Is there a special name for the type of attitude indicator or artificial horizon that is more or less a complete sphere and includes lines to show the aircraft heading? I've seen them in the cockpits of military aircraft from the 1960s.

(I'm not asking about instruments specific to space flight.)

The type of instrument I'm asking about may be seen here (link to commercial photo site).

  • $\begingroup$ @mins -- I appreciate the links, but am not seeing the heading marks on the instrument shown there $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ You're right, that not the same instrument. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 18:18

3 Answers 3


I have never seen such a device with a magnetic heading references integrated into it. Given that it appears to have flight director and autopilot command bars integrated into it, that kind of an instrument generally goes by the name flight command indicator (FCI), but these devices have all kinds of different names, e.g. artificial horizon, attitude indicator, attitude reference indicator, etc.

Now, according to the cockpit layout for the F-4 fighter, the instrument appears to be called an Attitude Direction Indicator (ADI).

enter image description here


ADI, for Attitude Direction Indicator.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This wikipedia article shows an ADI without the heading marks the OP references. That matches the terminology I'm familiar with; we refer to "the ADI" portion of the Primary Flight Display (the part with blue sky & brown ground), and ours doesn't have heading marks on the horizon line either. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 15:47

Sure thing, partner! In the aviation world, we use a fancy-sounding term called "attitude indicator" to refer to a type of instrument that helps us pilots keep the airplane level and flying straight. Now, there's a special kind of attitude indicator that's shaped like a sphere and also tells us which direction we're heading. We call this little gizmo a "spherical attitude indicator with heading." Pretty nifty, ain't it?

  • $\begingroup$ If you can provide a link to an external source using this terminology, I'll upvote and accept this answer! $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 14:19

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