Flight Redemptions

What is OBI in Aviation? (Omnibearing Indicator)

Updated: March 06, 2024

What is an Omnibearing Indicator (OBI)?

An Omnibearing Indicator (OBI) is a navigational instrument used in aviation to display the bearing or radial from an aircraft to a selected navigation station. It is commonly found in aircraft equipped with a VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) system, which is a ground-based navigation aid that provides pilots with a reliable means of navigation.

The OBI is an essential tool for pilots as it helps them maintain their desired course by indicating the direction in which they need to steer their aircraft. It provides a visual representation of the aircraft's position relative to the selected VOR station, allowing pilots to navigate accurately and efficiently.

The Functionality of an Omnibearing Indicator

The Omnibearing Indicator consists of a circular dial with a needle or pointer that moves around the dial to indicate the selected radial or bearing. The dial is divided into 360 degrees, representing the full circle of possible bearings from the selected VOR station.

When a pilot selects a specific radial or bearing on the OBI, the needle or pointer will point to the corresponding degree on the dial. This allows the pilot to visually determine the aircraft's position relative to the selected radial. By comparing the indicated bearing with the desired bearing, the pilot can make precise adjustments to their course.

Additionally, the OBI often includes a Course Deviation Indicator (CDI) or a lateral needle that moves left or right to indicate the aircraft's position relative to the selected radial. This provides pilots with real-time feedback on whether they are flying on course or if they need to make corrections.

Overall, the Omnibearing Indicator is a crucial instrument for pilots, particularly during instrument flight conditions or when flying in areas with limited visual references. It enhances situational awareness and helps pilots maintain precision in their navigation.

Using the Omnibearing Indicator in Navigation

When using an OBI for navigation, pilots typically follow a series of steps to ensure accurate course tracking:

1. Selecting the VOR Station

The first step is to select the appropriate VOR station based on the desired course or navigation route. Pilots can refer to aeronautical charts or their flight plan to determine the appropriate VOR station to tune into.

Once the VOR station is selected, the pilot will input the station's frequency into the aircraft's navigation radio system. This allows the OBI to receive signals from the VOR station and display the corresponding radials or bearings.

2. Identifying the Desired Radial

After selecting the VOR station, the pilot needs to identify the desired radial or bearing to navigate along. This is typically based on the planned route or the direction to the next navigation fix.

The pilot will then input the desired radial into the OBI by rotating the course selector knob. This aligns the needle or pointer with the selected radial on the dial.

3. Monitoring and Making Course Corrections

Once the desired radial is set, the pilot can monitor the OBI for deviations from the selected course. The CDI, or lateral needle, will move left or right depending on the aircraft's position relative to the selected radial.

If the CDI is centered, the aircraft is on the selected radial. However, if the CDI deviates to the left or right, the pilot needs to make course corrections to bring the aircraft back onto the desired course.

By continuously monitoring the OBI and making appropriate adjustments, pilots can navigate accurately and maintain their planned course throughout the flight.


The Omnibearing Indicator (OBI) is a vital instrument in aviation, particularly for aircraft equipped with a VOR system. It provides pilots with essential information about their position relative to a selected VOR station, allowing them to navigate accurately and efficiently.

By understanding how to use the OBI and interpret its indications, pilots can maintain their desired course and make necessary corrections to stay on track. The OBI enhances situational awareness and contributes to the overall safety and efficiency of flights.

Aviation relies on a multitude of instruments and systems to ensure safe and precise navigation. The Omnibearing Indicator is just one of many tools available to pilots, but its importance cannot be overstated. With the OBI's assistance, pilots can confidently navigate through the skies, reaching their destinations with accuracy and precision.

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