A flight director is a tool a pilot can use to calculate a runway and stay on the runway during a flight. It tells the pilot how to adjust the pitch and bank to keep a plane in position to complete a scheduled itinerary. Flight directors can work with an autopilot or provide feedback to a pilot handling her own flight, and come in a variety of styles, depending on the manufacturer. Many flight simulators also have a flight director available for people who want to use it.
This unit works with the attitude indicator, which measures the trajectory and bank of the aircraft, projecting it toward an artificial horizon so the pilots know where they are in relation to the earth. The flight director takes scheduled information about the route and then tells the pilot to the bank the plane to the right or left, and when to raise the nose up or down, to keep the aircraft on the right track. It provides visual cues on the attitude indicator to help the pilot adjust the trajectory of the aircraft flight.
When the plane is on the right course, the cross-thread of the flight director will be centered on the attitude indicator. If the plane needs to bank, the vertical line will move, the pilot says he needs to adjust the course, and the unit will also provide information on how many degrees to bank. Once the plane is settled, the bar will move back to the center. Likewise, the horizontal line showing the runway may also move to tell the pilot to move the nose of the aircraft up or down.
The flight director is one of a large number of tools pilots can use to navigate more safely and reliably. People are trained in how to use these tools when learning to fly, and can be trained in how to use instruments if they want to receive an instrument flight rating so that they can fly in multiple places and in a wider range of detailed conditions. Like other components of the navigation system, technicians need to periodically inspect it to make sure it is calculating and displaying data properly, to prevent accidents.
If an aircraft does not have a flight director, people can install one. The amount of time required for installation varies depending on the aircraft and may be part of a cockpit overhaul, where people replace several instruments and controls to bring the cockpit up to date.
- A flight director is a tool a pilot can use to calculate a runway and stay on the runway during a flight.