General Aviation Research To Date Engineering Essay

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In the last few years, the cockpits of the light aircrafts have gone under an evolution from conservative analog flight instruments to digital based display which is also known as glass cockpits which we are going to discuss in our further headings. The new displays which are shown in the light aircrafts are integrated with the autopilot, aircraft system, communication and navigation and various other technologies which were previously available only in the aircrafts for only transport category. There are three different approaches mentioned in the study. Firstly, retrospective statistical analysis of activity survey data, manufacturer records and aircraft investigation information has been conducted in order to compare the accident experience of the light engine airplanes which were manufactured recently. Secondly, evaluation of glass cockpit training requirements was conducted in order to characterize the training and for the identification of the areas of the potential safety environment. Lastly, the cases of accident were reviewed for the identification of the emerging safety issues which are mostly associated with the introduction of the glass cockpit.

The evaluation of the training requirements of the light aircraft glass cockpit has found that the FAA is trying to update the training handbooks and standardizing their tests to integrate information related to electronic flight instrument displays. The result arrived from the introduction of the glass cockpit has not provided improvement in safety as compared to the conventional instruments. The analysis conducted identifies various safety issues in mostly two areas which are as follows:

Need of pilots which are having sufficient knowledge related to equipment and also have ability to safely operate the aircraft.

There is a need to capture the operational and maintenance information to make sure about the reliability of the glass cockpit in light aircrafts.


A Glass cockpit is a cockpit of an aircraft that consists of features like electronic instrument display which has typically large LCD screen instead of traditional style of analog dials and gauges. The traditional cockpit consists of numerous mechanical gauges in order to display information but glass cockpit uses various displays which are operated by the flight management systems. It is used in simplifying aircraft operation and navigation; it also allows pilots to focus on some of the most relevant information related to aircraft. They are also popular within airlines companies as they replace the place for flight engineer. In the recent year, the technology has been available in small aircraft.

Aircraft displays have been modernized which have affected the sensors as well. Electronic attitude and heading reference systems replaced the traditional gyroscopic flight instruments; the former instrument tries to improve the reliability and helps in reduction of cost. The earliest cockpit, were found in the Boeing 767-200/-300, 737 classical, 757 and McDonnel Douglas MD-80/90. The EFIS system is used to display the information related to navigation only where traditional mechanical gauges are kept for the vertical speed, airspeed and altitude. We will be describing about the technology of cockpit and interfaces and usage of the glass cockpit in the next generation aircraft systems and their feasibility of induction in ETIHAD airways. (Glass cockpits: fewer accidents, more fatal , 2012)

Statement of Issues:

There are basically two statements of issues which are of prime importance that are as follows:

First of all we will be discussing about the technology of the glass cockpit and the interfaces which are basically used in the light aircraft system.

Secondly, we will be talking about the next generation aircraft systems and their viability of induction in the ETIHAD airways.

These are the two main issues which will be discussed in our further more paragraphs. There is usage of glass cockpits at the present time in the light aircraft which consists of digital display electronic panel. Prior to the 1970s, air transport system was not considered demanding to require advance equipment like electronic panel. Firstly NASA conducted research on the displays which could convert the flight data into the understood picture of the flight situation, after which various flights possessed with the full glass cockpit system. The success of the NASA led glass cockpit has led to the result into wide acceptance of the electronic flight displays which has begun with the MD-80 in the year 1979.

Topic analysis:


In the past few years, the cockpits have undergone a major change from conventional flight instruments to the computerized display interface which is also commonly known as glass cockpits. Cirrus Design Corporation have started the transition to glass cockpit in FAA certified light aircraft in the year 2003 when it started to deliver the single engine piston airplanes with PFD. Various other companies also started to adopt the same display mode in their airplanes such as SR20 and SR22 models. By the year 2006, most of the companies have given indication that more than 90 percent of the new piston powered, light airplanes will be fully equipped with the glass cockpit displays.

This study was basically used to test the hypothesis that the glass cockpit used in the light aircraft would be helpful in improving the safety of their operation or not and for the same purpose, there are three separate analyses which were described in the study report are:

Retrospective Statistical analysis and activity data of the two recently manufactured airplanes.

Qualitative review of the FAA and the industry training resources which are related to the glass cockpit displays.

Review of the case studies of the accident which is conducted in order to identify the emerging the safety issues.


The operations of the aircraft are more dependent on the glass cockpit systems where flight crews must be trained in order to deal with the possible failures. Various surveys told that in one glass-cockpit aircraft, the airbus A320, there were around 50 accidents of the glass cockpit blackout which have occurred in the recent past. On 25 January 2008, there was encounter of serious glass cockpit blackout case where united airlines Flight 731 have experienced it in addition to which loosing half of the ECM displays and all radios, attitude indicators, transponders and TCAS. In the year 2010, there was a study published on 8000 general aviation light aircraft which found that aircraft equipped with the glass cockpits had lower accident rates as compared to aircrafts which does not have glass cockpits.

Training is also considered as the important factor involved in reducing the accident rate of light planes which are equipped with the glass cockpits and this particular study also demonstrates the importance of the life and death on these complex systems.

General Aviation Research to Date:

There are fewer researches available to the safety consequences of the glass cockpit avionics in the light aircraft, which is due to the result of the introduction and lack of the availability of the data. In the year 2003, joint commission of the FAA and industry group suggested a study of various technically advanced aircraft issues which are based on the subject matter and reviews of the case studies using the Human Factor analysis. Most of the accident that took place in the 21st century was due to faulty pilots instead of the problems with the avionics or the interface between pilot and interface.

Study Design and Methodology:

In order to determine the introduction of glass cockpit affected the safe operation of light aircraft, there has been quantitative and qualitative assessment performed in addition with the case study review. The goals set for the quantitative portion of the study were identification of any kind of differences in the characteristics of the glass cockpit and conventional cockpit of the aircraft and also in the determination of the introduction of the glass cockpit avionics in the light aircraft avionics which has affected the safety. If we observe the qualitative assessment, then NTSB reviewed some changes in the requirements, training and resources which are associated with the transition to the glass cockpit.

An assessment of the safety consequences of some particular aircraft equipment change is easily stunned if that particular change is related with the difference in the pilot demographics, use of aircraft or additional equipment changes. New airplanes with new equipments capabilities have also attracted various demographic of pilots to general aviation who may take use of their aircraft differently as compared to the pilots flying older models.

Quantitative analysis of the data of the current study includes firstly the comparison between the specified models manufactured during the tenure of 5 years through 2002 to 2006; this period experienced the transition of the fleet from conventional to glass cockpit display. Secondly, the statistical comparison is conducted of the retrospective data for the span of years from 2002 to 2008 through display type and lastly, a comparison is done on the basis of flight activity data and aircraft which were obtained from the FAA aircraft registry.

Uses of Glass Cockpit Display and Interface:

There are basically two main uses of glass cockpit display and interface which are as follows:

In Commercial aviation:

The old glass cockpit displays were copied from the conventional electromechanical instruments onto the cathode ray tubes whereas the new display shows a true departure. The improved concept of the glass cockpit enabled makers of the aircraft to customize cockpits to some greater degree as compared to previous one. Manufacturers have decided to choose new features such as using trackball, joystick and thumb pad which are all considered as the pilot input device in a computer style environment.

In general aviation:

Many of the general aviation aircraft’s are available with the glass cockpits. Garmin G1000 is now available on various aircrafts which also includes Cessna 172. There are many small aircrafts which can also be modified in order to replace the analogue instruments.

Next Generation aircraft Systems:

The next generation aircraft system is also known as the national airspace system for the implementation across the United States through 2012 to 2025. It proposes to transform America’s air traffic control system from the time of ageing ground based system to the satellite based system. There are other technologies such as GPS which is used to shorten the routes, save fuel and time both, reduce traffic and permit controllers to monitor and also used to manage the traffic with greatly safety margins. In order to implement the above plan, FAA has to undertake the transformation of the United States air transportation system. The transformation is used to reduce the gridlock. There are five elements which are consisted in the next generation aircraft system which are as follows:

Automatic Dependent Surveillance â€" broadcast (ADS-B) which takes help of the GPS in order to provide air traffic controllers and pilots with more accurate information regarding safety of the aircraft on runways or sky.

System Wide Information Management provides a single infrastructure to deliver data to various servers and applications. It also tries to reduce the data redundancy through reducing the number of interfaces and systems.

Next Generation Data Communication provides an additional means of two way communication for the clearances of the air traffic. (TOPIC 05 Next Generation Aircraft Systems Design and Analyses Tools )

NAS voice switch (NVS) will replace more than seventeen different voice switching systems with single ground/ground or air/ground voice communication system.

Next generation Network Enabled Weather (NNEW) is helpful in cutting weather related delays into half.

The next generation aircraft systems could be very helpful in the ETIHAD airways. It could help in saving loads of fuel and time in addition with reduction in the carbon emission by 50 tons. There are many NNEW kind of technique which is helpful in reducing the weather related delays. There is property like two communications for the clearance of the air traffic could be achieved through the Next generation data communication. These all next generation systems are trying to be applied on the aircrafts of the ETIHAD airways in order to gain profit in the hardcore competition in the market. These techniques are in process to be applied on the airplanes which could also produce world class aircrafts within Middle East.


The study used the records of manufacturers, investigation information related to aircrafts and subset of general aviation activity survey data. The introduction of the glass cockpit has not resulted in the improvement in safety as compared to the similar aircraft with conservative instruments. In my opinion, the advanced avionics and electronic displays could increase the potential of the operation in the general aviation aircraft in order to provide pilots with more safety related information and functionality instead there is more effort needed to make sure that pilots are more prepared to realize the potential. There should be more specific training provided to the pilots for the glass cockpit as compared to the ancient technology which could result into reduction in the air accidents. Pilots should have adequate knowledge of the aircraft equipment by the FAA in order to improve the safety of general aviation operations. However, these actions are necessary and particularly important to achieve the safety benefits which should be associated with the cockpit technologies in lighter aircrafts. Some of the glass cockpit displays include recording capabilities which have benefited accident investigations and also have provided the community of general aviation with the ability to make improvement over equipment reliability through data analyses.


In order to discuss about the safety issues related to the glass cockpit display and interface, there are some of the recommendations which are to be provided as follows:

The airman knowledge test should be revised which contains questions related to the electronic flights and navigation displays.

The administration should slot in training elements regarding electronic primary flight display in the training materials. (NTSB Issues Glass-Cockpit Safety Recommendations )

There should be development and guidance for the use of the equipment- specific electronic avionic displays which do not meet the requirements of the flight simulation training devices.

Training is one of the key constituent in reducing the accident rate of light planes which are mostly equipped with the glass cockpits.

There is more training provided to the pilots in the use of glass cockpit technology.

Advanced technology of the glass cockpits is not providing enough safety as compared to the old technology in the general aviation fleet. So, a proper training is to be provided to the pilots which could reduce the air accidents in the upcoming years.

Manufacturers should also provide more information related to the system problems that is how to deal and overcome the problem at the time of fleet or middle of flight.

There should be proper training provided to use the simulators and trainers in order to meet the requirements of the training needs which are to be clarified.

The FAA should inform maintenance technicians who basically work on the displays of the aircraft, if any problem occurs.