Seems like the intruments in a non pressurized aircraft have access to the static pressure right where they are. It seems like external ports would be subject to more error being exposed, and lines that can be obstructed.

What benefit is having the external ports?

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    $\begingroup$ Because while it isn't pressurized it's still pretty well sealed. Most alternate static ports on GA aircraft are inside the cabin and have an associated error with them. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jan 17 '17 at 15:37

Remember Bernoulli? Lift is created on the wings because the air pressure decreases as the air moves faster. Same thing around the fuselage, but to a much lower extent. The air flowing around the fuselage creates a low pressure area so air in the cabin moves from inside the cabin to outside causing a lower pressure inside the cabin. Opening the cabin air vents can cause the pressure to be higher inside the cabin than outside.

Many general aviation airplanes that are used for IFR flying have two external ports that are placed well back along the fuselage. The ports are usually positioned in areas where the boundary layer of air tends to be very stable, which lessens the effect of the static ports being hampered by turbulent flow and the Bernoulli effect.

Barry Schiff has an interesting explanation of how the pitot-static system works and shows how the placement of the static ports affects the reading of the instruments.

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer has a nice graph of pressure differences around fuselage which shows there are only two or three suitable locations for the static ports. Might be worth copying here. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jan 17 '17 at 18:52

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