Meaning | Concept | Definition:
The term “glass cockpit” describes an upgrade to an aircraft’s flight deck, whereby it features digital displays instead of traditional analog gauges. Typically installed on jets and high-end general aviation aircraft, a glass cockpit provides pilots with a higher level of information in a more efficient manner compared to conventional cockpits.
The screens vary in size and are capable of displaying navigation, system and weather information in a very organized manner. This type of instrumentation is useful to the flight crew, who can collect more information in a shorter period of time.
Advanced fighter jets, like the F-22 Raptor, have instrument panels that consist entirely of digital displays.
The main purpose of a glass cockpit system is to improve the situational awareness of the flight crew. Pilots can monitor aircraft systems, such as engines, hydraulics, and pneumatics, with the push of a button. With conventional cockpit layouts, pilots must refer to many different instruments to get the same information. Glass cockpit systems come in different levels of complexity, with some including traffic announcements, weather data links, and even satellite radio.
General aviation aircraft with glass cockpit systems often feature two or three displays along with supporting instruments. These backup instruments are necessary in case of failure of the primary system.
General aviation aircraft with this type of system also have a backup battery to supplement the primary battery, both of which can be recharged by the aircraft’s alternator. Pilots should consider completing additional training with a certified flight instructor before moving from traditional aircraft instrumentation to glass cockpit systems.
Highly sophisticated glass cockpit systems, such as those found on commercial airliners, feature a design consisting of a multifunction flight display (MFD), a primary flight display (PFD), and an indicating system. engine and crew alert (EICAS). The PFD contains flight information such as attitude, heading, speed, and altitude.
Navigation, temperature, and ground speed, along with system-specific information, are found on the MFD. The EICAS screen displays engine data, landing gear and flap indications, fuel levels, and text warnings related to system faults.
One of the main advantages of glass cockpits is what pilots refer to as “ordering” of information. Minor indications and issues that do not pertain to the current situation are often removed from immediate view.
For example, a glass cockpit system can eliminate the indicator responsible for determining the presence of a ground power source while the aircraft is in flight. This type of automation allows pilots to attend to more important tasks without unnecessary distractions.