What Is a Flight Director?

As aircraft technology has continued to advance over the years, pilots have been provided an increased amount of tools to better ensure safe and efficient flight operations. In order for pilots to easily manage flight trajectories while taking various flight conditions and instrument readings into consideration, a system known as the flight director is commonly used. The flight director system comprises a variety of electronic components that enable a set flight condition to be followed with the computation of various operational conditions. With their capabilities, pilots are relieved of having to carry out various metal calculations related to interception angles, climb and descent rates, wind drift correction, and more.

Flight directors are often comparable to the autopilot system, albeit lacking servos. Like the autopilot system, the flight director carries out various sensing and computational operations, allowing it to carry out maneuvers and commands based on such information and preselected flight conditions. Flight directors are often a part of an aircraft’s autopilot system, though may also be found on models lacking such technology. Additionally, aircraft with autopilot systems and flight directors will often provide the ability to engage and disengage the flight director display as desired.

The information that is obtained by the flight directly will regularly be provided on the instrument where the aircraft attitude is displayed within the cockpit, utilizing a visual reference technique to convey data. On a positioned command bar, a symbol representing the aircraft will be provided with the proper location for a particular maneuver to be carried out. The aircraft symbol and command bar may vary by manufacturer, though the use of such displays almost always serve to direct a pilot in flying their aircraft in the correct location through the use of the command bar.

Depending on the aircraft and its included equipment, flight director data may be displayed on a device known as a flight director indicator (FDI), attitude director indicator (ADI), or electronic attitude director indicator (EADI). In some instances, the device may also be called an artificial horizon with a flight director. Generally, such devices will provide users with a display element alongside sensing elements, a computer, and interface panel.

While a standard attitude indicator is already useful for flying, the addition of flight director system capabilities allows for the pilot to easily carry out maneuvers as necessary to maintain an intended course. Utilizing VOR functionality, the flight director computer can link with the omniranger receiver. This will allow for the flight director to display the bank attitudes required for various courses, and wind drift and intercept angles are calculated automatically.

Across aircraft, flight director systems may differ in their features and complexity, some being capable of altitude hold and select, pitch hold, and various other abilities. Generally, they are most important for carrying out the instrument approach phase of flight, using the ILS localizer and glideslope signals to generate command indications. As such, the pilot can touchdown on a runway with an optimal approach path much safer and easier.

Just like many other aircraft systems and instruments, flight directors require regular maintenance and part replacement to remain functional and airworthy over time. Paragon Purchasing is a premier supplier of aviation, NSN, and electronic parts, and we are your sourcing solution for top quality items that have been sourced from leading global manufacturers. Take the time to explore our offerings as you see fit, and our team is always ready to assist customers through the purchasing process as necessary. If you have any questions regarding our services and would like to speak with a representative, give us a call or email at your earliest convenience and we would be more than happy to assist however we can!


November 20, 2023

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