Safety Publications/Articles

Panel Photo

For most new student pilots, the instrument panel of a training airplane is sensory overload--a Disneyland of dials, knobs, switches, and lights. The same applies to the instrument student when transitioning to a different make and model of training airplane. So here's a training tip that you might find useful.

Have your student use a digital camera to take a picture of the instrument panel on the airplane most likely to be used for flight training. Take this file to an outlet like Kinkos and obtain an 11 x 17 (or larger) color print. Or have them load it to their computer for easy reference and study.

What's the payoff? First, your student can study the panel details in detail at home. He or she will immediately learn the location of important circuit breakers, such as the autopilot CB and the electric trim CB. Knowing the location of these CBs is absolutely essential for the safe operation of any airplane.

The location of panel light switches is important, too. Activate most panel light switches and the gear position lights (retractable gear assumed) will dim for night operations on most airplanes. Knowing the location of these light switches is important in solving no-show gear lights during the day.

Wait, there's more. Sometimes airplanes have unusually named switches, such as a parallax switch, that you might not know about unless the panel is studied carefully. This is a switch that helps to adjust the command bars on some flight directors based on sitting height. A good panel picture will help reveal these and other oddities.

So point, click, and shoot the panel with your digital camera. Your students will be better off for it.

By Rod Machado

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