Avionics Report

February 2000 Issue

Cheap and Smart Gyro Back-Ups

Putting a bottom line on the emergency gyro comfort factor. Figure on at least $1500.

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As the world of avionics marches boldly forward, giving us awesome color moving maps and soon the ability to paint weather displays uploaded from ground radar, one aspect of instrument flying is mired in a stagnant backwater: The lowly attitude gyro.

While radios and navigators press the cutting edge, the basic gyro—especially the attitude gyro—has changed little during the past half century. Although AIs aren’t especially failure prone, watching one roll over from the comfort of a cockpit immersed in solid clag is disconcerting at the least, terrifying at worst.

A recent high-profile accident (see link to "An Ugly Accident") in which a pilot appears to have lost it due...

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