I'm an aviation enthusiast (I do not, nor have I ever worked in the industry), and after researching several various emergencies (reading text documents, reviewing CVR transcripts and watching documentaries and TV shows such as Air Crash Disaster/Mayday), I'm curious as to why so many spatial disorientation situations have resulted in the loss of aircraft.
My thinking is that even if there is zero visibility combined with possible instrument failure causing disorientation, why don't aircraft have a simple glass ball half-filled with water set atop the console?
Wouldn't that provide a crude but reasonably accurate aircraft attitude? I mean:
- water is at the top of the ball (ie. toward the ceiling), plane is inverted
- water is angled toward the left of the ball, plane is banking left (similarly for right)
- water is angled forward, plane is nose down
- water is angled aft, plane is nose up
Even if a/both pilot(s) were fully disoriented due to whatever situation to the point they believe their attitude and other instruments aren't jiving with what their balance is telling them, a quick look at such a simple device would at least indicate a reasonable measure of sanity, wouldn't it?
Now, water might be too viscous a fluid for this, but replace with an oil or similar to minimize movement due to vibration etc.