E6B flight computer question. My flight instructor made me return the electronic E6B. Is he being too harshed?

My CFI was so pleased with a cross country flight plan I presented to him. He asked me to show him how I did it so flawlessly. I brought out the weather briefing note, the POH, the airports directory, the nautical chart & the plotter, and lastly my new wonder tool the electronic E6B to demonstrate my superb planning skill. He jumped when he saw my electronic E6B. He made me return it to the airport shop. I told him that electronic E6B is destine to become the most useful tool for future student pilots, but he wasn't impressed.

Electronic E6B


Classic E6B



I really hate using the manual E6B. The truth is that I don't want to have anything to do with it. My CFI was surprised because I have not bugged him on his cellphone or emailed him for the last few days and still I was able to get my flight plan planned out so perfectly. That was the big give away. I guess I will have to go back to square one and learn how to do those tedious computations with the mechanical E6B. Density altitude......rolling distance.....wind correction angle.......ground speed....weight and balance...why do they have to be so complicated ?

13 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I absolutely do not agree with that. He has no place telling you what you can and cannot buy with your own money.

    If he wants you to use an old e6b, that is ok. I have one on my knee board. I know how to do basic stuff with it, but I rarely use it. You should have one, you should know how to use it, but if you want to use an electronic one for your flight planning then do it. It is tedious to do a whole vfr flight plan using the whiz wheel.

    I don't think an instructor should ever insist on you buying, or not buying something. If they are telling you there is something you really need to buy, you should probably listen to them ( I have an IFR chart holder that my instructor wanted me to buy, I refused. He ended up buying it for me, told me to use it and if I ever referenced it in front of him I had to pay him back the $20. I paid him back within the first week, he knew what he was talking about). Go back and rebuy your electronic e6b, I'd suggest buying the ASA one if you can, and keep it at home until you get a new instructor. But do learn to use a whiz wheel, there really are times when it is quicker and easier, not to mention more reliable.


    I get that you don't like using the whiz wheel. They are much harder to learn than the electronic e6b's, but it is the learning that is difficult. What I suggest is you learn how to do the basic functions. Time/speed/distance and fuel calculations. The whiz wheel will do FAR more than the electonic ones will, most of which you will never need to know how to do or ever have a use for. Don't bother with learning all that stuff. In flight the manual e6b is easier to use, quicker and more reliable for simple stuff. If you want to convert celcius to farenheight, all it takes is a quick glance. I know the electronic ones are easier and more accurate, but you can't just glance at it, you have to go through the menues and enter a value. Same is true for time/speed/distance. You enter an appromixate speed once and you are done, from there it is just glancing at the thing. I rarely even use mine for that, but it is nice to know that I have that information at my finger tips any time I want it.

    On the ground, use the electronic one, you can't beat it. In flight use everything you have. GPS, vor's, mental math. That is enough to give you all the information you need most of the time. If you need more information, a whiz wheel is quick and easy to use. If you need more detail or need to calculate something of moderate difficulty, then pull out the electronic one.

    Don't think that you can carry an extra set of batteries and be ok. I was on a night flight with an instructor, and he simulated a battery failure of my flash light. I pulled out another flash light. He took the batteries out of it, I pulled out more batteries. He said those are dead. So I pulled out a glow stick. In defeat he said "Just fly the XXXX airplane." He just wants you to know how to use anything avaliable to you, even though he should not have made you return your electronic e6b.

  • Rob G
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Good lord people! There's nothing wrong with an electronic e6b. Your CFI is just being harsh and thinks that you aren't a real pilot unless you use a manual e6b. I bet he wears a 'pilot watch' with an e6b on it (i.e. something that is a waste of money) and 'top gun' sunglasses. Face it, we are in an age of electronics and there's nothing wrong with using them.

    What happens when your batteries die in your e6b? You take them out and replace them with your spare set in your bag. What happens when those are dead? You use your brain and common sense to get you where you need to be, at the least an alternate airport so you can recalculate your route.

    Cramming those manual e6b's down pilots throats is ridiculous. In my thousands of hours as a general aviation and professional pilot, I have never once used an e6b during an actual flight, other than during a lesson or a checkride.

    To the OP: I'd keep the electronic e6b for your own personal use and just not tell the instructor that you really used that to plan your flight. Get a cheap manual one just to shut him up.

  • greg f
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I think its harsh.. I not only teach the electronic E6Bs I recommend them. If the student has both the manual or wants to learn the manual I tech that too. But this is the 21st century and using the electronic E6B is fine

    Source(s): Flight Instructor
  • 1 decade ago

    1. Yes he was a bit harsh. I would have made you go back and buy a manual E6B as well, and then teach you on both. There are benefits and drawbacks of both, which others have covered in their answers already.

    2. And I would have told you to buy and keep an extra pair of batteries in your flight bag as well. So when the examiner (DPE) simulates battery failure on an electronic one (battery failure, and not the equipment malfunction for any other reason :-)), you would simply pull out new batteries and off you go.

    3. And the old-wives-tales of electronic interference, it's all baloney! FAA would not approve the usage of electronic E6B in the cockpit if that were the case!! And that obviously is not the case. The manufacturers meet the electronic interference requirements.

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Actually, I use the manual E6B - not the handheld electronic version. Batteries can fail, GPS's can fail, electronicsd in general can (and do) fail. I like to keep in practice with the manual aids, so just in case something does go wrong, I will know how to handle it... I was recently co-pilot of a flight, clear Saturday afternoon, no clouds, perfect flying weather. Two hour flight. The PIC asks me to plan the flight, file the flight plan, and fly once at cruising altitude (No autopilot on this A/C). Plane was well equipped with full GPS, avionics, etc. Had to avoid Class B airspace (PIC preference). He was amazed that I did not use the GPS as my primary navigation tool. Used good old fashioned 'Dead Reckoning'. Yeah, a map, compass, and my eyes. Hmmm, isn't that what you do when all else fails?

  • Ron971
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    My CFI was much less obnoxious. Early in my instruction, we were flying along in the midst of a navigation exercise. He noticed I was using my nifty new electronic E6B to calculate wind triangles, decent rates, ground speed, etc. In a moment of feigned fascination he said, "That's a pretty neat gadget, may I take a look?" I happily complied whereupon he remarked, "Oh, look! Your batteries are dead." He turned the device off and stuck it in his pocket saying, "Let's see if you can do without it. Got your 'Whiz Wheel' with you?" Fortunately, I was able to produce the student's E6B that came with my Jeppesen ground school kit.

    Of course, he gave it back after we landed. He made his point that any gadget can fail, get damaged or lost. He had me memorize a few key "rules of thumb" and a couple of trig functions to be able to make "close enough" estimates. Doing so made the mathematical relationships make much clearer sense.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The batteries NEVER fail on the mechanical E6B... Can you say the same about the electronic version?

    The e-E6Bs are great for preflight planning but are known to fail, or to have batteries die. I required students to know how to use the mechanical backup "just in case".... Also, in flight, the mechanical E6B is easier to use for time/speed/distance problems, being "manipulatable" with one hand.

  • 1 decade ago

    Two reasons actually.

    Electronic E6B's have been known to screw up instruments including heading indicator because it can cause a small electrical field which may or may not cause magnetism in a small way.

    Also when you are on a cross country flight, what happens if your battery goes dead?

    They are nice for flight planning assistance, however tried and true always works well.

    Keeps you thinking.

  • There is no problem with using the electronic e6b on the ground. It is all but worthless in flight.

    On your check ride, if you pullout the electric 36b, the examiner is going to pull the batteries to "simulate" complete failure of the unit. You had better be able to use the manual one. That is the reason for the "tough love" from your CFI.

    Me, I would keep the electric one for flight planning and the "written" test. That said, you need to learn and be proficient on the manual version.

  • 1 decade ago

    Kind of harsh, I would have told him "UHHH, no, I kinda like it". BUT he does have the "right" or at least the right to expect you, to do the calculations on the E6B, just in case you need to make an inflight calculation and the durned thing don't work, you will know how to "run" the manual version of it.

    Source(s): In reply to the addition you made to your question, I know you hate it, but consider it, ummm, sort of a badge of honor that you are proficient with it, or sort of like a rite of passage to being a pilot. It is "old school" but there are good reasons, as others have stated, to be good with it. When modern wizardry fails, "old school" will still work. As long as the little pin in the middle don't break, the E6 STILL works!!!
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