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NTSB Finds Glass Cockpits Are Not Safer Than Steam Gauges

Source - http://www.ntsb.gov

The NTSB came to the conclusion yesterday that glass cockpits are not safer than conventional steam instruments. The study began more than a year ago to determine whether light fixed-wing aircraft equipped with glass cockpits such as the Garmin G1000 and Avidyne PFD4000 were actually safer, but the results found steam instruments have less of a fatality rate than the flat panel display systems.

The study, which looked at the accident rates of 8,000+ light piston-powered fixed-wing aircraft manufactured between 2002 and 2006, discovered that ones equipped with glass panel cockpits had a higher fatality rate then similar aircraft with conventional steam gauges. These accidents can be caused by any number of things, such as the pilot instilling too much faith in the autopilot system, distraction, or not adequetely trained on the device, etc. If a pilot flies various types of aircraft this can lead to a problem of proficiency with each one, since each may vary greatly.

The Safety Board determined that because glass cockpits are both complex and change from aircraft to aircraft in design, function, and failure modes, pilots are not always provided with all of the information they need, both by aircraft manufacturers and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to adequately understand the operational and functional details of the primary flight instruments in their airplanes.

The NTSB has made six recommendations to the FAA:

Enhance pilot knowledge and training requirements.
Require manufacturers to provide pilots with information to better manage system failures.
Incorporate training elements regarding electronic primary flight displays into training materials and aeronautical knowledge requirements.
Incorporate training elements regarding electronic primary flight displays into initial and recurrent flight proficiency requirements for pilots of small light general aviation airplanes equipped with those systems, that address variations in equipment design and operations of such displays
Support equipment-specific pilot training programs by developing guidance for the use of glass cockpit simulators other than those that are approved by the FAA as flight training devices.
Inform the general aviation community about the importance of reporting malfunctions or defects with electronic flight, navigation and control systems through the Service Difficulty Reporting system.

Source: http://www.ntsb.gov

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