Navigation: Guide to GPS Aviation Devices

gps receiver

To overcome the many deficiencies of air traffic infrastructure, today’s aviators rely on GPS. Thanks to this system’s continuous and accurate coverage, it offers better navigation than ground-based systems. An aviation GPS device can help ease congestion, save time and fuel as well as help with maintaining high safety levels.

Whilst there are devices that use GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) instead of GPS, there are also ones that use both systems which enables them to provide more accurate information. But no matter the system in use, these devices are a must. Today, we commonly see the use of Bluetooth aviation GPS receivers in aviation which are a bit different than your conventional GPS device. So, let’s learn a thing or two about these indispensable aviation devices.

How Does a GPS Receiver Work?

GPS receivers work much like any other receiver they’re just part of a system comprised of satellites and ground stations. A GPS aviation receiver is constantly listening for signals to provide you with real-time data and the multiple signals it gets the more accurate it is. While most GPS receivers can determine your location within a couple of meters, there are more accurate ones that can pinpoint your location within 5 cm of the exact spot you’re in.

aviation gps

What Is a Bluetooth GPS Receiver?

Whilst these types of receivers do the same thing as more conventional aviation GPS devices they provide additional capabilities thanks to Bluetooth. By investing in a quality Bluetooth GPS receiver, you’ll be able to transmit both voice and data to another device. This way, you can send map directions or waypoints to a smartphone, tablet or any other Bluetooth capable device. This allows you to store information elsewhere and use it later on without having to use the GPS device itself.

What to Look for In Aviation GPS?


While there are some handheld aviation GPS units, they can provide the opposite from portability. Yes, they can fit in your pocket but when it comes to keeping them in your cockpit and reading in-flight data it can be a little bit harder. Get a receiver that is going to be both pocketable enough but also easy to set up and use.

Ease of Use

Talking about using the actual receiver when you invest in something that will change the experience for better its crucial to consider how easy it is to implement it. In the cockpit, you’ll be handling different things at a time and there is no time for you to read a manual. Get a device that has a simple UI and controls too so you are not too distracted by it.


Not all aviation GPS receivers are made the same and while they offer some sort of functionality, it’s important to get one that offers what you need most. Usually, devices that are able to provide weather and traffic info with the addition of satellite communication are a great choice for aviation use.


In this day and age, compatibility especially when it comes to smart devices, is key to a more convenient experience. There are some that are only compatible with iOS devices and others only with Android devices but you’ll also find receivers compatible with devices from both platforms. If your receiver can be used with your smartphone then you have that in the bag.

bluetooth gps receiver

Surveying with a GPS device

Marking an area with your GPS aviation device is done by going outside and letting the device determine your location just like you would otherwise. When the device has determined your location, go to the tracking menu. There, you will find that when the track log is on, the device is actively recording your path.

What you want to do is turn on the track log and start surveying/ mapping. When you’re finished, just go back to the same menu and turn off the track log. To add waypoints to your mapping, go to the mark menu and open up the save waypoint function. You are also able to track time intervals and tell your GPS to record your location at any of these intervals.

Select it and the waypoint will be added to the survey. With track log now turned off, you just hop on your computer or get on the device’s phone application and copy the waypoints and tracks. You can then extract this information to any other device and clear the information from your GPS so it doesn’t get its memory full.

To delete track logs select the clear option in the track log menu. Remember, you need to have the track log highlighted for the clear function to work. Once you successfully do so, you will see the memory bar either at the top or bottom drop its percentage or become empty depending on how many logs you’ve deleted. If you have an SD (memory) card in your GPS device then you can put the information there and then put it in your phone or PC to transfer the info.