Has anyone come across any academic study on the effects of information provided by "glass" instrumentation that affects, favorably or unfavorably, situational awareness, skill and performance, and decision making?

Related question: Where does the term 'steam cockpit' come from?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ On a related note, if you want to fly for a career, I suggest to everyone that asks me about it that they learn with steam gauges. Chances are your first non-cfi job will be steam or EFIS and not full glass. If you've never flown steam it'll be brutal. Glass is easy, the big schools are doing their students a disservice by having all glass fleets. $\endgroup$
    – Khantahr
    Feb 10, 2014 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Ralgha Isn't EFIS considered glass?? (I agree with learning with steam gauges!) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Feb 11, 2014 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ It's a hybrid glass/steam arrangement. Glass for the ADI and HSI, everything else steam (it can vary though). Basically first generation glass, it's similar enough in layout to steam that you can pretty much switch between the two without thinking about it. $\endgroup$
    – Khantahr
    Feb 11, 2014 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ Before anyone asks a new question: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/3577/… $\endgroup$
    – RoboKaren
    Mar 8, 2015 at 3:09

1 Answer 1


The FAA released a 70 page report back in 2003 titled General Aviation Technically Advanced Aircraft FAA – Industry Safety Study which basically says that the overall accident rate of the two types of airplanes are almost the same.

They found that the "available safety" of Technically Advanced Aircraft (TAA) is greater than non-TAA aircraft, however in emergency situations pilots often were not aware of the resources available. To offset this, they recommend (among other things) more training for pilots before flying TAA's so that they actually have the safety related aspects available to them.

Here were their official findings:

Team Findings:

  1. The safety problems found in the accidents studied by the Team are typical of problems that occurred after previous introductions of new aircraft technology and all also reflect typical GA pilot judgment errors found in analysis of non-TAA accidents

  2. Previous safety problems similar to those identified in this Study have been remedied through a combination of improved training and, in the case of new aircraft capabilities, pilot screening (i.e., additional insurance company requirements of pilot experience).

  3. The predominant TAA-system-specific finding is that the steps required to call up information and program an approach in IFR-certified GPS navigators are numerous, and during high workload situations they can distract from the primary pilot duty of flying the aircraft. MFDs in the accident aircraft did not appear to present a complexity problem. The Team also believes that PFDs, while not installed in any of the accident aircraft and just now becoming available in TAAs, similarly are not likely to present a complexity problem.

  4. TAAs provide increased “available safety”, i.e., a potential for increased safety. However, to actually obtain this available safety, pilots must receive additional training in the specific TAA systems in their aircraft that will enable them to exploit the opportunities and operate within the limitations inherent in their TAA systems.

  5. The template for securing this increased safety exists from the experiences with previous new technology introductions –the current aircraft model-specific training and insurance requirements applicable to high-performance single and multi engine small airplanes. However, the existing training infrastructure currently is not able to provide the needed training in TAAs.

  6. Effective and feasible interventions have been identified, mostly recommending improvements in training, and effective implementation mechanisms for the recommended interventions exist. Therefore, TAA safety problems can be addressed, and the additional available safety of TAAs to address traditional causes of GA accidents can be realized as well.

APOA has a nice summary here.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that TAA != glass cockpit. A Technologically Advanced Aircraft must have: 1) an autopilot 2) an IFR GPS 3) an MFD that can display a map. The definition doesn't include anything related to glass instruments, unfortunately, which makes research hard. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Feb 11, 2014 at 16:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.