August 2011 Issue

Using A Flight Director

Once reserved only for turbine-powered equipment, flight directors also can be found in most glass-panel installations. Learning to use it will improve your hand-flying accuracy.

Fly a jet or turboprop airplane and you’ll consider a flight director to be an essential tool for precision and aircraft control. Turbine-powered airplanes are generally very powerful and slick, so being off as little as a degree in pitch attitude can quickly lead to an altitude bust. Fly a jet up high, where indicated airspeed provides only a small margin above one-G, wings-level stall speed—the so-called "coffin corner"—and a flight director provides the precise guidance you need to keep the wing flying. You may be new to turbines and just becoming acquainted with flight directors. Many of us who fly piston-powered airplanes also have flight directors as integral parts of an autopilot system. But the system isn’t well understood by many pilots, especially those not yet fortunate enough to be flying turbine equipment.

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