The flight deck is where the pilot and passenger sit. It is typically a tandem seating with the pilot in front and the passenger in back. When the WSC aircraft is used for instruction, the instructor typically sits in back and must have access to the flight controls.
The pilot in the front has ground and flight controls. The right foot controls a foot throttle and the left foot controls the brake. This is similar to throttle and brake controls on an automobile. The feet also control ground steering by moving the front fork with the foot pedals. A foot throttle and foot brake can be added to optional ground steering control for use by an instructor sitting in back.
A hand cruise throttle is typically used when the pilot can set it and it stays set. This cruise throttle is usually in a position where the instructor in the back seat can also operate it. [Figures 3-43]
The wing flight control bar is in a position at chest height for the pilot in the front seat. Additional extensions are added for a passenger or instructor to use if seated in the back seat. [Figure 3-7]
Ignition switches are sometimes included in the cruise control throttle housing or as a separate set of switches. If a WSC is used for instruction, the ignition switches should be within reach of the instructor sitting in the back seat. [Figures 3-43]
The ballistic parachute handle must be accessible for use when needed but not put in a position where it could be accidentally deployed. Some WSC aircraft have two handles, one for the front and one for the back. Additional controls for starting, such as the choke or enricher, must be accessible to the pilot.
Dashboards and Instrument Panels
The instrument panel is in front of the pilot and provides engine, flight, navigation, and communications information. The pilot is responsible for maintaining collision avoidance with a proper and continuous visual scan around the aircraft, as well as monitoring the information available from the instrument panel. The pilot must process the outside cues along with the instrumentation throughout the flight for a sound decision-making process.
The ignition switches, which may be located on the instrument panel or within the instructors reach for WSC used for instruction, has two positions: ON, which allows power to make contact with the spark plugs, or OFF, which is a closed switch to GROUND and removes the power source from the spark plugs. Typically, WSC engines have two spark plugs per cylinder, two switches, and two completely separate ignition systems. Some single-place WSCs with smaller engines have only one spark plug per cylinder, one ignition switch, and a single ignition system.
For example, for a two-stroke liquid-cooled engine, the manufacturer may require instrumentation to monitor engine exhaust gas temperatures (EGT), water temperatures, and revolutions per minute (rpm). Additionally, for a four-stroke engine, the manufacturer may additionally require oil temperature and pressure gauges. For a simple two-stroke air-cooled engine, the manufacturer’s requirement may be EGT, cylinder head temperature (CHT) and rpm instrumentation. Generally, most electrical or engine controls are located on the dashboard unless required to be reached by the instructor for flight instruction.
Dashboards are as varied as the manufacturers and the purpose of the aircraft, from simple to complex. Classical analog gauges are common, but digital instruments are becoming more popular with light-sport aircraft (LSA).
Overall, no instrumentation is required for E-LSA, but for S-LSA an airspeed indicator is usually required, and engine manufacturers require certain instruments be installed on the aircraft to monitor the performance of the particular engine.
The specific theory of operation and details of instruments is covered in the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, and is a prerequisite to this section on flight instruments. The altimeter is the most important flight instrument and should be on every WSC aircraft. It is used to maintain the proper altitude at airports, during cruise, and provides other aircraft position information for the safety of all.
The vertical speed indicator (VSI) is one tool to assist the pilot with the performance of the aircraft. The airspeed indicator (ASI) is used to optimize performance of the aircraft, compare predicted to actual performance, and to operate within the limitations of the aircraft.
A global positioning system (GPS) is typically used as a navigation and flight aid for most WSC aircraft. A magnetic compass is commonly used as a primary navigation system or as a backup when a GPS system is used.
There is a variety of engine instruments that are used. The most basic is the engine rpm, which determines the power of the engine. Specific engine instruments are discussed in the powerplant section.
Instrument Panel Arrangements
Instrument panels vary greatly from the basic to the complex. Figure 3-44 depicts a standard instrument panel supplied by the manufacturer with a portable GPS added in the middle. Electrical components are neatly arranged along the top. Large analog airspeed (left) and altitude (right) flight instruments are installed in the middle with the portable GPS installed between the two. The bottom stack consists of the basic engine instruments for a simple two-stroke air-cooled engine: RPM for power (top), CHT (middle) and EGT (bottom).
A more advanced analog panel with a user radio and GPS added is shown in Figure 3-45. Airspeed, vertical speed indicator, and altitude large flight instruments are along the top. A navigational gyro is in the middle of the panel. The bottom row consists of four-stroke engine instruments, electrical and remote fuel gauge. The user installed radio and GPS complete a well equipped instrument panel. A hybrid panel of analog, digital, and portable instruments is shown in Figure 3-46.
The integrated digital panel does provide more options in a smaller space. One panel can now have aircraft performance screens, engine systems screens, navigation screens, communications screens, attitude indicator, and any combination of these. [Figure 3-47]
There are three types of communications systems used in WSC aircraft:
- Communications between the pilot and passenger while inside the aircraft.
- Aircraft radio communications with other aircraft and control towers.
- Radar position indicator communications from the WSC aircraft to control towers (transponder).
Easy and clear communications between the pilot and passenger, or between the instructor and student inside the flight deck is important for the safety and enjoyment of both. Modern communications systems have advanced noise canceling systems in headphones and microphones to reduce engine noise and blast of air. Each system is unique, and the quality of the sound and noise canceling capability of the system varies. Some use voice-activated systems in which headphones activate only when someone is speaking into the microphone; others have a steady state in which there is no additional control of the voice activation. Since there is a large difference in systems available, it is best to test systems to determine what is best for the WSC aircraft being flown. [Figure 3-48]
An aircraft radio is required for flying in any tower controlled airspace. Using a radio is not required at airports without a control tower but it is recommended for the safety of self, passengers, pilots in the air, and people/property on the ground. To broadcast to a tower or other aircraft, press a Push To Talk (PTT) button. A complete flight deck radio and accessory system schematic is shown in Figure 3-49.
A radar signal receiver/transmitter system is required at busy commercial airports (Classes C and B) and at altitudes above 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL) (unless the aircraft was certified without an electrical system to power the unit). This is known as a Mode C transponder that sends a signal giving the control tower an exact location and altitude of aircraft. [Figure 3-47]