What Are Aircraft Electronic Flight Information Systems?

The implementation of computerized systems within aircraft has radically changed how flights are conducted, allowing for ample safety and efficiency as complicated processes are automated, and important flight information is conveyed to pilots in a more efficient way. The introduction of the glass cockpit marked the turning point for the design of aircraft, and computer technology was first implemented for flight instruments. With the jump from mechanical gauges to electronic sensors and instruments, flight information could then be displayed on screens in front of pilots while also providing for customization and other features. The flight instrument display system in the cockpit that conveys data is known as the electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), and it comprises a number of components and displays. To help you better understand the EFIS, we will describe its design and functionality in brief detail.

For its display units, the EFIS includes a primary flight display (PFD), multi-function display (MFD), and an engine indications and crew alerting system (EICAS). The PFD is where the most important flight information is displayed for the pilot to use, including calibrated airspeed, heading, altitude, attitude, yaw, and vertical speed. Generally, the PFD serves as the replacement of the traditional 6-pack gauge collection, also replacing the artificial horizon as well.

The multi-function display also provides pilots with crucial data for conducting a safe flight, albeit information that may not need immediate awareness at all times. For instance, the MFD will often serve the role of displaying weather and navigational information, ensuring that the pilot is aware of their flight path and any adverse weather that will need to be avoided. Depending on the type of sensors and technology the aircraft features, the MFD may also provide data on aircraft traffic, glide radii, current locations, wings, and much more.

The EICAS display unit is the final major type, presenting pilots data concerning engine operations revolving around fuel, electrical systems, and propulsion systems. EICAS displays are often designed to mimic basic flight instruments and gauges, albeit providing data in the form of digital readouts. The EICAS is beneficial for improving situational awareness, ensuring that hazards are quickly identified with ease.

While all information is displayed on various units, the EFIS also provides pilots with control panels so that they can govern display ranges and modes while also entering data. Pilots typically only have to enter settings one time, and the EFIS will then ensure that the selected parameter is maintained by providing warnings on any deviation. Coupled with an automatic flight control system, deviations can automatically be solved for the benefit of the pilot. An example of this would be setting a desired level-off altitude, meaning that the EFIS will compare the entered variable with actual altitude.

With the various data processors that make the EFIS’ functionalities possible, pilots are provided versatility that surpasses traditional flight instruments. As the EFIS relies on a complex system of wiring and electronic components, it is crucial that regular inspections are conducted to ensure that everything is running smoothly. As the EFIS plays a pivotal role in flight safety, one should not operate an aircraft with a dysfunctional or inoperable system.

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