Common Gyroscopic Instruments in Aircraft

Gyroscopic instruments are common to aircraft, and they include those such as attitude indicators, heading indicators, and turn indicators. Such flight instruments garner their measurements with the use of a mechanical gyroscope, that of which is a device that may measure orientation and angular velocity through a wheel or disc placed on a free rotational axis. When used for aviation, gyroscopic instruments are either electrically or vacuum driven, though some modern installations have since begun using laser gyros. 

Vacuum driven gyroscopes function through the use of air that is sucked through the system, often relying on an engine mounted vacuum pump to direct streams of air against rotor vanes for a measurement. The air that is drawn often comes from the cabin, and its acceleration into the rotor of the gyroscope ensures that it can properly gather measurements. With electrical driven gyroscopic instruments, on the other hand, the gyroscope acts as a motor armature as it is spun at high speeds. Rather than rely on pumped air, alternating current is used to drive the gyroscopes in such assemblies. This is very beneficial for aircraft that operate at extreme altitudes where pump efficiency may be lower due to cold atmospheric conditions. 

Turn indicators are common flight instruments of aircraft, and they may come in the form of a turn-and-slip indicator or a turn coordinator. When the gyroscope is mounted within a turn-and-slip indicator, the instrument is only capable of discerning the rate of turn in the form of degrees per second. In the turn coordinator, however, the gyroscope direction is at an angle, and thus the instrument can initially measure roll rate before it stabilizes. Both instruments are crucial for finding the turn direction and coordination of the aircraft, though the latter measurement requires the pilot to reference the inclinometer as well.

The attitude indicator (AI) is a very important flight instrument that may be used to indicate the aircraft’s orientation in relation to Earth’s horizon. The attitude gyro may be driven through air streams or an electric motor, and the gyro is installed in a double gimbal assembly so that it stays vertically upright regardless of aircraft pitching and rolling. Relying on bearing friction, the gyroscopic system aviation instrument may counteract precession and operate as a self-erecting mechanism. The gimbals of the attitude indicator are attached to a gyroscopic horizon reference arm, and the rigidity of the instrument will cause the bank dial to adjust alongside the aircraft. Typically, the dial of the instrument will present an artificial horizon with the ground and sky placed on each half while an aircraft sits in the middle. With the bank index and reference lines displaying degrees of pitch, the turning of the instrument during attitude changes will display a visual reading and representation for the pilot. 

The heading indicator is the final common gyroscopic instrument, and it may be used to measure the heading of the aircraft in regard to compass points. Within the heading indicator instrument assembly, the gyroscope is tied to the yawing plane through an erection mechanism. Utilizing either electrical power or air streams from pumps, the gyroscopic instrument can garner readings and display them on a compass card. As gyroscope direction measurements may become inaccurate over time due to mechanical friction, pilots need to occasionally realign the instrument during their periodic flight checks.

With the various common gyroscopic instruments, pilots can take advantage of various readings to make flight operations safer and more efficient. Veritable Aviation is an online distributor of aircraft parts, and we are your sourcing solution for top gyroscopic system aviation parts and components. Customers can rest assured that our products are of the highest quality as we subject every item to rigorous testing and inspection prior to shipment. Furthermore, we only stock our items from top global manufacturers that we trust, and every order is sent out alongside its qualifying certifications or manufacturing trace documentation as applicable. Send us a completed Request for Quote form today and see how we can fulfill all your operational needs with competitive pricing and rapid lead-times.


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