Feedback on AIS from a serving Pilot

01 Jul 2010 Resource

Feedback from a serving Pilot, suggesting improvements from his point of view.

Although I am reaching the end of my pilot career the AIS and digital charting technology are of great interest to me. As an early adopter of GPS/digital charting it has been necessary to understand or overcome some of the built in system flaws - this Forum was one of my early sources of info.

IMO (In My Opinion), the navigation AIS/GPS is the most useful safety advance since the introduction of VHF-FM radio in the 1960s. As I understand the AIS was NOT originally designed for pilot navigation so it is natural to have a few system flaws. Hopefully the next generation of pilots and technicians will correct those.

For example my navigation software displays rate of turn but the AIS transmits only whole degrees of heading. The rate of turn or more important the initial direction of heading change would be more useful if AIS transmitted whole degrees and tenths. The tenths are usually available by gyro transponder but just not used by the AIS. Likely only the pilot will see a need/use/benefit from tenth of degree heading so the oversight was understandable.

AIS/GPS detail to be listed on the pilot information cards would be a good idea. Since many of us pilots have been using laptop navigation systems working off the ship pilot plug I think quick access to the ship system setup would be useful. For example a ship might give me their radar setup on the info card but no note on whether their navigation GPS is set to average over 120 seconds or 0 seconds. I also try to verify whether the ship L x B and antenna location are correctly input.

This type of detail is never found on the pilot card.