When operating any type of equipment from a cell phone to a jet plane, you’re provided with the status information of the equipment or machinery in question. For example, your cell phone constantly tells you what the battery life is at and how much cell signal you get. Your car tells you how much fuel is left, how fast you’re driving, etc. As the sophistication of the equipment increases, so does the need for accurate and reliable instrumentation.
This is undoubtedly true for aviation. Aircraft pilots need to be able to confidently rely on the provided information to maintain safe flight. There are three main classifications of aircraft instrumentation: flight instruments, engine instruments, and navigation instruments.
Flight instruments are paramount to the operation of the aircraft. Flight instruments parts include an altimeter for altitude; a magnetic direction indicator, which a type of compass; and an airspeed indicator. Additional instruments include an artificial horizon indicator and various other such indicators. These indicators are typically placed in the center of the console or display for visibility to the pilot and co-pilot.
Engine instruments are essential information that must be relayed to the operator continuously. Engine instruments include: fuel indicator; fuel pressure; oil levels and oil temperature; inlet and exhaust temperatures; manifold pressure; etc. Multi-engine aircraft often have duplex gauges that display multiple independent readings. Constant monitoring of the engine instruments is paramount, especially because we rely on the engines to get us from point A to point B.
Navigation instruments are used to maintain and guide pilots on their desired course. Radio waves used to be the biggest part of navigation, now the integration of the Global Positioning System (GPS) is much more common because it offers accurate and reliable information.
These days, there’s been a digital takeover of the cockpit, often replacing analog instruments for a display screen. This advancement in technology is great for decluttering the cockpit. But simple analog instruments are still used for redundancy in the event of electrical issues. These reliable flight instruments are operated by air pressure and gyroscopes.
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