What is Aircraft Attitude Indicator?

The attitude indicator (AI), also known as the artificial horizon, is an important flight instrument found in every aircraft. The AI helps the pilot maintain awareness of the aircraft’s position relative to the Earth’s horizon. It is particularly useful in times of inclement weather or other instrument meteorological conditions - conditions which require pilots to fly primarily or completely by the use of their instruments because of lack of visibility.

Inside the instrument is a spinning gyroscope, or gyro, that remains in the horizontal plane through precession with a pendulum mounted on the underside of the gyro. The center of gravity of the gyro and pendulum sits below the suspension points ensuring it stays upright and is able to stay in the horizontal plane. To better orient itself in regard to the direction of gravity, the attitude indicator has tiny pendulums on the rotor causing it to cover small air holes leading air to either be allowed or prevented to leave from the hole depending on the direction of gravity.  Despite this, the instrument can develop inaccuracies in pitch and bank over extended periods of acceleration, deceleration, or turns. This is because the instrument is not able to account for the curvature of the earth.

AI are prone to two different errors - acceleration and turning error. Both of these occur for the same reason: pendulosity to a false vertical. When an aircraft turns and accelerates, the gyro moves to the right. This will appear on the instrument as a climbing right turn. During deceleration, it has the opposite effect, appearing as a leftward descension. Higher performance aircraft will see this effect more severely because of their far greater power and acceleration capabilities.

The attitude indicator plays a vital role in any aircraft, and Complete Sourcing Solutions can help you find the right one for your aircraft. At Complete Sourcing Solutions, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can provide all the unique parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@completesourcingsolutions.com or call us at +1-503-374-0340.


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