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Glass Cockpit Planes For Pilot Training

Glass Cockpit Planes For Pilot TrainingA glass cockpit is an aircraft cockpit that features electronic (digital) instrument displays, typically large LCD screens, rather than the traditional style of analog dials and gauges. While a traditional cockpit relies on numerous mechanical gauges to display information, a glass cockpit uses several displays driven by flight management systems, that can be adjusted to display flight information as needed. This simplifies aircraft operation and navigation and allows pilots to focus only on the most pertinent information. They are also popular with airline companies as they usually eliminate the need for a flight engineer. In recent years the technology has become widely available in small aircraft.

As aircraft displays have modernized, the sensors that feed them have modernized as well. Traditional gyroscopic flight instruments have been replaced by electronic Altitude and Heading Reference Systems (AHRSes) and Air Data Computers (ADCs), improving reliability and reducing cost and maintenance. GPS receivers are usually integrated into glass cockpits.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) initiated this study to determine if the transition to glass cockpits in light aircraft has improved the safety record of those aircraft.

Introduction of Glass Cockpit Avionics into Light Aircraft

NTSB Number SS-10/01
NTIS Number PB2010-917001
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Three different approaches were used in this study. First, a retrospective statistical analysis of manufacturer records, aircraft investigation information, and activity survey data was conducted to compare the accident experience of recently manufactured light single-engine airplanes equipped and not equipped with glass cockpit displays. Second, an evaluation of glass cockpit training requirements and resources was conducted to characterize the training and to identify areas for potential safety improvement. Finally, accident cases were reviewed to identify emerging safety issues associated with the introduction of glass cockpit displays into this class of aircraft.

The statistical analysis found that for 2002–2008, light single-engine aircraft equipped with glass cockpit displays experienced lower total accident rates—but higher fatal accident rates—than the same type of aircraft equipped with conventional analog instrumentation. Accidents involving glass cockpit aircraft were more likely to be associated with personal/business flights, longer flights, instrument flight plans, and single-pilot operations, while accidents involving conventional analog cockpit aircraft were more likely to be associated with instructional flights, shorter flights, and two-pilot operations. Accident pilots flying glass cockpit equipped aircraft were found to have higher levels of pilot certification and more total flight experience than those flying conventional aircraft.

The evaluation of light aircraft glass cockpit training requirements found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been updating training handbooks and test standards to incorporate generic information about electronic flight instrument displays. However, current airman knowledge written tests (such as private pilot, instrument rating, commercial pilot, and flight instructor certificates) do not assess pilots’ knowledge of the functionality of glass cockpit displays. In addition, the FAA has no specific training requirements for pilots operating glass cockpit-equipped light aircraft. The lack of equipment-specific training requirements from the FAA results in a wide range of initial and recurrent training experiences among pilots of glass cockpit aircraft. With the exception of training provided by airframe manufacturers with the purchase of a new aircraft, pilots must currently seek out and obtain equipment-specific glass cockpit training on their own.

The review of accidents involving light aircraft equipped with glass cockpits found that pilots’ experiences and training in conventional cockpits do not prepare them to safely operate the complex and varied glass cockpit systems being installed in light aircraft today. Further, the lack of information provided to pilots about glass cockpit systems may lead them to misunderstand or misinterpret system failures. As a result, there is a need for new training procedures and tools to ensure that pilots are adequately prepared to safely operate aircraft equipped with glass cockpit avionics.

The results of this study suggest that the introduction of glass cockpits has not resulted in a measurable improvement in safety when compared to similar aircraft with conventional instruments. The analyses conducted during the study identified safety issues in two areas:

The need for pilots to have sufficient equipment-specific knowledge and proficiency to safely operate aircraft equipped with glass cockpit avionics.
The need to capture maintenance and operational information in order to assess the reliability of glass cockpit avionics in light aircraft.

As a result of this safety study, the NTSB made six recommendations to the FAA: five address training requirements and one addresses reporting requirements.

Glass Cockpit Planes From Aviator College

To meet the new demands of airlines and enhance pilot training, Aviator College has begun an expansion of its all “glass” cockpit planes. The college has just received its first delivery of Piper aircraft equipped with Avidyne Entegra Electronic Flight Instrument Systems, with a second delivery expected in late December. Our ultimate goal is to have our entire fleet equipped with all “glass” instrument systems.

Flight Training Aircraft & Maintenance

Our fleet consists of 14 multi-engine and 12 single engine aircraft
The Aviator fleet is made up of multi-engine and single-engine aircraft. The primary aircraft used in our training programs are the Beechcraft BE-76 Duchess and the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, both well known as training aircraft the world over. Our fleet also includes a Piper Arrow and a J-3 Cub. All aircraft are maintained in our maintenance facilities located here at the St. Lucie County International Airport. We average more than 35,000 hours of flight time per year. They are all equipped for VFR and IFR flight per FAR 91.205 (except the J-3 Cub which is VFR Day only).

Beechcraft BE-76 Duchess

The Beechcraft Duchess, also known at the BE-76, was designed as a general aviation, light twin training aircraft. A little sister to the Beechcraft Baron, the Duchess was chosen by Aviator as our multi-engine training aircraft because of the durability built into the product by Beechcraft. All of the Duchess aircraft at Aviator are equipped for instrument operations with an HSI and a VOR; many of the aircraft also have an ADF. Because the future is area navigation (RNAV), we have multiple aircraft equipped with Garmin 430 GPS systems. Having a broad range of learning options is the best way to help ensure future employment. The Duchess fleet is currently being upgraded to ASPEN glass cockpits. Several aircraft are equipped with weather radar and/or lightning strike detectors.

Cessna 172 Skyhawk

The Cessna 172 is the most widely used primary training aircraft in the world. Aviator uses the Cessna for private pilot and single engine training.


Aviator has its own in-house maintenance facility, a 13,000 square foot environmentally approved hangar. Maintenance is under the supervision of the FAA. All technicians hold Airplane & Powerplant Certificates or better. Maintenance is open six days a week.

* Aircraft are used for flight training only

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Distributed by Viestly

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