Advantages of GPS Inertial Navigation Systems

Co-Pilot conducting a pre-flight system checkAircraft normally have two types of GPS Inertial Navigation System installed: stable-platform and strap-down. Both provide pilots and operators pertinent information about the aircraft’s motion such as its track, alternate destination points, true north direction guidance, and even has the ability to provide and, as needed, recalculate ETA’s. These tools from providers like CAST Navigation can also calculate the distance between two points, even if said two points are off an aircraft’s track.

Being familiar with this important navigational system is an essential part of any navigator’s training. But with the many systems available, how do we know that inertial navigation systems are accurate and reliable? Here are some advantages that could convince you of this technology’s significance in transport and navigation.


An INS operates by making the necessary calculations within its internal systems, which means it has no need for an external NAV source. It gives instantaneous and real-time feedback on an aircraft’s velocity and position vector at any time during a flight. It is independent of altitude which means even people on the ground can work with it as well as people who are miles above in the sky. To compensate for calibration and measurement errors, INS usually pairs up with a GPS system for position reports with much higher accuracy.


These are also known as Gimballed Systems, and they contain an INS’ gyroscopes and accelerometers isolated with the angular motion an aircraft has. Because of this, it keeps itself in sync with the planet’s rotation to provide accurate data. Its gyroscopes provide information regarding the aircraft’s roll, pitch and yaw. It also has three accelerometers that measure different acceleration vectors in the aircraft motion.


Unlike the stable-platform INS, this type of system has no moving parts, which means it is synced with the earth’s rotation regardless of the aircraft’s angular motion. With a direct connection to the airframe, they are susceptible to damage and loss of calibration as a result of extreme maneuvers.

Navigation has never been easier, simpler, and more accurate than before, thanks to these relatively recent systems. It’s always best to keep up to date with training to utilize this useful technology.