What is DIR TO on Airbus A320? (Direct To)

When it comes to flying an Airbus A320, it’s essential for pilots to have a clear understanding of the various onboard systems and functionalities available to them. One such feature is known as “Direct To,” abbreviated as DIR TO. In this article, we will explore what Direct To is and how it is utilized in the context of Airbus A320 operations.

Understanding Direct To

Direct To refers to a navigation feature on the Airbus A320 that allows the pilot to input a direct course to a specific waypoint or destination. It enables a quick and efficient way to navigate to a chosen point without following the pre-planned route. This feature comes in handy in situations where an immediate diversion or change in flight path is necessary.

During a flight, pilots typically follow a pre-determined flight plan that outlines the waypoints and routes to be followed. However, there are occasions when a change in plans is required due to weather conditions, air traffic control instructions, or any other unforeseen circumstances. In such cases, the Direct To feature allows pilots to swiftly adjust their route and head directly to the desired waypoint.

The Airbus A320’s Flight Management System (FMS) plays a vital role in providing the Direct To functionality. Pilots can interact with the FMS through the Multifunction Control and Display Unit (MCDU), a central interface located in the cockpit. By accessing the MCDU, pilots can easily enter a new course and activate the Direct To function.

Once activated, the Direct To feature calculates the required heading and distance to reach the selected waypoint, taking into account factors such as wind speed and aircraft performance data. The FMS continuously updates this information, ensuring accurate navigation and helping pilots make informed decisions while flying the Airbus A320.

Utilizing Direct To in Practice

In practical terms, the Direct To feature allows for several operational benefits in Airbus A320 aircraft. Let’s explore these benefits in detail:

1. Flexibility in Route Changes

During a flight, unforeseen circumstances may require pilots to adjust their route. This could be due to weather conditions, air traffic congestion, or any other factor that necessitates a deviation from the original flight plan. Rather than manually calculating and adjusting headings, the Direct To feature simplifies the process by providing an automated solution.

By inputting a new waypoint into the MCDU, pilots can quickly reroute the aircraft to navigate around any obstacles or unfavorable conditions. The Direct To function instantly calculates the necessary course corrections, reducing the workload on the flight crew and ensuring a smoother and more efficient flight.

2. Emergency Diversion

During rare emergency scenarios, the Direct To feature can be a crucial tool for pilots to quickly divert their aircraft to an alternate airport or landing site. In situations where time is of the essence, the ability to input a direct course to the nearest suitable location can significantly enhance the safety and efficiency of the operation.

For example, if an aircraft encounters severe weather, an engine malfunction, or any other critical issue that requires an immediate landing, the Direct To feature allows pilots to swiftly navigate towards the closest airport capable of handling the situation. This feature ensures a timely response to emergencies, enabling the flight crew to prioritize the safety and well-being of passengers and crew members.

3. Fuel Efficiency

Efficient fuel management is a top priority for airlines and pilots operating Airbus A320 aircraft. The Direct To feature can contribute to fuel savings by enabling pilots to optimize their flight paths and reduce unnecessary deviations.

When unforeseen circumstances necessitate a route change, the Direct To function calculates the most direct and fuel-efficient path to the desired waypoint. By minimizing the distance traveled and considering factors such as wind speed and direction, the feature assists pilots in making informed decisions to conserve fuel.

Fuel optimization not only reduces costs for airlines but also contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly aviation industry. With the Direct To feature, pilots can strive for optimal fuel efficiency without compromising safety or operational requirements.


The Direct To feature on the Airbus A320 brings flexibility, efficiency, and enhanced safety to flight operations. With the ability to quickly reroute the aircraft, respond to emergencies, and optimize fuel usage, this functionality proves invaluable to pilots navigating the skies in these modern aircraft.

By understanding the Direct To feature and the capabilities it offers, pilots can make the most out of their Airbus A320’s navigation systems and deliver a smooth and enjoyable flying experience for passengers.

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