Flight instruments play an important role in modern airplanes. Found in the cockpit, they consist of displays, gauges and control panels. In the past, airplanes used analog flight instruments. Modern airplanes, however, now use electronic flight instruments. Here are five of the most common types of flight instruments used in modern airplanes.
The primary flight display (PFD) is a type of electronic flight instrument that features digital indicators, such as an altitude indicator, airspeed indicator and vertical speed indicator. It’s typically found in the center of the cockpit. Pilots will often use the PFD to identify the airplane’s speed and altitude.
Some airplanes are equipped with a mode control panel (MCP). As the name suggests, it’s a control panel that pilots use to control the airplane. There are different types of MCPs, some of which offer more controls than others. A typical MCP, though, features controls for the airplane’s heading, speed, vertical speed, and altitude. Some MCPs also support autopilot as well. Pilots can enable and disable autopilot via the MCP.
Another common type of electronic flight instrument in modern airplanes is the navigation display (ND). The ND displays navigation-related information. Pilots use it to learn more about the airplane’s route. Among other things, the ND reveals the wind speed, wind direction and the airplane’s planned route.
Some airplanes also feature the engine indication and crew alerting system (EICAS). It’s exclusive to Boeing airplanes. The EICAS is a type of electronic flight instrument that displays information about the airplane’s engines and cabin. Pilots can use it to check the fuel temperature, for instance, and they can use it to check the cabin temperature and cabin pressure.
Only Boeing airplanes use the EICAS. Airbus airplanes have a similar type of electronic flight instrument, but it’s called the electronic centralized aircraft monitor (ECAM), instead.
Finally, there’s the flight management system (FMS). The FMS is a type of electronic flight instrument that allows pilots to check information such as the flight plan, speed, navigation and more. The FMS is a multipurpose flight instrument that automates a variety of tasks.
Electronic flight instruments are essential in modern airplanes. They provide information about the airplane, and many of them support controls as well. There are different types of electronic flight instruments, however, some of the most common being the PFD, MCP, ND, EICAS and FMS.