Based on traditional expressions and spherical trigonometry, at present, great circle navigation is undertaken using various navigational software packages. Recent research has mainly focused on vector algebra. These problems are calculated numerically and are thus suited to computer-aided great circle navigation. However, essential knowledge requires the navigator to be able to calculate navigation parameters without the use of aids. This requirement is met using spherical trigonometry functions and the Napier wheel. In addition, to facilitate calculation, certain axioms have been developed to determine a vessel’s true course. These axioms can lead to misleading results due to the limitations of the trigonometric functions, mathematical errors, and the type of great circle navigation. The aim of this paper is to determine a reliable trigonometric function for calculating a vessel’s course in regular and composite great circle navigation, which can be used with the proposed axioms. This was achieved using analysis of the trigonometric functions, and assessment of their impact on the vessel’s calculated course and established axioms.
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