Cockpit – Learn To Fly (#2)

Always know your cockpit before you fly. In this part I describe cockpit layout and show how some planes differ from others.

This article is a part of my Learn To Fly series.

Cockpit layout – general idea

Small planes that are meant to be flown by a single pilot have an asymmetric cockpit layout with most important instruments placed in front of the pilot and other moved to the middle and the right side.

Kokpit-Beech-58-Baron-(default)

Let’s take this Beech Baron (FSX – default) as an example. Although it has dual controls, it features only a single set of flight instruments.

Kokpit-C208B

Cessna 208B (above) has full dual set of instruments.

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Basic T

Spitfire

Basic T origins from a British concept dating back to 1930s – Basic 6. It’s the set of most important flight instruments grouped together. Original Basic 6 concept included:

  • airspeed indicator
  • attitude indicator
  • vertical speed indicator
  • altimeter
  • compass
  • turn and slip

The concept evolved and turned into “basic T” – where “T” represents four main instruments which are not changing:

  • airspeed indicator
  • artificial horizon / attitude indicator
  • altimeter
  • compass / heading indicator / HSI

Beech-Duke C172

Two remaining instruments in lower corners may change. Although it’s common practice to place vertical speed indicator in lower right corner so the only instrument that actually changes is located in lower left corner – it’s usually a turn coordinator or some kind of radio navigation instrument (RMI or ADI) when turn indicator is mounted in attitude indicator (take a look at C-130 and PC-9 layouts).

Often 6 gauge layout is even further expanded into 8 or 9 gauge set.

PC-9

How to look at gauges?

When flying visually pilot should spend 90% of time looking out of his plane – keeping eye for traffic and maintaining position (attitude, heading) by outside reference.

The situation is completely different in instrument flight. Pilot keeps scanning his instruments moving eyes from one to the other in specific order. The basic rule is to go back and forth between the artificial horizon and any other instrument.

For longer flights (straight and level) it may be advisable to scan instruments in a circular pattern. This technique decreases fatigue.

C208B C-130

There are priorities!

In straight and level flight – pay most attention to:

  • attitude indicator
  • altimeter, heading indicator
  • airspeed indicator, turn coordinator, vertical speed indicator
  • engine indicators

During climb and approach:

  • attitude indicator
  • airspeed indicator
  • altimeter and heading indicator
  • turn coordinator, vertical speed indicator and engine instruments

In turns:

  • attitude indicator
  • turn coordinator, vertical speed indicator
  • speedometer, altimeter, heading indicator
  • engine indicators

 

Advanced pilots may also be interested in AOPA’s 4 Step Instrument Scan techniques.

This article is a part of my Learn To Fly series.

 

 

Summary
Learn To Fly (#2) - Cockpit
Article Name
Learn To Fly (#2) - Cockpit
Description
Always know your cockpit before you fly. In this part I describe cockpit layout and show how some planes differ from others.
Author
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