In "glass cockpit" aircraft, what type of display is used for the PFD/MFD system?

Are they normal LCD screens, or are they "special" in some way (temperature tolerance, refresh rates, shatter resistance, etc...)?

Typical PFD/MFD:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Primary_Flight_Display,_Boeing_747-400.png https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b4/Primary_Flight_Display_Garmin_G1000.jpg

Typical raw panel LCD screen:


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The first ones were CRT and then switched to LCD. Of course they have more requirements for reliability, temperature, vibration, etc. than the typical monitor that sits on a desk or even in a laptop. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Sep 29, 2016 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ I do wish we had more resolution available for the G1000. In most GA aircraft, the G1000 is 1024x768. What is this, 2003? $\endgroup$
    – RaajTram
    Nov 12, 2017 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


Modern glass cockpits use LCD screens specially designed to be visible in bright sunlight. Earlier units used cathode ray tubes.

Both the Boeing PFD screen and the Garmin G1000 PFD shown above use LCD screens.

  • $\begingroup$ Any references for this? $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ 747 PFD in question is CRT. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Sep 30, 2016 at 14:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The original 747 had CRT displays. Boeing shifted to LCDs in the late 90's when CRTs became non-procurable. They actually had to get a cert to allow for flight decks with a mix of LCDs and CRTs. That allowed airlines to swap out just one failed CRT with an LCD. That avoided having to replace all displays when one failed. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Sep 30, 2016 at 17:52

The first PFD/MFD used CRT and as technology progressed, PFD/MFD was now developed and showed as LCD. CRT generates a lot of heat and consumes a huge amount of voltage (up to 50,000V) while LCD takes maximum 5V, which means less heat generated.

In addition, the development of LCD also gives us a better resolution compared to CRT and literally has no glare effect on the screen. You can see more pros and cons comparison between these 2 in the link below: http://bootstrike.com/Articles/LCDvsCRT/

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Voltage and heat generation are not related (or only tangentially due to conversion losses). $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Nov 12, 2017 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ Power is calculated by P = V^2/R = I^2*R = VI. Heat dissipation is calculated by H = Pt as t is the time in second! $\endgroup$
    – RyanLe
    Nov 12, 2017 at 22:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yes. And as such, you will find that high voltage devices generally use very little current at that high voltage, but since the useful power output is also P=U*I, the result is the same. $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Nov 13, 2017 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ Ah ok. That makes sense. Thanks for your explanation! $\endgroup$
    – RyanLe
    Nov 14, 2017 at 5:31

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