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Flight Training Manual

Essential Information

Aircraft Systems

This page contains a series of links to Internet sources of information on the technical details of aircraft systems and flight instruments. The target audience is those virtual pilots who want to understand the basic technicalities of aircraft, and those who wish to take the VATSIM Pilot Rating Qualifications. These links provide the "Ground School" theory lessons that virtual pilots need, although a general appreciation is required, rather than detailed knowledge. The pages referenced are often only part of an interesting web site, so the opportunity exists, for those who want it, to increase significantly their knowledge of aviation technology.

Each separate section covers a particular topic. Commentary is given in the Description column, on how appropriate the information is to virtual pilots flying computer flight simulators. Presently published exercises may be downloaded by clicking on the blue text for each of the documents shown below. Additional sections are published as required.

Airframe and Engines

An overview of what an aircraft is and what are the essential components of its construction.

The Four Forces of Flight (1.0 14/02/12)
The forces which act on an aircraft which allow it to fly are fully discussed in this comprehensive but not-too-theoretical web site.
How a Wing Creates Lift (1.0 14/02/12)
This website is the best we have found for explaining lift generation. It challenges the misconception found in many textbooks, while making the complex physics easily understandable.
The Empennage (1.0 14/02/12)
The empennage comprises the horizontail "tailplane" and the vertical "tailfin". It plays a vital role in aeroplane stability. In conventional aircraft with a single nose-mounted engine, or an engine mounted on each wing, the "lift" generated by the tailplane acts downwards to counteract the mass of the engine(s).
Generating Thrust - the Propeller (1.0 14/02/12)
The propeller is a wing. This article explains the way propellers work.
Variable Pitch Propellers (1.0 14/02/12)
All aircraft driven by propellers, or "air screws" above a certain general power and weight have the ability to vary the angle of attack of the propeller blade, thus changing its thrust, while turning at constant speed. Hence the modern preference for referring to them as Constant Speed Units (CSU).
Piston Aero Engines (1.0 14/02/12)
This website includes animated diagrams of how piston engines work, including in line, rotary and radial types.
Magneto Ignition (1.0 14/02/12)
Piston engines require a spark to ignite the fuel.  This can be provided by a number of methods, but the magneto has maintained its position throughout aviation history as the most reliable and simplest.
Flaps, Slats and Spoilers (1.0 14/02/12)
At the slower end of the flight envelope, wing slats (if fitted) and flaps can increase the lift available. Flaps can also increase drag which helps prevent the aircraft overspeeding when descending to land,
Trim Tabs and Trimming (1.0 18/02/12)
Balancing the pressure on the control surfaces to neutralise the forces on the control column relieves the pilot of tension and fatigue.  This article explains how trimming works and why it is so vital.
Landing Gear (1.0 19/02/12)
A thorough and well explained treatise on the various types of undercarriage in use and aspects of their design which influence which type is used on which aircraft. Retractable landing gear systems also have an emergency method of operation if the power source fails. As undercarriage failure cannot happen accidentally in Flight Simulator, it is not dealt with in this FS training material.
Lights (1.0 22/02/12)
Aircraft external lighting must conform to international regulations which cover things like brightness, colour, visibility range, angle of visibility etc.

Flight Instruments

Flight instruments provide the pilot with information about the flight situation of that aircraft, such as altitude, speed and direction. The flight instruments are particularly importance in poor visibility or cloud when visual references outside the aircraft are not available. For Flight Simulator, the knowledge of flight instruments does not really need to be as detailed as in real world flight training. Nevertheless, the websites found below contain very accurate and detailed descriptions of the major flight instruments and the way they function.

Flight Instruments (1.0 21/02/12)
This website contains detailed information about each of the following flight instruments:
  • Altimeter
  • Airspeed Indicator
  • Attitude Indicator (Artificial Horizon)
  • Turn and Bank
  • Vertical Speed Indicator
  • Directional Gyro (Direction Indicator)
  • Magnetic Compass
  • Outside Air Temperature

The Pitot/Static System

Pitot/Static System (1.0 14/02/12)
This website covers the theory and practice of using a pitometer to measure airspeed, and atmospheric pressure to determine altitude (altimeter) and change of altitude (Vertical speed indicator).
Pitot Heat (1.0 21/02/12)
In icing conditions the pitot tube can become blocked with ice, leading to serios instrument reading errors. It is modelled in Flight Simulator, so pilots need to know what it is and when to use it.

Engine Instruments

Engine instrumentation is generally referred to in pilot slang as "Tees and Pees" - temperatures and pressures.  Engine instruments are often, but not always, marked with a green "normal operating range" arc and a red "do not exceed" line, which may be a high value such as engine RPM or cylinder head temperature, or a low value such as fuel quantity or oil pressure.

The "Tees" (1.0 21/02/12)
This web page deals with the engine rotational speed, measured by the tachometer, and by which aircfraft performance is established, and the various temperatures which are, or may be recorded.
-and "Pees" (1.0 21/02/12)
This page describes the instruments for recording the various pressures associated with an aircraft engine.