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5 Answers

objects on top of instrument panel shroud

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General Aviation

Hello: I have been advised never to place anything on top of the instrument panel. What considerations apply if someone recommends placing a portable gps locator transmitter and receiver (or any object) on top of the instrument panel (such as affecting compass, navigation instruments or radios, windshield reflections, shroud loading, safety in turbulance, possible STC if attached with velcro, etc.)? Is there a history of associated problems?

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5 Answers

  1. John D. Collins on Jun 16, 2011

    See FAR 91.21 below.  

    91.21 Portable electronic devices.

    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any of the following U.S.-registered civil aircraft:
    (1) Aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate; or
    (2) Any other aircraft while it is operated under IFR.


    (b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to–
    (1) Portable voice recorders;
    (2) Hearing aids;
    (3) Heart pacemakers;
    (4) Electric shavers; or
    (5) Any other portable electronic device that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.


    Interference with the magnetic compass can be caused by magnetic material near the compass.  You can see this effect when the item is close to the location of the compass, as it will cause the compass to move.  Some antennas have a magnet intended to adhere it to a metal surface, you should not place items with a magnet on the glareshield as they will interfere with the compass.  If you can’t find a location on the glareshield that has no effect on the compass, then don’t put it on the glareshield.  I have found that often, items can be placed in a far corner of the glareshield, as far away from the magnetic compass as possible, and they don’t have an affect.  If you plan to fly IFR, then you also need to determine that the items do not interfere with any of your navigation or communication equipment when they are on.

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  2. Earl Kessler on Jun 16, 2011

    A little off the main focus, I often see students place metal kneeboards and headsets on top of the dash.  The windscreen is made of a soft plastic that easily scratches.  Once you have a marring of the inside of the windscreen, it is very difficult to remove.  Keep hard items away from the soft plastic to preserve a good view.

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  3. Jim Foley on Jun 17, 2011

    Rough turb. and heavy objects do not mix.  I was seeing stars after being hit by a flying camera during some zero-g parabolas. 
    Any electronic device, even those with out magnets, create electromagnetic feilds (EMF) which, can/do affect the compass.  I have not had any trouble when I mount it on the far side of the instrument panel.
    As for the scratches/damage because of items, I have not noticed any issues with this at my flight school, and just about everybody places headsets and kneeboards up there.  Not saying they’re not there, I just havn’t noticed it.  I’ll be sure to look next time.
    (BTW, who uses shavers while flying?  That’s the FAA for you.)

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  4. James MacGregor CFI on Jun 19, 2011

    Just use a little common sense, if you put a chart up there ok, if you step out to fuel the AC up and put your headset up there, ok. obviously you are going to remove your headset when you get going, obviously you are not going to block your view with a bunch of charts.
     John, your quick with those FARs!!

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  5. Andy Neumann on Jul 11, 2011

    When the airplane’s parked, it’s a matter of how careful you are not to scratch the windscreen.  On plexi, it’s a nuisance.  On a glass windscreen, you might have to replace the entire windscreen (tens of thousands of dollars) for a scratch you caused with the bracket on the side of your headset.  Boss not happy.  So for all you soon-to-be commercial pilots out there–putting anything hard on the glareshield is not a habit I would condone.
    In flight, I agree with the above and add two more thoughts:
    1.  Reflections on the windscreen are distracting.  There’s a reason the glareshield is black.  You defeat the purpose if you put a bunch of white charts or anything light colored up there. 
    2.  CRM.  Everything should have its place.  Not only so you don’t get hit in the head with a portable GPS or get a paper cut from flying charts (joke), but also because you need to stay organized. 

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