In this article we will make an overview of capsule and gyroscopic instruments and, gradually, other articles will follow to deepen the functioning and characteristics of each.

Cruscotto aereo - strumenti a capsula e giroscopici

Wanting to make a distinction based on the typology, it can be said that these are divided into:

  • Attitude instruments
  • Speed instruments
  • Directional instruments (compass included)
  • Altitude instruments

These instruments can be identified as basic tools for flight conduct. In other words, they tell the pilot at what speed, in what direction, at what altitude you are flying and with what attitude.
These tools are based on different concepts and operating systems and are subject to characteristic phenomena and errors.

Capsule instruments

Capsule instruments work by atmospheric pressure, thanks to the presence of static and dynamic probes installed on board the aircraft commonly called static grip and dynamic grip.
To simplify the concept of operation, it can be said that the static intake detects the atmospheric pressure present outside the aircraft, the dynamic intake (by extension also Pitot tube), typically positioned on the leading edge of the left wing of the aircraft but still far from the influences of the air flow generated by the propeller or other perturbations, it detects the pressure due to the advancement of the aircraft in the air.

... the dynamic intake (by extension also Pitot tube), typically positioned on the leading edge of the left wing of the aircraft but still far from the influences of the air flow generated by the propeller or other perturbations, detects the pressure due to advancement of the aircraft in the air.

The anemometer

The anemometer is the instrument assigned to information about the speed of the aircraft, the latter expressed in knots (knots). This instrument has bands of different colors that represent the characteristic speeds of the aircraft, which can be found in the manufacturer's manual.

L'anemometro rileva la pressione totale o di impatto
The anemometer detects the total or impact pressure

The altimeter

The altimeter is the instrument that, after correct adjustment of the atmospheric pressure according to the mode of use and which we will then see in detail, provides information regarding the altitude at which you are flying. The altitude is expressed in feet (feet).

The altimeter must be adjusted according to the mode of use (QFE, QNH, QNE)

The variometer

The variometer is the instrument that indicates the rate of ascent or descent or, to put it better, the tendency of ascent or descent as well as theaircraft attitude. It is expressed in feet per minute (feet/m).

Le tacche del variometro in genere sono espresse in centinaia di piedi.
The notches of the variometer are generally expressed in hundreds of feet.

Gyroscopic instruments

Gyro instruments are based on the complex mechanism of the gyroscope. For light aircraft and those flying at low altitudes, the air inside these instruments is emptied by the vacuum pump. Information on the operation of the vacuum system is provided by the vacuum gauge.

The attitude indicator

The artificial horizon returns information to the pilot regarding the attitude of the aircraft, longitudinal and transversal. The instrument shows the outline of the aircraft and the graduated lines at the top indicating the roll angle (or bank angle). If in flight conducted with visual rules (VFR) this instrument can be considered an aid, in instrument flight (IFR) it becomes indispensable.

Le linee bianche rappresentano  l'angolo di rollio o di bank
The white lines represent the roll or bank angle (20 °, 40 ° or 60 °)

The virosbandometer

The virosbandometer, called turn indicator or to the more modern turn coordinator, gives the pilot information about the coordination of the turn. The ball in the center indicates whether the plane is coordinated. When the ball is moved towards one of the two notches it is common to say "shoulder-strapped" flying.

The ball in the center represents the coordination of the tack

The directional

The directional indicates the bow of the aircraft, represented by a silhouette of an airplane oriented by an arrow towards a graduated crown expressed in sexagesimal degrees. This tool indicates with which bow the aircraft is moving. Subject to typical errors, it must always be corrected with the information received from the on-board compass.

Il direzionale va sempre allineato con la bussola di bordo
The directional must always be aligned with the compass on board

After this overview we begin to deepen the functioning of each of these important tools.


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