What is a Cockpit?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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A cockpit, which is also sometimes referred to as a flight deck is an area located in the front of an aircraft from which the pilot controls the movements of the aircraft. Inside the cockpit, there is a panel of instruments and controls that are used to take off, land, and control the progress of the flight. The size of a cockpit is usually directly related to the size of an aircraft as a whole. In many cases, the cockpit is closed off from the rest of the aircraft and is only accessed by the pilot and a co-pilot or flight crew members.

The controls and instruments in a cockpit depend on the aircraft model and size. In airplanes that are large enough to have a pilot and a co-pilot, there are usually duplicates of some of the controls and instruments with a set that is accessible from each of their seats. This allows the pilot or the co-pilot to be able to control the plane as needed during take off, during landing, and while in flight.


The various systems that are incorporated into the control panel in a cockpit include instruments that are used to direct the path of the aircraft, as well as instruments that are used to monitor various parts of the aircraft. Engine-monitoring instruments reflect information regarding the engine's functions such as the cylinder temperature, the exhaust gas temperature, the oil pressure, and the oil temperature. There are also instruments that are used to relay warning messages in the event of a problem with one of the parts of the plane.

In addition to the controls and instruments that are used to manage the movements of an aircraft, there are also instruments that are used to stay in touch with agencies that are overseeing or controlling air traffic. As these instruments are crucial to the safe and successful takeoff, flight, and landing of a plane, there are often two radio sets, even in rather small aircraft, in case one of them fails. On commercial airplanes, there is often a public announcement system that allows the pilot or co-pilot to report flight information. These kinds of planes are also sometimes outfitted with communication systems that allow the pilot to communicate directly with members of the flight crew.


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