Flying Glass Cockpit vs The Six Pack

This is probably one of the most popular topics in aviation that I hear about and have to teach about ALL of the time. 

Six pack is the old school way, aka the steam gauges that bring you back and make you feel like you're learning to fly in the '50s. Or at least this is one of the jokes I hear from fellow aviators and students. 

But it's true! This is the "old school way" if that's what you want to call it. But, don't discount it. The steam gauges create really good flying skills that can carry into the rest of your career and set a good foundation.

On the other hand, the glass cockpit is the newer style of things and we have to learn to adapt. 

This G1000 features Avidyne Avionics from a Cirrus SR20 and below the screens a Garmin 430. On the left side is a PFD (primary flight display), which makes sense because it shows your primary flight instruments. Everything from the six pack (which we'll come back to) is now featured on this screen, including your rudder coordination which is the black and white triangle at the top. Keep the white part of the triangle centered with the black (keep the snow on top of the mountain) and you're coordinated!

All of this is powered by a separate computer. You still have a pitot tube and static ports, and this air is sent in lines to flight management systems to display the information. The advantage of this is the controls have fewer mechanical components to break down and avoid false readings. One major advantage of a glass cockpit is that the automation systems are more accurate and the information is more precise.

Some of the features look different, but if you can read the older style gauges, you can read this. Some added tools include the heading and altitude bugs that you can't always set on the six pack as a reminder of when to level off. Now if you have advanced avionics like this and added autopilot, consider your plane a technically advanced aircraft! This is a plus of having a glass cockpit. 

However, there is one con I find of training with this. When learning to read these, if you go straight into the digitalized cockpit without doing any training in a traditional style, then your instrument scan is negatively affected.

As you can see, all of the readings are displayed on one screen and it can be easy to monitor all the readings at once. 

With these instruments, now they're all separate from each other. You have to move your eyes across all of them at a good pace and thus create a good instrument scan while flying the plane at the same time. This creates a solid foundation for good flying skills, especially when you have to take those skills into flying IFR without autopilot. 

As mentioned earlier, all of these instruments have mechanical linkages behind them which can break and render the entire instrument unusable with little to no sign beforehand. This is the con of flying the steam gauges, and you usually have to replace the entire instrument to fix it. They also can be slightly inaccurate when incorporating some principles like gyroscopic procession with your gyro-powered instruments. The altimeter, even when set to the right altimeter setting, can read inaccurate and within time has to be fixed too. 

Both traditional flying and digitalized flying have their own benefits and are each respected throughout the aviation community, it's all about what you fly best. Find planes with the best cockpit for you on Globalair.com

Stay tuned for more articles and happy landings!