Glass Panels Vs. Steam Panels

This is perhaps one of the most debated upon topics in general aviation. In the early years of aviation, all the pilots could use to learn to fly is a steam panel. However, advances in aviation technology have led to the development of a whole new type of trainer aircraft: the glass panel aircraft. If you're still on the planning stage of your flight lessons, you would certainly touch upon this subject. Which one should you use to learn how to fly an aircraft? Should it be the glass or steam-panel aircraft?

Now, make no mistake about it. Each type of trainer aircraft has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Armed with the right information, however, you can easily make the decision as to which of these two are you going to subscribe to for your flight lessons. To do that, you'd have to first understand the drawbacks and benefits when you use a glass or a steam panel for your flight lessons.

A Steam Panel

A steam-panel trainer aircraft relies solely on old school aircraft instruments that rely on steam systems and rely less on electronics that are otherwise the trademark of the other type of trainer aircraft. You find a lot more of these aircraft than glass-panel aircraft used in flight lessons because they do not charge as much as glass panel aircraft do. There are less electronics to maintain and take care of so obviously it's not as expensive.

The biggest drawback to a steam panel, however, is that certain aspects of flight lessons have to be done manually like the use of an E6B flight computer and the use of paper maps to know the diagram of the destination airport. You could say learning to fly using a steam-panel could be a bit daunting because of the amount of workload a student has to process.

A Glass Panel

A glass panel, on the other hand, is an electronics-dominated machine. The G1000 trainer, for example, is an example of a glass-panel installed in a trainer aircraft. Learning using this type of trainer could be a bit faster than when you use steam panels, since the onboard computer does much of the work for you. You can access almost all information with the press of a button, as long as the memory cards are updated.

However, a glass-panel trainer can be expensive to own or even to rent because of high maintenance costs aside from the rental and fuel fees. Aside from that, student pilots might end up relying more on the computer and learn less about the manual tools used in aviation like the flight computer.