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This Detailed Look at Every Button in a Plane's Cockpit Will Make You Appreciate Pilots Even More

Airports + Flying
by Olivia Harden Aug 21, 2022

If you’re a frequent flyer, you may have caught a glance at the cockpit as you board or deplane. The whole thing looks intimidating, with so many lights, buttons, levers, and knobs. It’s no wonder that it takes 1,500 hours of flying to become an airline pilot. Animagraffs, a Youtube creator that makes explainer videos, did a deep dive into every detail of a flight deck.

The flight deck seats have a five-strap harness, and the seat and armrests move in several different directions. From the outside armrest, pilots have their sidestick, which looks like the gearshift on a car, that has autopilot and intercom controls for the pilot to make announcements over the loudspeaker. For steering, pilots use tablets, overhead displays, a tiller, and rudder pedals to navigate and keep the plane in the upright position and brake.

The control panels are made up of the left inboard module, right inboard module, and lights overhead module, which have warning lights kind of like when your check engine light is on — except, in this case, the plane is equipped with tools to fix itself, like fire extinguishers in case of a fire. The glare shield gives the pilot ample information about what’s going on, like the status of fuel systems, radars, and terrain information. It has a nonverbal way of communicating with air traffic controllers. The landing gear level has automated braking systems that can be overridden if necessary.

It’s a lot of information to take in, to say the least. But with America in the middle of a severe pilot shortage, people know know how to operate a commercial plane are needed now more than ever.

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