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Faro
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787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:13 am

Like the question says, why use trackballs instead of touchscreens (or even touchpads) on the keypad units of these airliners' FMS's?


Faro
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airmagnac
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 12:11 pm

Touchscreens became widespread about 10 years ago. Once a technology has matured enough to reliably offer its basic functionalities, there is still years worth of work to develop & test a solution which will work in all possible aviation scenarios, and then be certified. Which is why even the C-Series did not embark touchscreens, and only with the 777X will they appear on airliners.

So to answer the question : 787 and A380 technologies were frozen back around 2000-2003. A350 re-used many A380 system solutions and was frozen around 2006. All too early to use touchscreens
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WIederling
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 12:57 pm

airmagnac wrote:
Touchscreens became widespread about 10 years ago. Once a technology has matured enough to reliably offer its basic functionalities, there is still years worth of work to develop & test a solution which will work in all possible aviation scenarios, and then be certified. Which is why even the C-Series did not embark touchscreens, and only with the 777X will they appear on airliners.

So to answer the question : 787 and A380 technologies were frozen back around 2000-2003. A350 re-used many A380 system solutions and was frozen around 2006. All too early to use touchscreens


For a touchscreen you have to be nearer the screen than what is felt as ergonomic.
Well placed interaction on a touchscreen beyond a desktop environment can put high demand on coordination.
Difficult to keep your arm/hand in place. Good chance to hit the wrong field.
Trackball is a much more robust interface. .. and your fingers don't obscure the area you want to point at/click on.

Most "Click" interfaces activate on release. Even hitting the wrong button you can still move the cursor out of the widget
and release there ( and no action taken ).
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Starlionblue
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:33 pm

The trackball on the 350 isn't bad. Personal opinion: for the EFB a touchscreen would be better, but for the FMS/MFD functions I prefer the trackball and even the 330 side key functionality. The 330 MCDU takes longer to learn but once you know it is more straightforward.

I can see a hybrid developing with trackball for flight critical functions and touchscreen for EFB.
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 3:29 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
The trackball on the 350 isn't bad. Personal opinion: for the EFB a touchscreen would be better, but for the FMS/MFD functions I prefer the trackball and even the 330 side key functionality.


I second that. Touchscreen are good for EFB's.
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zeke
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:14 pm

Touchscreen is available on the A350 if you order it.
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BravoOne
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:26 pm

I think the touch screen is the biggest mistake yet on the 777X and they would like to see it on the 787 and 737 Max as well. Very poor idea!
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:38 pm

Leaning forward repeatedly would be one good reason for NOT using touch screens. Fingerprints all over the screen is a second. A trackball is easy and intuitive to use.

GF
 
BoeingGuy
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 4:49 pm

The 787 has a Cursor Control Device where you run your finger on it to move the cursor, not a track ball. The KC-46 has a track ball.
 
BravoOne
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 5:26 pm

BoeingGuy wrote:
The 787 has a Cursor Control Device where you run your finger on it to move the cursor, not a track ball. The KC-46 has a track ball.


The 777 is pretty intuitive, but I'm not a fan of the 787 even though there are so many ways to skin that cat.
 
WIederling
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:12 pm

BoeingGuy wrote:
The 787 has a Cursor Control Device where you run your finger on it to move the cursor,


~= aka "TouchPad" ?

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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:42 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Leaning forward repeatedly would be one good reason for NOT using touch screens. Fingerprints all over the screen is a second. A trackball is easy and intuitive to use.

GF


I agree that leaning forward repeatedly is bad. However if you're sitting properly most screens on your side of the cockpit are reachable with your finger without leaning. In the specific case of the 350, the EFB is on the outer screen, which is slightly closer to you.

The FMS/MCDU/MFD, that screen is easily reachable. After all, the now "classic" FMS/MCDU screen as on the 330 or 777 has buttons around it.


I'd say it is largely a question of "usage pattern". The MCDU/FMS/MFD is used in bursts, and with precise sequences of commands. On the 330 MCDU all I get are buttons, and it's not a problem. It does not "present" functionality as clearly as the 350 MFD, and so takes a bit longer to learn, but once you know it you can do what you need to rapidly and precisely. The 350 MFD is clearer and more intuitive but this is not really a function of trackball vs touch screen. The presentation is just more modern because it's not a tiny screen with a limited number of alphanumerical lines. Also on the 350 I still get a full keyboard and shortcut keys (the only thing missing are the line select keys on the old MCDU). Being able to click a specific "PERF" or "F-PLN" key beats scrolling and clicking to that function any day.

Usage of the EFB is more "browsy", and the EFB contains multiple functions that you tend to go back and forth between, for example enroute chart to approach chart to metric conversion chart to ops manual. IMHO this usage pattern on the EFB makes it suitable for a touch screen. It's a bit of a pain to have to use the trackball on the EFB. My "EFB equivalent" iPad, which obviously has a touchscreen, is a pleasure to navigate and I can do it much faster.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
rg787
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:40 am

WIederling wrote:
airmagnac wrote:
Touchscreens became widespread about 10 years ago. Once a technology has matured enough to reliably offer its basic functionalities, there is still years worth of work to develop & test a solution which will work in all possible aviation scenarios, and then be certified. Which is why even the C-Series did not embark touchscreens, and only with the 777X will they appear on airliners.

So to answer the question : 787 and A380 technologies were frozen back around 2000-2003. A350 re-used many A380 system solutions and was frozen around 2006. All too early to use touchscreens


For a touchscreen you have to be nearer the screen than what is felt as ergonomic.
Well placed interaction on a touchscreen beyond a desktop environment can put high demand on coordination.
Difficult to keep your arm/hand in place. Good chance to hit the wrong field.
Trackball is a much more robust interface. .. and your fingers don't obscure the area you want to point at/click on.


Completely agree. While it is true that I am not a pilot, it is very annoying for me to use touch screens on cars. It has been a trend in cars to put a touchscreen on the dashboard. I have 1,85m and when I am driving it is very difficult to reach the screen AND to get the button right, and the higher you are, the harder it gets. I much prefer the Mercedes system, for example, which is similar in some ways to a trackball.
 
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:02 am

BravoOne wrote:
BoeingGuy wrote:
The 787 has a Cursor Control Device where you run your finger on it to move the cursor, not a track ball. The KC-46 has a track ball.


The 777 is pretty intuitive, but I'm not a fan of the 787 even though there are so many ways to skin that cat.

Are you speaking of the sort of virtual CDU on the 787? I know some pilots don't like that.
 
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:38 am

Seems like a bad idea to have touchscreens, besides, what's the advantage ?


I can see wrong inputs being made constantly in turbulence when your finger hits the wrong selection !
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:29 am

Max Q wrote:
Seems like a bad idea to have touchscreens, besides, what's the advantage ?


I can see wrong inputs being made constantly in turbulence when your finger hits the wrong selection !


For programming the FMS functions and other such flight critical stuff, I would prefer NOT to have a touchscreen. However we have a large EFB screen with many functions. Seems it would be easier and faster to navigate with a touchscreen compared to scrolling through menus.

Keep the trackball for use during turbulence.
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:44 am

Starlionblue wrote:
However we have a large EFB screen with many functions. Seems it would be easier and faster to navigate with a touchscreen compared to scrolling through menus.


We have iPad based EFBs. While I haven't tried anything else, I can't really see the alternatives being anywhere near as good - the touchscreen and iPad-EFB combined with the Jeppesen program is extremely intuitive, fast and easy to use. I would hate having to use some awkward complicated controller for it.
I wouldn't want touchscreens anywhere near the essential instruments and screens though, and why should it even be needed? I change the contents of that screen maybe 1 or 2 times over the course of a flight. For changing the course and heading, the AFCS panel is better.
 
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Faro
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:51 am

Starlionblue wrote:
Max Q wrote:
For programming the FMS functions and other such flight critical stuff, I would prefer NOT to have a touchscreen.



Do flight crew still spend hours fidgeting flight plan details into FMS's and checking and re-checking input? I thought they mostly load pre-set company flight plans into the contraptions...


Faro
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Starlionblue
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:58 am

Faro wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
Max Q wrote:
For programming the FMS functions and other such flight critical stuff, I would prefer NOT to have a touchscreen.



Do flight crew still spend hours fidgeting flight plan details into FMS's and checking and re-checking input? I thought they mostly load pre-set company flight plans into the contraptions...


Faro


While we almost always pre-load for the primary flight plan, in flight we use the FMS for direct routings given, fuel calculations, secondary flight plans (escape routes and/or alternates) and so forth.

The Box" is much fidgeted with in flight.
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zeke
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:31 am

VSMUT wrote:
We have iPad based EFBs. While I haven't tried anything else, I can't really see the alternatives being anywhere near as good - the touchscreen and iPad-EFB combined with the Jeppesen program is extremely intuitive, fast and easy to use. I would hate having to use some awkward complicated controller for it.
I wouldn't want touchscreens anywhere near the essential instruments and screens though, and why should it even be needed? I change the contents of that screen maybe 1 or 2 times over the course of a flight. For changing the course and heading, the AFCS panel is better.


Can basically have similar on the outer screen on the A350 if you pay for it. You can switch charts by pressing a context sensitive area on the screen for example to flip between approach, ground, and apron charts.
Human rights lawyers are "ambulance chasers of the very worst kind.'" - Sky News
 
Flow2706
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:56 pm

I still fly "old" A320s with the old FMGC - but since last year we have a Class 2+ EFB on a Panasonic tablet (windows based). The tablet is obviously a touchscreen and I really like it. The touchscreen is very good for moving around the enroute chart (usually it automatically centers on the aircraft position with GPS/IR data, but you can also move it around manually, f.e. to check a point further down the route or for making the PA in the cruise). Even in turbulence I never had any issue with hitting the correct field on the EFB. However I agree with the other guys that using a touchscreen for flight critical functionality is not a good idea - its way to easy to inadvertently make an input (and possibly not even notice what you did for a long time). Especially on the ground there can be a lot of stuff thats being moved around (tech log, ACARS printouts, load sheets etc.) and its too easy to inadvertently hit something with possible bad consequences (f.e. inadvertently change the SID or similar).
 
Max Q
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:25 pm

Faro wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
Max Q wrote:
For programming the FMS functions and other such flight critical stuff, I would prefer NOT to have a touchscreen.



Do flight crew still spend hours fidgeting flight plan details into FMS's and checking and re-checking input? I thought they mostly load pre-set company flight plans into the contraptions...


Faro



We don't store routes they are downlinked via satellite, takes about 10 minutes to verify all is loaded correctly prior to flight, hardly hours, with the old fashioned INS loading and checking co-ordinates for each waypoint, it took a lot longer, but not these days in a modern cockpit.
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
wpnstroop
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Sat May 20, 2017 3:39 pm

The EFB on Virgin 78's is touchscreen
 
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rjsampson
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Sun May 21, 2017 2:55 am

I don't fly heavy Iron, just the light stuff. But darn, have I made mistakes with my finger on my iPad en route during turbulence. Of course, I suspect airliners have far more stability in turbulence than, say, a B58. Never had the chance to use a trackball. Never had the chance to use a touchscreen beyond a suction-cup mounted iPad. I wouldn't know the difference. I'd suspect that they both have their own pro's and con's.

Having used trackballs in my career on the ground: My personal opinion that fixed LCD's with big enough icons may be be preferable?. The G1000 certainly offers neither trackballs or touch. If suppose I had my choice in "tin cans,": I'd go for touch on fixed LCDs over a trackball. Just my $0.02 speaking as someone solely with experience on both interfaces on the ground, and completely unqualified to answer the question while airborne in revenue-generating aircraft.

Interesting discussion.
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Max Q
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Sun May 21, 2017 4:50 am

No one has mentioned another disadvantage with touchscreens.


Greasy fingermarks ! already an issue with some of our more 'Neanderthal' pilots who insist on
putting their grubby fingers all over the CDU and display panels.


This seems like a solution in search of a non existent problem with the exception of the EFB .
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
WPvsMW
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Sun May 21, 2017 12:46 pm

Have any carriers gone through the OpSpecs process to interface STC/ATC EFBs with FMSs to the point of having EFB docking stations in the cockpit?

Do Part 135 & 121 cockpits use moving airport maps sourced from the EFB?
 
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Sun May 21, 2017 2:08 pm

A general consensus on small boats: Touch screens do not work as well as buttons and keyboards in difficult sea conditions, From my limited experience touch screens don't work at all when the boat is pitching and rolling. Obviously not the normal conditions of flying a large plane, but it happens.
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Sun May 21, 2017 2:20 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
A general consensus on small boats: Touch screens do not work as well as buttons and keyboards in difficult sea conditions, From my limited experience touch screens don't work at all when the boat is pitching and rolling. Obviously not the normal conditions of flying a large plane, but it happens.


I work with on cars for a living and the touchscreen radios/interface are evil. Just trying to adjust cabin temp over bumps is a pain and a source of complaints. I am a fan of touch screen in some applications but there are places where a physical button may be so much more precise and safer than a screen. Some cars have a knob to turn and push to do some functions and that works well as a track ball I guess, so much easier. Again not plane related but relevant I guess.

C.
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Starlionblue
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Mon May 22, 2017 12:21 am

Classa64 wrote:
frmrCapCadet wrote:
A general consensus on small boats: Touch screens do not work as well as buttons and keyboards in difficult sea conditions, From my limited experience touch screens don't work at all when the boat is pitching and rolling. Obviously not the normal conditions of flying a large plane, but it happens.


I work with on cars for a living and the touchscreen radios/interface are evil. Just trying to adjust cabin temp over bumps is a pain and a source of complaints. I am a fan of touch screen in some applications but there are places where a physical button may be so much more precise and safer than a screen. Some cars have a knob to turn and push to do some functions and that works well as a track ball I guess, so much easier. Again not plane related but relevant I guess.

C.


Certainly there are things that work better with physical buttons. As mentioned above, I think a hybrid approach might be best. Physical buttons and controls for the aircraft systems, and touchscreens for the EFB, maintenance log, manuals, charts, etc... If nothing else the EFB can have traditional input as well.


WPvsMW wrote:
Have any carriers gone through the OpSpecs process to interface STC/ATC EFBs with FMSs to the point of having EFB docking stations in the cockpit?

Do Part 135 & 121 cockpits use moving airport maps sourced from the EFB?


Good question. I think this would be a complex certification process.

On the 350, the moving airport map is on the ANF (Airport Navigation Function) database, not on the EFB. Also, the EFB does not interface with the FMS.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
airtechy
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Mon May 22, 2017 2:59 am

I can see how a touchscreen or keypad would be better for certain entries, but for simple stuff like frequency selection or transponder code entry give me concentric knobs anytime. Knobs are a support point for the arm in turbulence.

edit..typo
 
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Mon May 22, 2017 3:26 am

airtechy wrote:
I can see how a touchscreen or keypad would be better for certain entries, but for simple stuff like frequency selection or transponder code entry give me concentric knobs anytime. Knobs are a support point for the arm in turbulence.

edit..typo


Knobs are fine, but I'm a big fan of the keypad on the 350. Way less input required than with concentric knobs.

Image

It has a clever way of saving keystrokes. For example if you enter "635" it automatically gives you "126.350". (Of course entering "126 point 350" also works, or "12635" etc...)


Max Q wrote:
No one has mentioned another disadvantage with touchscreens.


Greasy fingermarks ! already an issue with some of our more 'Neanderthal' pilots who insist on
putting their grubby fingers all over the CDU and display panels.


This seems like a solution in search of a non existent problem with the exception of the EFB .


People who put their fingers on non-touchscreens is a pet peeve of mine. Grrrrr....

On touchscreens, fingerprints are unavoidable. Good thing we get wipes. :D
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
airtechy
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Mon May 22, 2017 7:12 pm

Starlineblue....thanks for the input. From the pic, it appears that they have managed to get all the telecommunication controls into one panel. Sure beats separate control heads for each one. I can see how you would like the thought put into this.

In the early seventies, the company I worked for chartered an ex-TWA Connie to do some mapping work. The radio rack....opposite to the flight engineer....had two HF radios and antenna tuners (vacuum tubes of course!) plus other comm gear that weighed a ton (or several!). Frequency changes involved motor driven switchers and a lot of grinding noise! Separate control heads for everything and because the Connie had a tiny panel they were scattered everywhere. Amazing how things have changed.

Jim
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: 787/A350/A380: Why Trackball and Button Instead of Touchscreen?

Mon May 22, 2017 11:48 pm

airtechy wrote:
Starlineblue....thanks for the input. From the pic, it appears that they have managed to get all the telecommunication controls into one panel. Sure beats separate control heads for each one. I can see how you would like the thought put into this.

In the early seventies, the company I worked for chartered an ex-TWA Connie to do some mapping work. The radio rack....opposite to the flight engineer....had two HF radios and antenna tuners (vacuum tubes of course!) plus other comm gear that weighed a ton (or several!). Frequency changes involved motor driven switchers and a lot of grinding noise! Separate control heads for everything and because the Connie had a tiny panel they were scattered everywhere. Amazing how things have changed.

Jim


Changes indeed. I have a feeling that combined audio/radio/satcom/transponder panel on the 350 has more computing power than the MCDU (FMS panel) on the 330. :D

Going back and forth with 330 is a bit of a challenge. I keep forgetting to press the button that makes the panel 2 knobs change VHF1, so I end up changing VHF2. ARGH!
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