Aircraft Flight Deck (Cockpit) Layout

The aircraft flight deck is a better term than the older usage of the word cockpit, which originated in ship design in the sixteenth century; it was similar to men working in a confined area under stress, like cocks that were forced to fight in a pit for sport. Crew station is another term meaning the same as a workplace for operators of any type of vehicle. To standardize terminology, this book uses flight deck, intended specifically for aircraft. The flight deck serves as a human-machine interface by providing (1) an outside reference of topography through the cabin win­dows, (2) onboard instruments to measure flight parameters, (3) control facilities to operate an aircraft safely for the mission role, and (4) management of aircraft sys­tems (e. g., the internal environment). Future designs with advanced displays could result in a visually closed flight deck (i. e., a TV replacing the windows). The front – fuselage shape can be influenced by the flight-deck design. Transport aircraft have two pilots sitting next to one another at a pitch of about 1.2 meters in smaller air­craft to 1.4 meters in larger aircraft. Understanding the flight-deck arrangements also provides a sense of the equipment requirements that result in a measure of the associated weights involved. The space and adequacy of vision polar, which estab­lishes the window-size requirements, also can be better understood.

Both civil and military aircraft pilots have the following common functions:

• mission management (planning, checks, takeoff, climb cruise, descent, and landing)

• flight-path control

• systems management

• communication*

• navigation*

• routine postflight debriefing

• emergency action when required (drills differ between civil and military aircraft)*

*Civil aircraft pilots are assisted by ground control (i. e., communication and naviga­tion), whereas in a critical situation, combat pilots must manage the aircraft them­selves – which is a significant difference. Both situations may require taking emer­gency actions, but for a combat pilot, this could be drastic in nature (i. e., ejection; see Section 15.10). In addition, military aircraft pilots have an intense workload, as follows:

• mission planning (e. g., Lo/High combination; see Chapter 13); this is required for mission management (preflight briefing may change if the situation demands)

• target acquisition

• weapons management and delivery

• defensive measures and maneuvers

• counterthreats; use of tactics

• management of situation when hit

• in-flight refueling, where applicable

• detailed postflight briefing in special situations

The military aircraft flight deck is under more stringent design requirements. The civil aircraft flight-deck design is in the wake of military standards and the provi­sion of space is less constrained. This is why the military aircraft flight deck is dis­cussed first (see Figure 15.16). An aircraft flight-deck design has changed dramati­cally since the early analog-dial displays (i. e., four-engine aircraft gauges now fill the front panel; see Figure 15.17) to modern microprocessor-based data management in an integrated, all-glass, multifunctional display (MFD), which is also known as an electronic flight information system (EFIS).