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Avionics Indicators

In order to fly commercial or recreational aircraft, there is specific information pilots must have at all times. Especially in limited visibility, instrument-only navigation requires avionics indicators be present and working. Whether you're looking to replace broken parts or you're building a dash from scratch, avionics indicators are a key component.

What avionics indicators are required?

By law, all aircraft must have certain indicators in place. These indicators may be bundled together or sold as separate systems. Regardless, these systems must be present at all times and are subject to regular inspection. If there are other planes or obstacles nearby, these core indicators allow you to share your status with local air traffic control. There are three things your instruments must show you:

  • Altitude: Altimeters measure the distance of your aircraft from sea level based on changing air pressure.
  • Altitude Inclination: In addition to measuring current altitude, your altimeter must indicate whether you are flying level, up, or down. If up or down, you must know at what rate you are ascending or descending.
  • Airspeed: Your instruments must indicate how fast you are currently moving through the air.
What other avionics indicators should you have?

In addition to the required indicators, these are additional indicators which are good to have, if at all possible.

  • Temperature: While not strictly necessary, temperatures can affect lift. For safety reasons, it is always a good idea to know about any sudden temperature change.
  • Warning Lights: If a fuel line breaks or one of your engines stops working, warning lights can alert you so you can respond accordingly.
  • Clock: Having a clock in the dash will help you keep track of flight time without needing to check your watch.
How do you find indicators for your aircraft?

Most avionics indicators are interchangeable. With proper wiring knowledge and the correct size hole in your dash, you can probably make it work. That said, indicator input signals can and do change. For this reason, planes generally use indicators made in approximately the same decade or so. You may need to modify the dash wiring system if you need to use older parts.

How do you repair avionics indicators?

One of the benefits of having a small plane and some mechanical knowledge is the joy of searching for spare parts. While not all damage can be fixed, broken parts from two or more identical indicators can often be salvaged to create a single, functional whole. If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, repairing indicators can be a fun and informative way to get your plane flying.

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