Our commercial airline industry has evolved so quickly in the last 15 years. The post 9/11 regulations that the airline industry has been subject to have created changes in both operations and airplane display systems. Additionally, the lagging airline industry growth has driven airline executives to look for more efficient ways to provide airline services, and to attract more business; this has also had a huge impact on airplane display systems.
Modern airplane display systems basically fit into four categories: in flight entertainment systems (or IFE systems), primary flight displays, displays for muli-functional purposes, and head up/head down displays.
Overview of Airplane Display Systems
- Primary Flight Displays
The primary flight displays on the aircraft display systems are responsible for providing the visual and audio monitor of the key functions that a pilot must pay attention to while flying. This includes:
- Mapping systems for the flight’s path, as well as the weather conditions in the areas the plane will be crossing.
- Information regarding the airplanes altitude, pitch and yaw throughout take-off, during the flight, and in landing.
- Warning systems, such as a warning system that alerts the pilot to the proximity to the ground.
- Pilot’s Night Vision Systems did not used to be considered a necessity while flying, but an increase in airlines that travel at night, as well as a spike in travelers looking for red-eye flights, this component has become an important piece in the primary flight displays.
- Engine activity. Even the best planes go through vigorous turbulence and atmospheric conditions that put a strain on the engine from time to time. Constant monitoring of the engine’s condition is very important.
- Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) is important for frost forecasts and for improved safety while making landing decisions, particularly in low-visibility conditions. A robust enhanced vision system is extremely important, and many historical airplane accidents could have been avoided if the EVS had modern displays for superior fault recording and maintenance.
- Multi Function Displays
The primary function display that we’ve discussed until this point have only served the most basic flying features. When more information is required during the flight, but the number of functions need is exceeds the number of monitors available, it can really limit the pilots’ ability to make safe and informed decisions in flight. For this reason, many airlines are opting to use multi functional displays, which allows the pilot to toggle the information being displayed on the screen, and gather the data in the form he needs to make the best flying decisions.
As airlines have begun to extend the hours that their planes are in the area, and increased travel across the globe (thus increased the hours that a plane is in transit), as well as with the increase in safety regulations, the need for multi functional displays has become more important than ever. Some manufacturers of aircraft interior products suggest that multi functional displays will take the place of primary functional displays in the long run.
- Head up and Head Down Display Systems
The most essential and complicated part of a pilot’s job is getting the plane up in the air, and then landing it safely afterwards. During take off and landing, the pilot has to pay particular attention to the head-up display system and the head-down display system are designed to provide the pilot with the essential information they need to make the best flying choices during take off and landing. Although these systems are not always in airplanes, they are becoming common and will likely be retrofitted going forward.
- In Flight Entertainment Systems
The in flight entertainment system seems trivial in comparison to the flight display systems that are critical to a safe and successful flight. However, the commercial airline industry has become so competitive that an airline’s success depends on the comfort and enjoyment of the travelers.
Gone are the days that all a traveler needed to feel comfortable on a plane was one B-list movie at the front of the plane. Now, travelers want to be able to use their own electronic devices (that did not abound in the past like it does today). Modern airlines should have in seat USB power and high-quality monitors available to each passenger.
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