What is a Flight Director?

While early aircraft were often rudimentary in design and gave little assistance to pilots throughout a flight operation, consistent developments over the years have introduced advanced technologies that greatly benefit efficiency and safety. The flight director system of an aircraft is an instrument system that contains the various electronic components and assemblies that compute and relay to the pilot the required attitude needed to follow a certain set trajectory. The flight director is often integrated within autopilot systems, and such technologies have consistently improved to increase their capabilities and reliability.

While many flight director systems have integration with autopilot systems, such devices may be considered similar to an autopilot system that is devoid of servos. With their various components, the required aircraft attitude will be determined and displayed on a command bar which is situated on the attitude indicator. With the readings provided by the flight director, pilots can see how much change the aircraft’s attitude needs for a desired result, as well as the direction that the change should occur in. To enact the required attitude adjustments, the pilot will use the readings provided to them and will execute maneuvers in accordance with the commands given by the instrument panel. While changes must be executed by the pilot themselves, such systems still pose the benefit of removing metal calculations needed to undertake interception angles, wind drift correction, or to set an optimal rate of climb and descent.

When an aircraft features a flight director, the commands will be displayed on an instrument known as the flight director indicator (FDI), attitude director indicator (ADI), or electronic director indicator (EADI). Additionally, some systems may even be referred to as an artificial horizon. Similar to a typical autopilot system, the flight director will be composed of sensing elements, an interface panel, and a computer flight director system. If the flight director is capable of integrating navigation features, the pilot may be provided information on how they can maneuver their aircraft while maintaining a desired course. In order to do this, the VOR function on the flight director control panel may be actuated so that the computer is linked with the omnirange receiver. After, the pilot will then set a course so that the flight director may manage a bank attitude that is required for the desired path. To further alleviate the work of the pilot, the flight director will often automatically allocate wind drift and intercept angle calculations.

Just like many systems of varying aircraft, flight director systems can vary in their complexity and offered features. A great number have features such as attitude hold, pitch hold, attitude select, and more. Nevertheless, most are designed to majorly benefit the instrument approach phase of flight, taking advantage of ILS localizer and glideslope signals to provide the pilot with commands. As such, the flight director system increases the safety of runway landing operations. With the various readings provided, the pilot simply has to maintain alignment of the aircraft symbol in the command bar for a landing.

When you are in need of various aircraft parts and components for your operations, ASAP Aerospace Hub is your sourcing solution. We carry numerous top-quality flight director parts that have been sourced from leading manufacturers such as Guardian Electric Co Inc, Rockwell Collins Inc, L-3 Communications Corporation, Raytheon Technical Services Company, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, and others. If you are interested in any listed part on our website, send us a quote request for your comparisons and a dedicated account manager will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less, 24/7x365. Experience the ASAP difference today and see how we can fulfill all your operational requirements quickly and easily.


December 15, 2022

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