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Video - Aircraft cockpit: what are all those buttons for?

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What strikes you when you enter the cockpit are all these buttons. They are everywhere, even the ceiling, but what are they be used for? To find out we took a seat in the A380 simulator with a seasoned test pilot as guide.

Jean-Michel Roy, Airbus Test Pilot : interview in the video.

And in this "communal environment", we find not only the throttle but also the voice or text communication system. On the central panel, are also the navigation systems; calculators, called Flight Management System (FMS), whose function is to optimize the lateral and vertical flight plans of the aircraft, which are presented on the navigation screen, and monitored and controlled from there via the keyboard. As for the ceiling panel, shared equally by the pilot and co-pilot, it serves to monitor and control a multitude of other systems that were originally the responsibility of the navigator-engineer.

Jean-Michel Roy, Airbus Test Pilot : interview in the video.

In terms of piloting, strictly speaking, when it’s on manual: the pilot uses this mini-joystick (side stick controller); when on automatic: from this central panel, where the course, speed and altitude may be defined for a short-period. The pilot has a main screen and sometimes also a 'head-up display' to visualise this information. As for the layout of these instruments, it’s not done willy-nilly. In a cockpit, the buttons are placed according to their frequency of use. So, there you are, cockpits have almost no more secrets for you.

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