There are a number of buttons in a cockpit that allow a pilot to control and navigate the aircraft with ease. Located in the nose of aircraft, these buttons are responsible for the various actions that pilots are able to use during takeoff, flight, and landing. With this in mind, this blog will provide a brief overview of all the buttons, switches, and levers found in the flight deck , allowing you to better understand their importance.
Autopilot Disconnect Button
Used just once during flight, an autopilot disconnect button is responsible for controlling autopilot functions on aircraft. By pressing the autopilot disconnect button on the control column, the pilot is tasked with maintaining the wings leveled for the remainder of the flight.
Passenger Oxygen Switch
When you are a passenger on an aircraft, you rarely notice the features that provide a comfortable flight. One of those features is a passenger oxygen switch, which functions by keeping the harsh atmospheric conditions just outside a passenger window from making its way in.
By pressing the passenger oxygen switch, pilots are able to protect passengers from such instances, including dropping masks from the panels above passenger seats which serve to aid passengers during an impending lack of oxygen.
Located in the center panel for ease of reach, pilots pull the gear lever outwards and up in position. By shifting the gear lever , the landing gear bay doors will open, the wheels will retract into the bays, and the doors will subsequently close up again. When landing, this series of mechanisms are carried out in reverse.
Evacuation Command Switch
Only used in the case that an emergency evacuation is required, upon flipping the evacuation command switch , the flight crew can work through an emergency evacuation checklist. Some of the protocols include depressurizing the aircraft, shutting down the engines, and safely escorting passengers onto the ground.
Push-To-Talk (PTT) Switch
The PTT switch allows pilots to keep contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) centers on the ground, further allowing pilots to maintain a safe distance from other aircraft. When talking to an Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO), you must push and hold the PTT switch as you are not the only aircraft communicating to a particular center.
Just in front of the thrust levers, the Takeoff/Go-Around (TOGA) buttons perform different tasks at varying stages of flight. During takeoff, pressing one of the TOGA buttons engages the autothrottle, drives the thrust levers forward, and demands the necessary engine power needed for takeoff. When airborne, if an engine failure occurs, one engine will remain on a reduced thrust setting. By pressing a TOGA button, you can increase the engine to a full power setting.
When landing, if the runway is blocked, it is too windy, or the pilot is not satisfied with landing, the pilot can attempt the “go-around” method. It requires a substantial amount of engine power and necessitates the Flight Management Computer (FMC) to change the route to accommodate a go-around path; pressing the TOGA button kickstarts both processes.
Altitude Selector Dial
Altitude selector dials control the altitude at which you want the aircraft to fly. When a specific altitude is selected, the number appears on both the altitude window and Primary Flight Display (PFD). As the aircraft reaches the desired altitude, a magenta colored light appears around the selected value, indicating that the pilot needs to level off.
Engine Fire Handle
Found on the center pedestal below the thrust levers, the engine fire handle can be considered one of the controls within a cockpit that you hope never need to be used. Used to indicate an engine fire, this control is tasked with setting off a series of signals on the flight deck. Additionally, it prepares the fire extinguishers for discharge by turning the engine fire handle to the left or right.
Seatbelt Sign Switch
One of the most used controls in the cockpit is the seatbelt sign switch. As keeping passengers and flight crew safe is of the utmost importance, the seatbelt sign switch is typically illuminated for safety reasons. During situations where turbulence can knock passengers off their feet, you will find that the seatbelt sign will light up. Located above the overhead panel, the switch creates a chime, alerting all passengers and crew on-board to take their seats.
Typically engaged once airborne, the autopilot follows the route on the FMC. Contrary to popular belief, the pilot does not just sit back and relax. The pilot has to ensure that the aircraft follows its intended path.
It is clear that aircraft have many controls, switches, levers, and handles. As it is important to ensure their optimal functionality, one must check that all parts of the aircraft are in perfect condition, including the fuselage, wings, landing gear, and more.
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