The evolution of aircraft cockpits and crew (30 Pics)

1. Cockpit  of the Antonov An-225. In the old days, aircraft required a crew of 5 or 6 people; 1 pilot, 1 co-pilot, 1 or 2 flight engineers, 1 radio operator, and 1 navigator.

2. These days, most aircraft are crewed by only two people; the pilot and the co-pilot. Apart from some military aircraft (which need the aforementioned extra crew members to perform more sophisticated tasks that are required of them), most aircraft are crewed by just two people, thanks to increased levels of automation. Let's take a look at what replaced the other crew members in the cockpit.

3. The radio operator station on an Avro Lancaster. Radio operators were responsible for handling telegraphic and voice radio communications between the aircraft and ground stations.

4. As radio sets became increasingly sophisticated and easier to operate, the function was taken over directly by the pilots, making the radio operator's position redundant.

5. The Navigator of an aircraft was responsible for the complicated job of calculating the estimated position of an aircraft using a previously determined position, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time and course, and accordingly gives adjustments to the aircraft's autopilot.

6. The navigator was removed due to the advent of the Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) and Mode Control Panels (MCP) (pictured) in commercial aircraft in the mid-1950s. An INS uses a computer, motion sensors and gyroscopes to continuously calculate by the position, the orientation, and the velocity of a moving object, using almost the same calculations used by a navigator, without the need for external references. On the other hand, the MCP contains controls that allow the crew of the aircraft to select which parts of the aircraft's flight are to be controlled automatically. In modern MCPs, there are many different modes of automation available. The MCP can be used to instruct the autopilot to hold a specific altitude, to change altitudes at a specific rate, to hold a specific heading, to turn to a new heading, making navigation much easier.

7. Modern aircraft also have Flight Management Computers (FMC) to aid in navigation. All FMCs contain a navigation database. The navigation database contains the elements from which the flight plan is constructed. The MCP can be set to follow the instructions of the FMC. Pilots can type a waypoint into the FMC, and the aircraft will fly itself to the waypoint.

8. The Flight Engineer was the crew member responsible for engines, systems and fuel management. As aircraft became increasingly sophisticated and automated, this function has been mostly assumed by the pilots, resulting in a continued downsizing in the number of aircrew positions on commercial flights. Flight engineers can still be found in the present day, used on airline, air freight, or military operations still flying old aircraft. The position is typically crewed by a dual-licensed Pilot-Flight Engineer in the present day.

9. Cockpit of a Boeing 767, one of the first large airliners to have a two-crew glass cockpit with digital CRT displays. Starting in the 1980s, the development of powerful and small integrated circuits and other advances in computers and digital technology eliminated the need for flight engineers on airliners and many modern military aircraft.

10. On modern aircraft, sensors and computers monitor and adjust systems automatically. There is no onboard technical expert. If a malfunction occurs, it is displayed on an electronic display panel and the computer automatically initiates corrective action to rectify the condition. One pilot does the flying and the other pilot works on resolving the problem. Now that we know what replaced the crew members, let's take a look at some aircraft that have been in service for so long, that their cockpits had to undergo multiple changes.

11. Boeing 737-200.

12. Boeing 737-200 with glass cockpit upgrade with LCD displays and FMC.

13. Boeing 737-300 Classic with CRT displays and FMC.

14. Boeing 737-800NG with LCD displays.

15. Boeing 737-8 MAX with larger LCD displays.

16. Boeing 747-100 cockpit with analogue instruments and gauges and flight engineer's panel.

17. Boeing 747-300 with CRT displays and FMC as glass cockpit integration.

18. Boeing 747-400 with LCD displays as full glass cockpit integration. Flight engineer has been eliminated.

19. Boeing 767-400ER with LCD displays. Compare this to the 767-300 in #9 with CRT displays.

20 Airbus A300 with original analogue cockpit.

21. Airbus A300 with CRT displays and FMC as glass cockpit upgrade.

22. Lockheed C-130E Hercules. C-130E had a full 5 person cockpit crew (6 including the loadmaster).

23. Lockheed C-130H Hercules with CRT displays as part of the H3 glass cockpit upgrade. Still maintains a 5 person cockpit crew, and a loadmaster.

24. Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules with full glass cockpit integration with LCD displays. Now, it only has a two person crew and a loadmaster.

25. Lockheed C-5A Galaxy.

26. Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy with LCD displays as glass cockpit integration. Regardless of the cockpit, the C-5 requires two flight engineers in addition to the pilots as cockpit crew, and three loadmasters.

27. Ilyushin Il-76MD.

28. Ilyushin Il-76TD-90VD with minor glass cockpit integration.

29. Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A with full glass cockpit integration. The Il-76 still requires a 5 person crew regardless of the cockpit.

30. Boeing B-52H Stratofortress with early cockpit.

31. Boeing B-52H Stratofortress with CRT displays.

32. Boeing B-52H Stratofortress with LCD Multi Function displays.

33. Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

34. Cessna 172 Skyhawk with Garmin G1000 integration.

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