As per my understanding, most of the Gyros in big jets are electric driven but I am not sure if the smaller planes also have the electric driven or vacuum/pressure driven Gyros?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ These days aircraft use solid state gyroscopes or occasionally laser gyroscopes. They are cheaper and more reliable. The downside is that they only work as rate gyros, so a computer is needed to integrate the orientation, but that has advantage that it does not have problems with tumbling (though depending on how the calculation is done, some may still loose precision near vertical). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    May 19, 2015 at 5:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Hudec, you should put that as an answer. Related answer $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    May 19, 2015 at 8:28
  • $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima: Real answer should say whether bleed air is or was used to drive gyros, somewhere, which I don't know. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    May 19, 2015 at 9:29
  • $\begingroup$ The question is not too precise. Are you asking if vacuum gyros exist, or maybe are, or even have been equipped in an aircraft? Answer to all of those would be yes. Smaller planes? Smaller than commercial jets, regional turboprops, 20-seaters, 2 seaters? $\endgroup$
    – Sami
    May 19, 2015 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ now why did this question make me think of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyro_%28food%29 :) Maybe I shouldn't read this site while hungry... $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Jul 7, 2015 at 5:40

2 Answers 2


Yes small planes have electric gyros as well. It can be as sophisticated as Garmin 1000 in Cessna 172 or Russian made electric artificial horizon gyro powered by accumulator in a glider Blanik L13. I heard battery didn't last very long though:) Also all turn rate indicators have gyros and the ones I saw were electric powered. This ensures that you can still survive if a vacuum pump fails. Turn indicators used in the eastern block made gliders are powered by simple 4.5V battery.


Many planes are being/have been retrofitted with glass panels that use attitude heading reference system (AHRS) in place of vacuum driven gyros, with 4-hour or more battery backup in case the plane's electric system goes down. Examples are the Garmin 1000 as mentioned, to something smaller like a pair of G5s or a G500. https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/pn/K10-00280-00 https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/pn/TXi-0G500-03 https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/pn/010-G1000-00


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