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Waypoint or Fix

I often hear the terms "fix" and "waypoint" used seemingly interchangeably.  Is there a technical or practical difference between these terms, or are they synonymous?  The Pilot/Controller Glossary has an entry for each with different definitions, but I can't really perceive a difference between them:


FIX - A geographical position determined by visual reference to the surface, by reference to one or more radio NAVAIDs, by celestial plotting, or by another navigational device.


WAYPOINT - A predetermined geographical position used for route/instrument approach definition, progress reports, published VFR routes, visual reporting points or points for transitioning and/or circumnavigating controlled and/or special use airspace, that is defined relative to a VORTAC station or in terms of latitude/longitude coordinates.





dpk1nba's picture
A waypoint HAS TO BE in

A waypoint HAS TO BE in reference to lat/long coordinates and or a point reletive to a VORTAC station.


A FIX can be reletive to ANY radio navaid or can be a point on the ground such as a stadium or lake, etc. or even a gps coordinate or any combination.





Fix vs Waypoint

A fix is used for an instrument landing; IAF initial approach fix, FAF final approach fix.

A waypoint can be used during flight for VOR change over or reporting points for terminal arrivals or departure procedures or something like an RNAV arrival.