E6B Flight Computer

When you hear “Flight Computer” you would be forgiven for thinking about modern glass cockpits and navigation aids, but the E6B is the original and is still used in Private Pilot Licence training. Of course, there are digital equivalents but training schools prefer the visualisation benefits of the E6B.

What does it do? These flight computers are used during flight planning (on the ground before takeoff) to aid in calculating fuel burn, wind correction, time en route, and other items. In the air, the flight computer can be used to calculate ground speed, estimated fuel burn and updated estimated time of arrival. The back is designed for wind vector solutions, i.e., determining how much the wind is affecting one’s speed and course.

With an E6B, you will be expected to answer questions such as:

1. You take off for a flight at 9:10am. At 9:26am, you pass a landmark 20 NM from your departure point. How fast are you flying?

2. At 92 KTS, how far can you go in 45 minutes?

3. Your plane burns fuel at the rate of 13.2 gallons per hour. How much fuel will you burn in a 3 ½ hour flight?

Many of these questions can be answered with basic mental arithmetic or assisted with a calculator. But the graphic nature of the flight computer helps in catching many errors and allows students to visualise the effect of one factor against another.

If you’d like to know more, here’s an introduction video: