

– Why do we still rely on Magnetic North for aviation navigation?
– Is the aviation industry prepared to switch to True North?
– How can True North implementation be harmonized across ICAO Member States?

Date: October 27, 2022
Time: 5:00-6:30 am ET / 9:00-10:30 am UTC
Duration: 90 minutes
Venue: Virtual/Online

Webinar access link will be provided 24 hours prior to the event.

To register for this event, please click the Registration button and then select “Register for This Event.” If you do not have an account on the ICAO Event Portal, you will need to request a new registration account by clicking the “Request an Account” link on the left side of the page. Fill in the required information and proceed with the registration.

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Please note that this event is open to all. Select “General Industry/Public” under the “Nominated By” field when registering. No additional documentation is required. For any inquiries, please contact OPSicaoint.

Is wind direction on weather charts true or magnetic?

Finding explicit documentation on wind direction as either true or magnetic on the FAA and NOAA websites can be surprisingly difficult. Local reports, such as ATIS and automated weather, typically report wind direction with reference to magnetic north. On the other hand, longlines reports like METARs, TAFs, and Winds Aloft are given with reference to true north. It may be less commonly known that wind direction for PIREPs is magnetic.

Understanding the difference between true and magnetic wind direction is important for landing and flight planning. When landing, it is crucial to know the wind direction relative to the runway, which is magnetic. When planning flights, it may not be practical to know the magnetic deviation of each location where wind reports are obtained, so getting the report relative to true north is more useful.

When ATC tower or enroute gives wind direction, it will be magnetic unless specifically stated otherwise, as stated in Order JO 7110.65T. The instructions for creating the ATIS also specify that wind direction should be reported as magnetic. The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) provides information on wind direction for the ATIS, including that it is reported as magnetic.

The AIM also explains how runways are identified by numbers indicating the nearest 10-degree increment of the azimuth of the runway centerline. Wind direction issued by the tower is also magnetic, and wind velocity is reported in knots.

Both controllers and pilots should use magnetic directions in their communications unless they explicitly state that they are using true directions.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has received inquiries about the computation of magnetic wind reports from the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS). ASOS encodes wind reports with respect to true north in all METAR and SPECI reports, which are the 5-minute observations and used in the daily weather summary. Magnetic winds are broadcast from the Ground-To-Air (GTA) radio appended to the 5-minute observations and available on several video displays.

ASOS computes the true 2-minute average wind, adds or subtracts the magnetic declination for the site, and then rounds the wind direction to the nearest 10 degrees. If the site has an east magnetic declination, it is subtracted from the true direction, and if it has a west declination, it is added to the true direction. A way to remember this rule is “East is least” (subtracted declination) and “west is best” (added declination).

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Are winds in METAR magnetic?

The winds reported in METAR (Meteorological Aerodrome Report) are always given in true direction, not magnetic. This is because true direction is a more accurate representation of the actual wind flow, unaffected by the Earth’s magnetic field.

How do you convert winds aloft to magnetic?

To convert winds aloft from true direction to magnetic, pilots and meteorologists use a mathematical calculation involving the variation between true and magnetic north at a specific location. The variation is the angular difference between the two norths, which varies depending on the geographical location. By applying this variation to the true wind direction, the magnetic wind direction can be determined.

Does aviation use true or magnetic north?

Aviation primarily uses magnetic north for navigation purposes. Magnetic north is the direction towards which a compass needle points, influenced by the Earth’s magnetic field. It is important for pilots to have accurate information about magnetic north to navigate accurately using compasses and magnetic heading indicators in aircraft.

Are aviation charts magnetic or true?

Aviation charts can be both magnetic and true, depending on the type of chart and its purpose. VFR (Visual Flight Rules) sectional charts typically display magnetic information, including magnetic headings, magnetic variation, and magnetic courses. On the other hand, IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) charts often use true information, as they are more precise and rely on advanced navigation systems that can account for the variation between true and magnetic north.


In conclusion, winds in METAR reports are given in true direction, as it provides a more accurate representation of the wind flow. To convert winds aloft from true to magnetic, the variation between true and magnetic north at a specific location is used. Aviation primarily uses magnetic north for navigation purposes, relying on compasses and magnetic heading indicators. Aviation charts can be either magnetic or true, depending on the type of chart and its purpose. VFR sectional charts often display magnetic information, while IFR charts use true information. Understanding the difference between true and magnetic north is crucial for pilots to navigate safely and accurately.

Sources Link–true-or-magnetic

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