Multifunction display

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Multifunction displays were first used in the military aviation sector. The advantage was the concentrated collection of information and the display of different screen pages for different tasks on just one screen. In this way, the time that a pilot had to concentrate on aeronautically irrelevant things was reduced and more space was created in the cockpit by eliminating other instruments. The development was accelerated by the trend towards the two-man cockpit that began in the mid-1980s, in which the previous third man was no longer in the position of flight engineer. In the further course of development, the idea of ​​a multifunction display also led to the development of the head-up display and its use in commercial aircraft, which enabled the principle of targeted display of information in the pilot's field of vision.

Nowadays, no modern airliner is delivered without one or more multifunction displays.

Function and task

MFDs in the cockpit of an Airbus 319

The MFDs built into commercial aircraft as standard since the mid-1990s typically have dimensions of around 6 "× 8" (inches). The displays have been LCDs since the late 1990s , replacing the previously common CRTs .

Earlier glass cockpits, as they were installed in the Boeing 737 Classic (except early 737-300), 757, 767, Airbus A300-600 and A310, only displayed the altitude and navigation information, the speed in the air and on the ground was still with traditional instruments displayed (glass cockpit 1). Later glass cockpits, like those found in the Boeing 747-400, 737NG and all newer models from Boeing and Airbus, have all mechanical displays and warning lights integrated in the EFIS (glass cockpit 2).

The primary task of the multifunction display in a commercial aircraft is to show the flight status. In this mode, the MFD takes on the task of the so-called Primary Flight Display (PFD) and essentially shows the pilot an artificial horizon, the current altitude and speed , the rate of climb / descent and the course. In the so-called navigation display (ND) mode , the device shows the pilot a representation of the flight path and the possible overlay of radio beacons , waypoints from the random area navigation or airfields . Many multifunction displays can also show data from the weather radar and the TCAS (if available), i.e. the aircraft in the area on this map display (map mode).

Various environmental and flight parameters can also be displayed. These include: (these data are system-dependent and therefore not the same for every system.)

  • Outside temperature
  • the data from the flight management system such as take-off weight, pre-calculated thrust, center of gravity, etc.
  • Flight time to the destination
  • Speed ​​over ground
  • Amount of fuel when reaching the destination
  • next waypoint and duration up to this one

The primary flight display (PFD) and the navigation display (ND) are virtual devices, that is display modes, while the term multifunction display (MFD) means the actual electronic display device.

In the cockpit of an Airbus A320 z. B. there are a total of six multifunction displays.

  • One MFD each as ND for the master and the chief officer
  • One MFD each as PFD for the master and the chief officer
  • two MFDs in the center console as system, engine and warning displays

Individual evidence

  1. Dave Higdon: Multi-Function Displays in Pilot's Guide to Avionics 2008-09 Edition, (PDF online )