Features

July 2011 Issue

Avionics Gone Wild

Whether itís a calamity of wrong button pushes or a subtle input failure to a glass panel, understanding the interface is key to safety.

As an avionics guy, Iím often asked if I would rather deal with total avionics failure in an all-glass or round-gauge aircraft. My preference is all-glass because total failure is pretty unlikely. And even if it did happen, the situation shouldnít be debilitating. With dual batteries, dual electrical systems, standby instruments and a portable GPS, thereís little reason why you couldnít put down safely. But for an older retrofit panel, the risks are elevated. You donít have to be an avionics tech to understand what makes your panel tick, but you do need to know what can make it a ticking time bomb. Perhaps you pushed the wrong button sequence for an autopilot-coupled approach, or maybe an encounter with ice has turned your Aspen PFD into an expensive tic-tac-toe game.

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