The attitude indicator within an aircraft is an important instrument for flight, allowing for the pilot to remain aware of the aircraft’s orientation in relation to Earth’s horizon. Conveying rotation about the longitudinal axis and lateral axis for indicating the degree of banks and pitches respectively, attitude indicators ensure safety and the ability to maintain a set flight path. The attitude indicator relies on the rigidity characteristics of its attitude gyro, that of which is gimballed for the means of allowing rotation along lateral and longitudinal axes. Once powered, the indicator will maintain a fixed position for use.
There are a few elements that are common to all attitude indicators, those of which include miniature wings attached to the case, the horizon bar, and the degree marks that encircle the dial. The wings on the case are parallel to the wings of the aircraft itself, ensuring a visual for the pilot to follow. The horizon bar is also important for readings, mimicking the relationship of the aircraft in relation to the actual horizon outside of the vehicle. Lastly, the markings encompassing the dial are used to present degrees, coming in the form of 10, 60, and 90 degree bank marks. With the use of an adjustment knob, the aircraft wings on the dial may be moved to match the horizon bar.
A majority of attitude indicators are vacuum driven, and a rotor within the housing will spin along a horizontal plane about the vertical axis. The housing itself, meanwhile, pivots on the lateral axis with the use of a gimbal, the gimbal pivoting on the longitudinal axis. For mounting the instrument, the instrument case serves as the third gimbal. The horizon bar of the attitude indicator is attached to the gyro with the use of a lever, pivot, and guide pin. In order for the horizon bar to remain parallel with the natural horizon, gyroscopic rigidity is relied on. As the aircraft pitches or banks, the gyroscope assembly will move the miniature aircraft within the instrument case in a similar fashion.
With the assembly filter, air is sucked in and directed through passages present in the rear pivot and inner gimbal ring. Once air reaches the housing, it is directed against rotor vanes, passing through equally spaced ports of the housing before being sucked out into a vacuum pump or venturi tube. If the rotor is displaced from its horizontal plane due to force, the chamber will adjust the alignment as an erecting device.
Due to the design and functionality of attitude gyros, there are a number of issues that can cause errors in readings. Often, these come down to unbalanced elements, clogged filters, malfunctioning pumps, adjusted valves, or general wear and tear. As such, it is important that attitude indicators are regularly inspected and maintained so that their provided readings are as accurate as possible. While aging and wear can cause deviations in readings, steep turns and skidding may also have an effect. If you find yourself in need of various attitude gyro instruments or components, there is no better alternative to AOG Unlimited.
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