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Conventional Cockpit Versus Glass Cockpit

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Your Dashboard in Sky

Getting a glimpse of cockpit of an airliner while boarding or de-boarding an aircraft in earlier days, we may have a sight of so many round meters which make us feel that being a Pilot is a difficult task since a Pilot has to monitor so many meters and also he has to know what each meter is all about. In simple terms cockpit which has multiple round meters (instruments) are commonly known as conventional cockpits. Conventional cockpit has individual instrument displays which makes cockpit look crowded. Further, conventional cockpit used to have analogue displays which shows value with physical needle pointer.

With the advancement in technology and increase in digitization, aircraft’s cockpit look and feel has changed considerably. Glass displays gradually started replacing conventional displays. Moreover, glass display allowed integration of multiple instruments in one display reducing Pilot’s workload and efficient utilization of resource. Glass displays shows digital values that are precise. Glass displays become popular in all kinds of flying machines be it an Airliner or a Glider.

Regarding reliability, display errors are more common in conventional cockpit whereas glass displays throw reliable values. However, there have been reported instances where glass displays gone blank due to some electronic issues. Therefore, all glass cockpit carries at least two displays Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multi-function Display (MFD) to create redundancy. In case of failure of PFD, MFD can be swapped as backup PFD. Further, basic conventional instruments are still present with glass displays to handle any inadvertent scenario of both displays going blank.

As regards accuracy, glass displays are more accurate as measured values are sampled and filtered before getting displayed. Further, value displayed are digits which increases clarity. Whereas in conventional cockpit, instrument measuring errors are carried on to display as no digital filtering is present.

Electric power consumption is one aspect where glass displays lags behind conventional displays as glass displays consume more electric power and also fully dependent on the same for their operation. Therefore, glass cockpit aircrafts have emergency battery which provide power in any unforeseen circumstances like electrical failure.

Glass display is a compact multiple instrument display which saves space and allow efficient use of parameters.

Getting your flight training on a glass cockpit helps you in transition to bigger glass cockpit aircrafts. Most common glass cockpit system available in small aircrafts is Garmin G1000.

OFLY objective is to disseminate fair and genuine information regarding Aviation. We do not represent any specific flight school. Author of this blog is an Indian Private Pilot and keen observer of Indian aviation market. He flies with multiple flying training schools of India. For consultation on Learn to Fly as hobby or profession. Book your appointment here or write to us


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