Developed in the 1970s but not widely implemented until the ’90s, a glass cockpit offers many advantages to pilots. The proper term, Technically Enhanced Cockpits, refers to the introduction of Flight Management Systems (FMS) to monitor and control the aircraft.
What is a Glass Cockpit?
A glass cockpit is an airplane that features electronic or digital displays on LCD screens as opposed to using traditional analog dials or gauges that were commonly found in an airplane cockpit. Because the newer systems are more automated, they are more accurate and the integration of controls better than in traditional analog systems.
Advantages to Pilots
In a glass cockpit, pilots still use the traditional T-formation scan to crosscheck, but the digital displays make the process faster and more efficient. Data is displayed more clearly, reducing pilot workload and fatigue, and it is less likely that a critical gauge will be missed during the scan. The controls in a glass cockpit have fewer mechanical components to break down or return false readings.
The biggest advantage to a glass cockpit over traditional cockpits is that the automation systems are more accurate, the information is more precise, and the data is displayed more ergonomically. Glass cockpits also include feedback loops and the capability for self-checking to alert the pilot to problems before they become emergencies. The system also provides a checklist for some issues that the pilot can use to attempt to troubleshoot the problem and correct it immediately.
As electronic and digital instruments become more sophisticated, glass cockpits will become standard for aircraft in the future. Although there is additional training necessary for pilots who switch from traditional analog instrumentation to glass cockpits, the accuracy and dependability of the newer systems offer reduced pilot fatigue, resulting in safer flying for crew and passengers.
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