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Straight and Level Flight – Bank Control – Attitude Indicator

in Attitude Instrument Flying - Electronic Flight Display

This discussion assumes the aircraft is being flown in coordinated flight, which means the longitudinal axis of the aircraft is aligned with the relative wind. On the PFD, the attitude indicator shows if the wings are level. The turn rate indicator, slip/skid indicator, and the heading indicator also indicate whether or not the aircraft is maintaining a straight (zero bank) flightpath.

Attitude Indicator

The attitude indicator is the only instrument on the PFD that has the capability of displaying the precise bank angle of the aircraft. This is made possible by the display of the roll scale depicted as part of the attitude indicator.

Figure 7-52 identifies the components that make up the attitude indicator display. Note that the top of the display is blue, representing sky, the bottom is brown, depicting dirt, and the white line separating them is the horizon. The lines parallel to the horizon line are the pitch scale, which is marked in 5 degree increments and labeled every 10 degrees. The pitch scale always remains parallel to the horizon.

Figure 7-52. Attitude Indicator.

Figure 7-52. Attitude Indicator.

The curved line in the blue area is the roll scale. The triangle on the top of the scale is the zero index. The hash marks on the scale represent the degree of bank. [Figure 7-53] The roll scale always remains in the same position relative to the horizon line.

The roll pointer indicates the direction and degree of bank. [Figure 7-53] The roll pointer is aligned with the aircraft symbol. The roll pointer indicates the angle of the lateral axis of the aircraft compared to the natural horizon. The slip/skid indicator will show if the longitudinal axis of the aircraft is aligned with the relative wind, which is coordinated flight. With the roll index and the slip/skid indicator aligned, any deflection, either right or left of the roll index causes the aircraft to turn in that direction. With the small graduations on the roll scale, it is easy to determine the bank angle within approximately 1 degree. In coordinated flight, if the roll index is aligned with the roll pointer, the aircraft is achieving straight flight.

Figure 7-53. Attitude indicator showing a 15° left bank.

Figure 7-53. Attitude indicator showing a 15° left bank.

An advantage of EFDs is the elimination of the precession error. Precession error in analog gauges is caused by forces being applied to a spinning gyro. With the new solid state instruments, precession error has been eliminated. Since the attitude indicator is capable of showing precise pitch and bank angles, the only time that the attitude indicator is a primary instrument is when attempting to fly at a specific bank angle or pitch angle. Other times, the attitude instrument can be thought of as a control instrument.


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