I once had this dream actually, a nightmare - I was flying my Cessna 152 over Florida Keys enjoying both the flight and the views when all of a sudden, I saw there were no engine monitors or gauges in the cockpit. My panic was so acute that I woke up with my heart pounding and then thanked my stars it was only a nightmare.
Those of us who are used to flying with data monitors, GPS and a handful of gauges, know how much we depend on them to know not just the health status of the aircraft but also our current geographic location, height etc.
I remember that in comic books as well as WWII films pilots would know something was wrong just by listening to the difference in engine sound. But any pilot will tell you that engine sound changes after something has happened which basically means the pilot has to enter into a fire-fighting mode and its all guess work from there based on how the aircraft is handling.
A newly qualified pilot wouldn’t know what the heck was happening - whether an engine was being starved of fuel or cylinders are over-heating, or whether the aircraft was about to suffer a catastrophic failure of some sort.
While experience counts and an experience pilot will probably make a reasonably good guesstimate as to where the problem is, it would still be a guess. But throw in a handful of gauges and the whole situation changes. Throw in an engine data monitor (EDM) and bingo, you know exactly where the problem is and more importantly, how acute it is and how to react to it.
With availability of aircraft engine data, blind panic gives way to determined calmness – as a pilot, you now know what exactly it is that is wrong and what to do to bring the aircraft safely down to earth – preferably in one piece.
An engine may belong to a truck or aircraft engine or a simple water pump. Every engine has a set of manufacture determined parameters within which it has to operate. Any deviation could lead to a catastrophic failure of the engine. On the ground you can simply switch off the engine but a pilot in the air, does not have that luxury.
Manufacturers such as J.P. Instruments of USA, not only make aircraft engine monitors and quality Aircraft Gauge, they also have also included artificial intelligence into the display units to warn the pilot(s); if any engine parameter is not in conformity of its safe operating limits. A potential problem therefore, comes to light much before it becomes serious. The aircraft engine monitor keeps your engine healthy, efficient and safe.
Also, these days the Aircraft Single Engine Monitors Systems have built-in memory slots. At end of each trip you just pop out the memory card and hand it over to your mechanic who in turn will plug it into his diagnostic unit and generate a detailed analysis of the flight and aircraft engine performance. Any problem areas are instantly identified and passed on the repair crew. This way you also have a valuable history of the aircraft’s engine performance. The keeps your engine healthy, efficient and safe.
I hope my dream never becomes a reality either to me or to any other pilot. Fly safe, enjoy life.
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