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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.

Common Errors in Attitude Instrument Flying with Electronic Displays

Fixation Fixation, or staring at one instrument, is a common error observed in pilots first learning to utilize trend indicators. The pilot may initially fixate on the trend indicator and make adjustments with reference to that alone. Trend indicators are not the only tools to aid the pilot in maintaining the desired power or attitude; they […]

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Scanning Techniques – Selected Radial Cross-Check

The radial scan is designed so that your eyes remain on the attitude indicator 80–90 percent of the time. The remainder of the time is spent transitioning from the attitude indicator to the various other flight instruments. [Figure 6-33] The radial scan pattern works well for scanning the PFD. The close proximity of the instrument […]

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Fundamental Skills of Attitude Instrument Flying

When first learning attitude instrument flying, it is very important that two major skills be mastered. Instrument crosscheck and instrument interpretation comprise the foundation for safely maneuvering the aircraft by reference to instruments alone. Without mastering both skills, the pilot is not able to maintain precise control of aircraft attitude. Instrument Cross-Check The first fundamental […]

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Attitude Instrument Flying—Primary and Supporting Method

The second method for performing attitude instrument flight is a direct extension of the control/power method. By utilizing the primary and supporting flight instruments in conjunction with the control and power  instruments, the pilot can precisely maintain aircraft attitude. This method utilizes the same instruments as the control/power method; however, it focuses more on the […]

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Applying the Four-Step Process to Change Attitude

In attitude instrument flight, the four-step process is used to control pitch attitude, bank attitude, and power application of the aircraft. The EFD displays indications precisely enough that a pilot can apply control more accurately. Pitch Control The pitch control is indicated on the attitude indicator,which spans the full width of the PFD. Due to […]

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The Four-Step Process Used to Change Attitude

In order to change the attitude of the aircraft, the pilot must make the proper changes to the pitch, bank, or power settings of the aircraft. Four steps (establish, trim, cross-check, and adjust) have been developed in order to aid in the process. Establish Any time the attitude of the aircraft requires changing, the pilot […]

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Learning Methods for Attitude Instrument Flying – Control and Performance Method

Aircraft performance is accomplished by controlling the aircraft attitude and power output. Aircraft attitude is the relationship of its longitudinal and lateral axes to the Earth’s horizon. When flying in instrument flight conditions, the pilot controls the attitude of the aircraft by referencing the flight instruments and manipulating the power output of the engine to […]

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Airplane Attitude Instrument Flying – Using an Electronic Flight Display

Attitude instrument flying is defined as the control of an aircraft’s spatial position by using instruments rather than outside visual references.  The improvements in avionics coupled with the introduction of EFDs to general aviation aircraft offer today’s pilot an unprecedented array of accurate instrumentation to use in the support of instrument flying. Until recently, most general […]

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