4 thoughts on “In Praise Of Analog Gauges

  1. Round vs glass? I appreciated your thoughts. Here are some of mine.

    My son is now a FAA employee and previously NASA. Born in 1960. Perdue Master, Sanford Doctor. Probably more time in the Ames helo sim that any other individual. Why does this matter? During this time he participated in several ‘tests’ of Round vs glass.

    If you want the quick & easy version, here it is. Give the student two (2) seconds to view the panel (without prior warning while he is under the hood start an ‘upset condition’) ask him tell you what he saw after closing the hood again. Do it first in a ‘round’ panel aircraft then the ‘glass’ panel.

    This will probably be a learning experience for both of you. Remind him that two seconds is a long time after a bird strike etc. Neither NASA or FAA thought this was important.

    I have more than 49 yrs designing, installing, and controlling ‘computers’ experience. Thirty one at GE Plastics. If one knows how complicated this ‘solid state’ equipment is, NO one would ever bet their life on electronics…

    I still have my C-150 that taught me a lot and have built a ‘scratch built’ (before kits) Lancair 235/320. Glass in both. 😉 [if you note any spelling errors, blame the computer]

  2. I’ve been flying for more than 50 years and instructing for over 20. Naturally, I’m fairly comfortable with those round dials. I have also flown full glass cockpit aircraft along with older airplanes that have been partially updated to “glass” with electronic PFD’s, MFD’s, etc.

    I still favor round dials, especially for pilots in training. In my opinion, the ability to easily and quickly see changes in aircraft performance (rate of climb, speed, heading, etc.) is a critical skill. Round, analog displays demonstrate those parameters at a glance. The position of the needles shows those trends early and makes any deviations quickly obvious. In contrast, glass displays require pilots to read and then integrate their output – a very different and less intuitive skill set.

  3. I agree completely. Another point for starting with the “Round Dials” is that it determines what indications are important. The student has less information to absorb, and he/she learns the critical info. With the glass cockpit, you have a lot of additional information which can be very helpful; however, it is confusing to the new student. For example, the percentage of power is very helpful and meaningful to me, but it does not mean much to a student pilot until he/she learns the basics.

  4. Excellent article!!! I’ve been flying since 1950, flew both GA and military (F4), and this article is spot on. I agree that a case can be made for starting with steam or glass and both are valid. Well done.

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