Aircraft Flight Instruments

For a pilot to efficiently and safely operate an aircraft during flight operations, they will utilize a number of flight instruments that are located within the cockpit. Flight instruments are devices that relay to the pilot important information and data that is paramount to conducting operations. With such information, a pilot can better maintain level flight, make safe turns, have information regarding their positioning as compared to the horizon, and more. Due to their capabilities and use, flight instruments are mandated by a number of regulations set forth by governing bodies. In this blog, we will provide an overview of some of the common flight instruments that may be present within an aircraft cockpit, allowing you to better understand their functionalities and how to utilize their data.

Generally speaking, the primary flight instruments that are commonly present in a cockpit include pitot-static, compass, gyroscopic, flight director, and navigational systems. Within the category of pitot-static systems, such instruments utilize the differences in air pressure in order to determine the speed and altitude of an aircraft. With the altimeter, the altitude of the aircraft in relation to sea-level is measured through the comparison of atmospheric pressure and pressure within aneroid capsules. With an airspeed indicator, the aircraft’s speed in relation to the surrounding air is measured. To receive such data, the airspeed indicator utilizes ram-air pressure provided by the pitot tube and compares it with static pressure. Generally, the speed provided by the airspeed indicator needs to be corrected against nonstandard pressure and temperature so that the pilot can have the true air speed. As the last flight instrument belonging to the pitot-static system, the vertical airspeed indicator denotes the rate at which the aircraft is climbing or descending. To measure climb and descent, the vertical speed indicator monitors changes in air pressure.

For the compass systems present within the aircraft, a magnetic compass is most often used for relaying the aircraft’s heading in relation to magnetic north. Due to the high amounts of electrical wiring that is often implemented on many aircraft, a correction card may be used to mitigate errors arising from deviation. Magnets are also fairly unreliable when not in level flight, as turning, climbing, descending, and other orientations may cause incorrect readings.

Within the family of gyroscopic systems, the attitude indicator, heading indicator, and turn indicator all further provide important information for the positioning and orientation of the aircraft. With the attitude indicator, pilots are presented with an artificial horizon that allows them to be well aware of the orientation of their wings and the aircraft’s roll. With the heading indicator, the heading of the aircraft is presented with compass points, and it can be synced with the magnetic compass to provide true magnetic north. Lastly, the turn indicator is similar in appearance to the attitude indicator, though allows for pilots to conduct safe turning with marked levels.

Depending on the aircraft, its set role, date of manufacturing, and other factors, a variety of navigational systems, flight director systems, and other flight instruments may also be present within the aircraft cockpit for the benefit of the pilots. At NSN Axis, we can help you secure the flight instrument parts and components that you need to carry out your operations with ease. Peruse our expansive part and manufacturer catalogues at your leisure, and you may begin the purchasing process at any time by filling out and submitting an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website. Once received, a member of our staff will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less with a personalized quote based on your individual needs and requirements. Get started today and experience how NSN Axis can fulfill all of your operational needs with ease.


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June 15, 2021
May 5, 2021
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