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This article is about the flight deck of an aircraft. For other uses, see Cockpit (disambiguation).
or flight deck
is the area, usually near the front of an aircraft,
from which a pilot controls the aircraft. Most modern cockpits are
enclosed, except on some small aircraft, and cockpits on large airliners are also physically separated from the cabin. From the cockpit an aircraft is controlled on the ground and in the air.
Cockpit as a term for the pilot's compartment in an aircraft first appeared in 1914. From about 1935 cockpit also came to be used informally to refer to the driver's seat of a car, especially a high performance one, and this is official terminology in Formula One. The term is most likely related to the sailing term for the coxswain's station in a Royal Navy ship, and later the location of the ship's rudder controls.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Airbus A380 cockpit. Most Airbus cockpits are computerised glass cockpits featuring fly-by-wire technology. The control column has been replaced with an electronic sidestick.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Swiss HB-IZX Saab 2000 cockpit[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Robin DR400/500[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
1936 de Havilland Hornet Moth cockpit
The cockpit of an aircraft contains flight instruments
on an instrument panel, and the controls which enable the pilot to fly
the aircraft. In most airliners, a door separates the cockpit from the
passenger compartment. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, all major airlines fortified the cockpit against access by hijackers.
On an airliner, the cockpit is usually referred to as the flight
deck. This term derives from its use by the RAF for the separate, upper
platform where the pilot and co-pilot sat in large flying boats.Ergonomics
The first airplane with an enclosed cabin appeared in 1913 on Igor Sikorsky's airplane The Grand
However, during the 1920s there were many passenger aircraft in which
the crew were open to the air while the passengers sat in a cabin.
Military biplanes and the first single-engined fighters and attack
aircraft also had open cockpits into the Second World War. Early airplanes with closed cockpits were the 1924 Fokker tri-motor, the 1926 Ford Tri-Motor, the 1927 Lockheed Vega, the Spirit of St. Louis, the 1931 Taylor Cub,
German Junkers used as military transports, and the passenger aircraft
manufactured by the Douglas and Boeing companies during the mid-1930s.
Open-cockpit airplanes were almost extinct by the mid-1950s, with theexception of training planes and crop-dusters.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
A pilot can be seen on the flight deck of this Continental Airlines Boeing 777-200 as it taxis to the take off point at London Heathrow Airport, England.
Cockpit windows may be equipped with a sun shield. Most cockpits
have windows which can be opened when the aircraft is on the ground.
Nearly all glass windows in large aircraft have a Anti-reflective coating, and an internal heating element to melt ice. Smaller aircraft may be equipped with a transparent aircraft canopy.
In most cockpits the pilot's control column or joystick is located centrally (centre stick), although in some military fast jets and in some commercial airliners the pilot uses a side-stick (usually located on the outboard side and/or at the left).
The layout of the cockpit, especially in the military fast jet, has
undergone standardisation, both within and between aircraft different
manufacturers and even different nations. One of the most important
developments was the “Basic Six” pattern, later the “Basic T”,
developed from 1937 onwards by the Royal Air Force, designed to optimise pilot instrument scanning.
Ergonomics and human factors concerns are important in the design of
modern cockpits. The layout and function of cockpit displays controls
are designed to increase pilot situation awareness
without causing information overload. In the past, many cockpits,
especially in fighter aircraft, limited the size of the pilots that
could fit into them. Now, cockpits are being designed to accommodate
from the 1st percentile female physical size and the 99th percentile male size.
In the design of the cockpit in a military fast jet, the traditional
“knobs and dials“ associated with the cockpit are mainly absent.
Instrument panels are now almost wholly replaced by electronic displays
which are themselves often re-configurable to save space. While some
hard-wired dedicated switches must still be used for reasons of
integrity and safety, many traditional controls are replaced by
multi-function re-configurable controls or so-called “soft keys”.
Controls are incorporated onto the stick and throttle to enable the
pilot to maintain a head-up and eyes-out position – the so-called Hands
On Throttle And Stick or HOTAS
concept,. These controls may be then further augmented by new control
media such as head pointing with a Helmet Mounted Sighting System or
Direct Voice Input (DVI). New advances in auditory displays even allow for Direct Voice Output
of aircraft status information and for the spatial localisation of
warning sounds for improved monitoring of aircraft systems. A central
concept in the design of the cockpit is the Design Eye Position or "DEP".
The layout of control panels in modern airliners has become largely
unified across the industry. The majority of the systems-related
controls (such as electrical, fuel, hydraulics and pressurization) for
example, are usually located in the ceiling on an overhead panel.
Radios are generally placed on a panel between the pilot's seats known
as the pedestal. Automatic flight controls such as the autopilot are usually placed just below the windscreen and above the main instrument panel on the glareshield.Flight instruments[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
USAF and IAF airmen work inside the cockpit of an IAF Ilyushin Il-76.
In the modern electronic cockpit, the flight instruments usually
regarded as essential are MCP, PFD, ND, EICAS, FMS/CDU and back-up
A Mode Control Panel,
usually a long narrow panel located centrally in front of the pilot,
may be used to control Heading(HDG), Speed(SPD), Altitude(ALT),
Vertical Speed(V/S), Vertical Navigation(VNAV) and Lateral
Navigation(LNAV). It may also be used to engage or disengage both the
autopilot and the autothrottle. The panel as an area is usually
referred to as the "glareshield panel". MCP is a Boeing designation
(that has been informally adopted as a generic name for the unit/panel)
for a unit that allows for the selection and parameter setting of the
different Autoflight functions, the same unit on an Airbus aircraft is
referred to as the FCU (Flight Control unit).PFD
The Primary Flight Display
will usually be located in a prominent position, either centrally or on
either side of the cockpit. It will show the current pressure setting
for the altimeter (local or standard), target speed and current speed,
target altitude and current altitude, vertical speed and the condition
of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) (if engaged). It may be pilot
selectable to swap with the ND.ND
A Navigation Display, which may be adjacent to the PFD, shows the
current route and information on the next waypoint, current wind speedand wind direction. It may be pilot selectable to swap with the PFD.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
VC-10 (1960s) The Vickers VC10 airliner featured an analogue cockpit, with old-style instruments.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
A later analogue cockpit (1970s) of a Hawker Siddeley Trident airliner.EICAS/ECAM
The Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System (for Boeing) or
Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (for Airbus) will allow the
pilot to monitor the following information: values for N1, N2 and N3,
fuel temperature, fuel flow, the electrical system, cockpit or cabin
temperature and pressure, control surfaces and so on. The pilot may
select display of information by means of button press.FMS
The Flight Management System/Control Unit may be used by the pilot
to enter and check for the following information: Flight Plan, Speed
Control, Navigation Control, and so on.Back-up instruments
In a less prominent part of the cockpit, in case of failure of the
other instruments, there will be a set of back-up instruments, showing
basic flight information such as Speed, Altitude, Heading, and aircraft
attitude.Aerospace industry technologies
In the U.S. the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
have researched the ergonomic aspects of cockpit design and have
conducted investigations of airline industry accidents. Cockpit design
disciplines include Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Human Computer Interaction, Human Factors Engineering, Anthropometry and Ergonomics.
Aircraft designs have adopted the fully digital “glass cockpit.” In
such designs, instruments and gauges, including navigational map
displays, use a user interface markup language known as ARINC 661.
This standard defines the interface between an independent cockpit
display system, generally produced by a single manufacturer, and the
user applications which need to be supported by it, by means of
displays and controls, often made by different manufacturers. The
separation between the overall display system, and the applications
driving it, allows for considerable specialization and independence.