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Changes in Magnetic North and How It Has Affected the Aviation Industry

Earth’s Magnetic North Shifts

If you’ve ever used a compass, then you’re familiar with magnetic north—the northernmost point of the Earth’s magnetic field.

While magnetic north has always experienced slight changes over time, the transformation it has undergone in recent years is much more significant.

magnetic north shifts affecting aviation

What Does this Shift in Earth’s Magnetic Field have to do with the Aviation Industry?

Well, much like hikers navigating trails in the woods, aviators use compasses to locate runways so that they can land their aircrafts safely.

Of course, getting lost in the woods is one thing; miscalculating the location of a runway is an entirely different thing altogether and obviously, can have detrimental effects.

This is the challenge that airport managers, aircraft controllers, and airplane pilots are facing as the poles continue to shift at a rapid rate.

In fact, Tampa International Airport had to close down runways on January 6, 2011 while they accounted for these changes, eventually renaming one runway that had been called Runway 18R/36L for decades.

By 2011, the poles had shifted to such a large degree that for navigational purposes, the runway was renamed Runway 19R/1L to reflect the whopping 10-degree shift.

magnetic north

Jobs Taking The Challenge… and the Rewards

The people responsible for ensuring the safety of their passengers—namely airport managers—must rely on their own calculations based on geomagnetic information as well as the expertise of others in the field including the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure the accuracy of their compasses.

If they’re off—even by a little—lives could be lost.

air traffic controllers

Perhaps this heavy burden is why aviation professionals take their jobs so seriously and why they are richly rewarded for doing so.

Prepared for this Exciting Challenge?

The Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Management from Everglades University can prepare students interested in the exciting aviation industry to face challenges such as the recent pole shift head on.

Students entering this comprehensive four-year degree program can expect to take informative courses in topics such as

  • Airport Planning
  • Aviation Safety programs
  • Airline Management
  • Many more

Students interested in career in aviation management can view the full degree program description or contact the university directly for more information.

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