noun – navigation using calculations based on airspeed, course, heading, wind direction and speed, ground speed, and time. In the early stages of practical navigation, the student pilot navigates by using dead reck-oning. DR (NOTE: The term comes from ‘deduced’ reckoning or ‘ded’ reckoning.)
In navigation, dead reckoning is the process of calculating one’s current position by using a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time and course. The corresponding term in biology, used to describe the processes by which animals update their estimates of position or heading, is path integration.
Drift is the angle between the heading of the airplane and the desired track. A is the last known position (fix, usually shown with a circle). B is the air position (usually shown with a plus sign). C is the DR position (usually shown with a triangle).
Dead reckoning is subject to cumulative errors. Advances in navigational aids that give accurate information on position, in particular satellite navigation using the Global Positioning System, have made simple dead reckoning by humans obsolete for most purposes. However, inertial navigation systems, which provide very accurate directional information, use dead reckoning and are very widely applied.
By analogy with their navigational use, the words dead reckoning are also used to mean the process of estimating the value of any variable quantity by using an earlier value and adding whatever changes have occurred in the meantime. Often, this usage implies that the changes are not known accurately. The earlier value and the changes may be measured or calculated quantities.
There is speculation on the origin of the term, but no reliable information.