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Instrument rating and the 6 basic instruments used in flight

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Instrument Rating

we all know the 6 basic instruments in flight.

we have the airspeed indicator, attitude indicator, altimeter, turn & slip indicator, heading indicator and vertical speed indicator.

in instrument flying how do we rank:

a. climb

b. descent

c. level flight

d. level turn

e. descending turn

f. climbing turn

according to the 6 basic instruments? sort by importance.

thanks a lot!

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1 Answers



  1. John D Collins on Dec 14, 2014

    How the instruments rank in performing the various flight maneuvers, is not the question I would ask a student. There is a concept that is taught in instrument flying called primary flight instruments and which instruments are primary for pitch, bank, and power is based on what you are trying to accomplish in the assigned maneuver. Flight is controlled by pitch, bank, and power. A primary flight instrument can be thought of as the instrument(s) that answer the question: are you performing the assigned maneuver correctly or incorrectlly? So for example, with straight and level flight, one is expected to maintain an assigned heading, altitude, and airspeed. It should be obvious that the primary instruments to perform this are the heading indicator, the altimeter, and the airspeed indicator. In this example, the primary pitch instrument is the altimeter, primary bank is the heading indicator, and primary power is the airspeed indicator.

    When in a turn, primary bank changes from the heading indicator to the turn indicator as one is expected to maintain a standard turn rate. When in a climb or descent, they may be made at a constant rate (say 500 FPM) or maximum performance say best rate or glide. Primary pitch in the constant rate case switches to the VSI and in a best rate situation, it changes to the airspeed indicator. In the latter case, primary power switches from the airspeed indicator to the power indicator such as the tach or manifold pressure gage. Maneuvers which are combinations of these, the primary bank, pitch, and power instruments are changed in combination.

    Even though the attitude indicator does not show as a primary instrument, it is one of the most important, particularly for transitions from one flight maneuver to another (level off, initial roll into a turn) or it provides the information that a correction has or has not been input in response to a deviation (or need for one) on one of the primary instruments.

    I will leave it to you to answer the rest of your own questions.

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