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convair880mfan
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Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Fri Aug 20, 2021 5:48 pm

Overhead panels with toggle switches, push button switches . . . panels with exterior light controls and others where those are moved to the glare shield . . . the position of various controls and indicators. Are some aircraft more user friendly with regard to the overhead panel? Do you think some designs are good or spot on while others are needlessly unfriendly or a pain?

Thanks for one and all responses. I imagine some panels are perhaps tailored not only to the plane but also the operating airline.
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Fri Aug 20, 2021 8:02 pm

Not trying to offend anybody but hard to deny that many pilots on long haul, can find a switch on the overhead to focus on while his eyelids slowly come to the close position. ...at least in the old days.
 
Snuffaluffagus
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Fri Aug 20, 2021 10:16 pm

I flew the A320 for four years and I’m currently in my 737 type rating class/sims. The 737 overhead is as if someone took a box of switches and just threw them at the overhead and where they landed is where the switch went. The A320 was much easier to look at, same for the E175 which was a simpler overhead than the E145 I also flew. But the 737 is in its own world.
 
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rjsampson
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Fri Aug 20, 2021 10:50 pm

Snuffaluffagus wrote:
I flew the A320 for four years and I’m currently in my 737 type rating class/sims. The 737 overhead is as if someone took a box of switches and just threw them at the overhead and where they landed is where the switch went. The A320 was much easier to look at, same for the E175 which was a simpler overhead than the E145 I also flew. But the 737 is in its own world.


I suppose that if there's any redeeming quality in the early 1960's panel in the 73... It's tactile, and easy to know the switch by feel alone. OTOH I'd imagine it's as RetiredWeasel said: Pilots know where each switch is regardless of the panel type.
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Fri Aug 20, 2021 11:22 pm

rjsampson wrote:
Snuffaluffagus wrote:
I flew the A320 for four years and I’m currently in my 737 type rating class/sims. The 737 overhead is as if someone took a box of switches and just threw them at the overhead and where they landed is where the switch went. The A320 was much easier to look at, same for the E175 which was a simpler overhead than the E145 I also flew. But the 737 is in its own world.


I suppose that if there's any redeeming quality in the early 1960's panel in the 73... It's tactile, and easy to know the switch by feel alone. OTOH I'd imagine it's as RetiredWeasel said: Pilots know where each switch is regardless of the panel type.


Actually I was just trying (I guess unsuccessfully) trying to relate the short nap experience. "You have it, while I inspect the overhead panel". Id like a dollar for everytime I heard that. :)
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Sat Aug 21, 2021 1:49 am

Flying two similar types can cause a few hiccups.

The RAT MAN ON pushbutton is on the HYD panel on the A330 and on the EMER ELEC PWR panel on the A350. This makes sense as the RAT drives a hydraulic pump on the A330 and an electric generator on the A350. But it can still lead to momentary confusion in a sim.

What I would like to know is why the RAM AIR pushbutton, which does the same thing on both types, is in the top left corner of the AIR panel on the A330, and in the bottom right corner of the AIR panel on the A350.

Such little niggles aside, in my opinion, the Airbus panel is logical and clear. I've tried the 747 and 777 sims and the panels don't seem nearly as clearly laid out. Granted, it probably helps if you're properly familiar with them.


rjsampson wrote:
Snuffaluffagus wrote:
I flew the A320 for four years and I’m currently in my 737 type rating class/sims. The 737 overhead is as if someone took a box of switches and just threw them at the overhead and where they landed is where the switch went. The A320 was much easier to look at, same for the E175 which was a simpler overhead than the E145 I also flew. But the 737 is in its own world.


I suppose that if there's any redeeming quality in the early 1960's panel in the 73... It's tactile, and easy to know the switch by feel alone. OTOH I'd imagine it's as RetiredWeasel said: Pilots know where each switch is regardless of the panel type.


I can only speak for myself but I don't think I could tell you exactly precisely where they all are from memory. For example, we might never use some of the more obscure stuff way at the top, e.g. TOWING ON BAT POWER. So those we might have to go digging for. ;)

I can tell you where the frequently used and/or important in a non-normal situation controls are located. The rest I can easily find because I will know which panel they are on.

Tactile has its merits, but "dark cockpit" on Airbus makes finding whatever wants attention very simple.

Also, please actually look at the switch/button before you use it. ;)



RetiredWeasel wrote:
Not trying to offend anybody but hard to deny that many pilots on long haul, can find a switch on the overhead to focus on while his eyelids slowly come to the close position. ...at least in the old days.


The so-called "extended overhead panel scan".
 
N415XJ
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Sun Aug 22, 2021 2:40 am

I'm definitely not an ATP, but from what I understand the MD-80 (and probably DC-9) cockpit is absolutely bonkers. Switches and knobs and such seemingly laid out at complete random, like some external light switches being nowhere near the other light switches. It even has a mirror on the glareshield so the pilots can see the magnetic compass installed behind them (which, of course, is printed in reverse to be readable with a mirror). I'd really like to sit down with those who designed the cockpit, I'm sure there's an interesting story behind it.

Here's a video detailing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R0CViDUBFs
 
r6russian
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Sun Aug 22, 2021 3:03 am

737 overhead is an absolute disaster. End result of airlines mandating the same type rating despite 40+ years of advancements in technology. Hell, i think the only things that are different between the jurassic and max on the overhead is replacing electrical steam gauges with a display, and the bezel under ground power switch thats obvously meant to have 2 round gauges instead of nothing, and they didnt even care to update the bezel when they removed the 2 steam gauges.

a320 overhead on the other hand is absolutely fantastic. clean, logical, easy to use. Typical smart european design, unlike the bullshit you get on old american designs
 
Woodreau
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Sun Aug 22, 2021 4:03 am

The Embarer 145 overhead design is so bad. All of the switches tactilely feel exactly the same. To the point Embraer had to install guards on the engine master switches to keep pilots from turning off the engines inflight when they meant to turn off the APU.



Embraer are also the only aircraft manufacturer to arrange their Flight Control panel opposite to Boeing, Airbus, MDD, Canadair. Embraer arranged their knob - heading, speed, altitude. Every other aircraft manufacturer arranged it - speed, heading, altitude - to match what you see on your PFD - airspeed tape on the left, heading indicator in the middle, and altitude tape on the left. so you can tell who flew an Embraer as their first commercial jet when they sometimes grab the wrong knob to change heading - and they grab the airspeed knob by mistake.
 
Max Q
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Re: Kudos & Gripes: What do pilots think about the design of overhead panels on their aircraft?

Sun Aug 22, 2021 6:41 am

N415XJ wrote:
I'm definitely not an ATP, but from what I understand the MD-80 (and probably DC-9) cockpit is absolutely bonkers. Switches and knobs and such seemingly laid out at complete random, like some external light switches being nowhere near the other light switches. It even has a mirror on the glareshield so the pilots can see the magnetic compass installed behind them (which, of course, is printed in reverse to be readable with a mirror). I'd really like to sit down with those who designed the cockpit, I'm sure there's an interesting story behind it.

Here's a video detailing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R0CViDUBFs



Agree with this, the -80 cockpit defied logic, I think it had the same design philosophy as the DC3

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