Back in 2020, I performed a massive upgrade to the instrument panel for the QQ glider. The main reasons for this huge upgrade included:
Installing a transponder, so that Air Traffic Control can easily see my glider and route airliners around me. A transponder is a small radio transmitter that sends out radio signals that Air Traffic Control (ATC) can interpret. The modern transponders are programmed with a unique signal identifying the aircraft. They also have a small altimeter on-board, so they report altitude information, too. Any aircraft flying into the busy airspace around big airports need to be equipped with a new style of equipment that compliments the transponder, called ADS-B. The ADS-B signal sends GPS information along with the transponder signal. In addition to sending location information, ADS-B is also rebroadcast by radio towers installed at choice locations.
What this means to you: as a regular person, you can now get a great view about where all of the airliners and general aviation aircraft are at any time. You can pull up a website called FlightAware.com to see details about those planes flying over your house. Here's the FlightAware.com screenshot from my house here on a Thursday night:
|Green line shows ground track, as recorded from FlightAware.com|
New Flight Computer
The whole panel was redone to make room for this huge screen. The screen is much more easily read than the older flight computer that it replaced. The display is much more easily read, even in the bright sunlight. The flight computer presents a lot more useful information in one view, without having to hunt around for different information on different screens.
Now that I have more screen real estate, I can get information about nearby aircraft. Since other aircraft are also ADS-B equipped, I can see them on the flight display. This is not a substitute for actually looking outside, as there are still many aircraft that do not have an ADS-B installation. When other aircraft are on a collision course, the flight computer gets information from an ADS-B receiver, detects if there's a possible collision course, and displays that information on the screen, along with a robot voice, telling me where to look.
There are times when I'm flying the glider, and the lift has quit. I have the option of landing in a field somewhere. I have come to prefer landing at airports -- there's so much less drama. But if I'm doing an unexpected diversion toward an airport, maybe it would be handy to have that information on-hand when I'm going there. What is the tower frequency? What is the runway length? What sort of facilities can I find? Back in the old days, you would carry a book with you called the "Airport Facilities Directory." If you've ever seen my skinny cockpit, and my non-skinny presence, you'd notice there is a distinct lack of space. Not even much space for a small booklet.
|Airport Facility Directory. Do they even print these anymore?|
That booklet is obsolete every few months, takes up a lot of space. The flight computer stores all that information, and makes its recall really easy.
|LX9070 Airport Information View|
|LX9070 landing checklist with airport schematic|
Back Seat Comfort
Calculating Glider Mass
|LX9070 Weight and Balance|
|Ridge run on a task|