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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Aircraft Structure

Instrumentation: Moving into the Future

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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge



Table of Contents

Chapter 1, Introduction To Flying
Chapter 2, Aircraft Structure
Chapter 3, Principles of Flight
Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight
Chapter 5, Flight Controls
Chapter 6, Aircraft Systems
Chapter 7, Flight Instruments
Chapter 8, Flight Manuals and Other Documents
Chapter 9, Weight and Balance
Chapter 10, Aircraft Performance
Chapter 11, Weather Theory
Chapter 12, Aviation Weather Services
Chapter 13, Airport Operation
Chapter 14, Airspace
Chapter 15, Navigation
Chapter 16, Aeromedical Factors
Chapter 17, Aeronautical Decision Making




Analog display (top) and digital display (bottom)
Figure 2-18. Analog display (top) and digital display (bottom) from
a Cessna 172.

Whether an aircraft has analog or digital ("glass")
instruments, the instrumentation falls into three different
categories: performance, control, and navigation.

Performance Instruments
The performance instruments indicate the aircraft's actual
performance. Performance is determined by reference to the
altimeter, airspeed or vertical speed indicator (VSI), heading
indicator, and turn-and-slip indicator. The performance
instruments directly reflect the performance the aircraft
is achieving. The speed of the aircraft can be referenced
on the airspeed indicator. The altitude can be referenced
on the altimeter. The aircraft's climb performance can be
determined by referencing the VSI. Other performance
instruments available are the heading indicator, angle of
attack indicator, and the slip-skid indicator. [Figure 2-19]

Control Instruments
The control instruments [Figure 2-20] display immediate
attitude and power changes, and are calibrated to permit
adjustments in precise increments. The instrument for attitude
display is the attitude indicator. The control instruments do
not indicate aircraft speed or altitude. In order to determine
these variable and others, a pilot must reference the
performance instruments.

Navigation Instruments
The navigation instruments indicate the position of the
aircraft in relation to a selected navigation facility or fix.
This group of instruments includes various types of course
indicators, range indicators, glideslope indicators, and
bearing pointers. Newer aircraft with more technologically
advanced instrumentation provide blended information,
giving the pilot more accurate positional information.

Navigation instruments are comprised of indicators that
display GPS, very high frequency (VHF) omni-directional
radio range (VOR), nondirectional beacon (NDB),
and instrument landing system (ILS) information. The
instruments indicate the position of the aircraft relative to a
selected navigation facility or fix. They also provide pilotage
information so the aircraft can be maneuvered to keep it on a
predetermined path. The pilotage information can be in either
two or three dimensions relative to the ground-based or spacebased
navigation information. [Figures 2-21 and 2-22]

Global Positioning System (GPS)
GPS is a satellite-based navigation system composed of a
network of satellites placed into orbit by the United States
Department of Defense (DOD). GPS was originally intended
for military applications, but in the 1980s the government
made the system available for civilian use. GPS works in all
weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. A
GPS receiver must be locked onto the signal of at least three
satellites to calculate a two-dimensional position (latitude
and longitude) and track movement. With four or more
satellites in view, the receiver can determine the user's three
dimensional position (latitude, longitude, and altitude).
Other satellites must also be in view to offset signal loss and signal
ambiguity. The use of the GPS is discussed in more detail in
Chapter 15, Navigation. Additionally, GPS is discussed in
the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

Chapter Summary
This chapter provides an overview of aircraft structures.
A more in-depth understanding of aircraft structures and
controls can be gained through the use of flight simulation
software or interactive programs available online through
aviation organizations such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association (AOPA). Pilots are also encouraged to subscribe
to or review the various aviation periodicals which contain
valuable flying information. As discussed in Chapter 1, the
National Air and Space Administration (NASA) and the FAA
also offer free information for pilots.