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Flying with digital VSI & turn coordinator

I received this question and thought many other people may have the same question so I am putting it in a new post.

[Comment] “Flying now with my new PFD 1000 for about 2 months, I am looking to find new panel real estate… and remind myself the Aspen allows removal of the VSI and Turn Coordinator/rate of turn (with Century 2000 vacuum driven AP).

What is the experience flying without the VSI or Turn Coordinator steam gauges as backup?

I hope your experiences with the EFD 1000 have been great.

Using the Glass or digital representation of the VSI and turn coordinator instead of the steam gauge instruments is part of the natural transition to glass. It did not take me long at all to transition to the altitude and speed tapes when flying the EFD. I must admit that for myself I did find this transition to take a bit longer when going to glass. However, after some dedicated flying concentrating on the use of both I find them very easy to use. In addition, since they are displayed on the Primary PFD in front of me I am able to get a full picture of what the airplane is doing without having to scan between several instruments. I find that to be very helpful in my flying.

Let’s first address the VSI tape that is used on the Aspen EFD1000. It is one of several different methods of representation that many avionics manufacturers use. It took me a little time to get used to a tape instead of a round dial, but after two or three flights of concentrating on the use of the instrument it has become very natural to me. I have removed the VSI from my airplane. I particularly like the way the tape comes in when the aircraft begins to descend or climb on the EFD. During my normal scan of the instrument this representation always catches my eye so if I am not intending to climb or descend I quickly am made aware of a change and correct accordingly. I find that because of this I am more accurate in my hand flying. During the descent or climb the tapes are easy to follow.

Now for the turn coordinator. The representation of the turn coordinator on the EFD is pretty standard in the industry. Many have found this easy to use. I will admit that this transition took the longest. I really like the steam gauge turn coordinator so I often times found that I would use that instead of the glass representation. After several flights I now use the EFD turn coordinator for my flying. I have however retained my steam gauge turn coordinator in my airplane, primarily because I have the real estate for it on my panel. If I did not have the space I would not hesitate in removing it.

My experience is that everyone has a different opinion on these sorts of things, but it should be noted with all new aircraft being manufactured with glass cockpits and now the retrofit market becoming more and more glass, we as pilots will need to be able to transition to the digital representation of the steam gauges.

I hope this helps. If you have any more questions or would like to talk with other pilots regarding their opinions, I am sure we can connect you up with them so you can get some further insights.

Categories: Flying
  1. Tom Newell
    March 31, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I’ve noticed my scan of VSI and Altitude have reversed from my steam guage scan.

    On my steam guages I rely on the VSI as a lead indicator of altitude change. The VSI is more sensitive than the standard altimeter so it shows a change before the altimeter. Particularly important when having to revert to patial panel scan.

    On my EFD, however, the altitude drum begins to move before the VSI tape starts to register. So my first indication of altitude change (for minor pitch changes) is the altitude drum before the VSI tape appears at +/- 100 FPM or greater.

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