April 2000 Issue

Without Warning

Gauges and annunciators are useful tools – until they lie to you

Warning systems are an integral part of any aircraft. They range from a simple “low vacuum pressure” light to GPS-augmented ground proximity warning systems. Despite the best technology designers can throw at warning systems, gauges and annunciator panels aren’t necessarily the final word on the health of the systems they’re intended to monitor. Any system can fail, and each failure poses a unique challenge to the pilot.

The good news is that when warning systems work properly they can really save the day. One of the most profound examples of how effective that warning systems can be comes from ground proximity warning systems. Only about 3 percent of turbine aircraft are not equipped wit...

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