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Electronic Flight Instrument System | Overview

EFIS

An electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) is an electronic display technology on the flight deck display system. It usually consists of Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS), Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multi-Function Display (MFD) display. They commonly use a liquid crystal display (LCD) even though they earlier used cathode ray tube (CRT) displays.

Installation of the EFIS varies greatly this is where a wide-body aircraft is equipped with six or more display units on which flight and navigation data are displayed while a light aircraft is likely to have one unit.

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The installation of EFIS follows the sequence:
• Displays
• Controls
• Data processors

Basic EFIS contains all the facilities in one unit.

Display Units

• Primary flight display (PFD)
• Navigation display (ND)/Multi-function display (MFD)
• Electronic centralized aircraft monitoring (ECAM)/Engine indications and crew alerting system (EICAS)

Control Panels

There is the provision of controls to the pilots where they select the display mode and range (for instance, compass rose or maps) and key in data (like a certain heading).

The pilots only need to enter the selection once, and the data busses broadcast the inputs for use by other equipment. For instance, the pilot makes a selection of the preferred level-off altitude on the control unit. The EFIS repeats the altitude selected on the Primary flight display (PFD), and it generates an altitude error display by comparing it with the actual altitude. The altitude selection is also used by altitude alerting system to deliver appropriate warnings, and by automatic flight control system for leveling off.

Data Processors

The symbol generator also known as display processing computer or display electronics unit, produces the visual display in the EFIS. It receives data inputs from the pilot and the EFIS format selections made, and signals from sensors. This generator does not only generate symbols but also has the monitoring facilities, a display driver (hardware not software) and a graphics generator. The input arrives through data buses, and are verified. The computations required are performed, and the display driver and graphics generator produce the entries to the display units.

Monitoring in EFIS Like ordinary the computers, the flight instrument systems require a continuous self-monitoring and power-on-self-test facilities. The systems, however, requires additional monitoring competencies like:
Input validation — validate each data from the sensor.
Data comparison — verify the inputs from the duplicated sensors
Display monitoring — identify instrument system failures

Former display Practice (electromechanical)

The electromechanical displays are fitted out with synchro mechanisms which transmitted, to the pitch, an instrument comparator, roll and heading which is shown on the First Officer’s and Captain’s instruments. The comparator notified the excessive differences between the two displays (Captain and First Officer). Even an error like far downstream (referring to the data flow direction; from the sensor to the processor, to display), the roll system triggers a warning in the comparator. The instrument comparator is, therefore, providing both display monitoring and comparator monitoring making a huge difference in the EFIS.

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Comparator Monitoring

The comparator task in the electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) is to give warnings for airspeeds, roll, pitch, and altitude indications. It checks if the roll data from sensor 1 is the same as the roll data from sensor 2 where if not, it puts a warning caption on both PFDs. With advanced EFIS systems, more comparator monitors are enabled.

Display Monitoring

An EFIS display lets no easy re-transmission of what is shown. This requires a new approach to the display monitoring that gives safety equal to that of a traditional system. One solution is keeping the display system simple, such that the errors are minimal as possible where the unit will either works or not work. The errors should always be obvious and not insidious. Now monitoring function can be moved upstream to the symbol generator output.

In this system, each generated symbol has two display monitoring channels. The internal channel, from its symbol generator, samples the output to the computer and display unit, for instance, what roll attitude produces the indication. The computed roll attitude is at that point compared with the input of the roll attitude to the symbol generator from the AHRS (Attitude and Heading Reference System) or INS. Any difference is most likely led by error processing and initiates a warning on display.

The same check carried out by the deck external monitoring channel on the symbol generator on the flight’s other side: the symbol generator of the Captain checks the First Officer’s symbol generator, the First Officer’s inspects the Captain’s. If any symbol generator notices a fault, it puts up an alert on its display.
The external monitoring channel also checks the sensor inputs to the symbol generator for reasonableness. A false input, like a radio height more than the radio altimeter’s maximum, fallouts in a warning.

User waypoints

The EFIS allows you to save up to 40 user waypoints. You can further delete, modify and save user waypoints.

To add, modify or delete user waypoints press button [ III ] on the flight information or navigation screen. Select “User waypoints” item in the displayed menu, then user waypoints screen will open for editing.

how to add a user waypoint

User waypoints editing screen has a list of current waypoints and “Add new” command at the end of the list. To select a line from the list rotate the ENCODER. Press the ENCODER to open a context menu when a waypoint is selected. Select a command and press the ENCODER to perform it.

To add a new waypoint select “Add new” command on the user waypoint editing screen. Then the new waypoint editing screen will open. Enter coordinates of a new waypoint, its index and name. To save a waypoint select “Save and exit” command. To cancel waypoint creation press button [ III ].

how to add a waypoint with keyboard

Index for a new waypoint will be automatically added in the following format:

UP##

Where ## is the first free number from 01 to 99, and coordinates are set equal to the current aircraft position in space.

To edit waypoint parameters you can use the onscreen keyboard as described in “Keyboard data entry”.

To modify existing waypoint select it from the waypoint list and press the ENCODER to open a context menu. Then select “Modify” item in context menu. Waypoint editing screen will be displayed then. Make required corrections and select “Save and exit” command. To cancel waypoint correction press button [ III ].

To delete existing waypoint select it from the waypoint list and press the ENCODER to open a context menu. In the context menu, select “Delete” item.

Tachometer

At the low right of the display, the engine speed indicator is displayed combined with the rotor speed indicator or intake manifold pressure indicator depending on the settings.

Glance EFIS tachometer indicator

For a helicopter, the engine speed indicator displays engine rpm and rotor speed.

Glance EFIS hobbs indicator

For an aircraft and a flex-wing trike the engine speed indicator displays the following:

  • if external EMS unit is used and intake manifold pressure port is configured, the engine speed indicator displays engine rpm and intake manifold pressure;
  • if internal EMS unit is used or intake manifold pressure port is not configured, the engine speed indicator displays only engine rpm;
  • if engine rpm is equal to 0, the engine speed indicator displays engine operation counter in hours for a double indicator and in hours and minutes for a single indicator.
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