Training: Glass vs Gauge


I think most of us on this forum would or do perfer glass over gauge. However, when training, should you start on gauge only cockpits before going to glass?


My take would be if you never see a gauge plane in your flying career, start with glass, but if on the chance you will be alternating between gauge and glass, then start with gauge and then move up to glass.

From my experiences, learning on gauge first will allow you to learn how to “fly the plane first” rather then program the MFD and PFD AND learn how to fly the plane.



My opinion based on observation.

If you can fly steam gauges the glass will come easy.
If you first learn glass the steam gauges will take some work.


An analogy with learning math.
You learn all the math you want with a calculator (i.e. glass). It will give you the answer but it won’t tell you way. If you learn math manually (i.e. gauges) then you will not only get the answer but know why it is the way it is.


Train with gauges. If you do it that way, you will easily be able to learn on glass. You will learn a lot more starting on gauges rather than glass.


I learned IFR on gauges and transitioned to glass (Avidyne) later. You may have to fly on those gauges someday as your backup if your PFD fails. Learning on gauges forces you to think a lot more about what they are showing you and where you are. Situational awareness is not just handed to you on gauges (GPS aside).

On my current aircraft, you’ll only have backup gauges for airspeed, the little backup artificial horizon, slip skid indicator, and altimeter - plus your magnetic compass. Consider that if you had an electrical fire and had to shut the juice, you’d lose the AI too (as well as GPS) and would really be back to basics.


how did this turn into such a hateful thread?!


Let’s talk about how to train rather than other member’s flight experience. Banter goes in the banter thread.

However you train, be sure to become familiar with both, as there are situations where you’ll want to know each well.


I would say learn the gauges first as that is pure and simple flying. Also I think part of learning to fly is looking outside the plane and not relying on the instruments. The glass does the same thing but they are more demanding of your attention. The vast majority of the fleet is still run on steam gauge. I don’t think I’ve even seen a small GA plane with glass.

Do kids in grade school learn to write and spell anymore or do they just start texting and composing at the keyboard?


Learn to walk before learning to run.


I saw a glass cockpit jet while visiting Cessa last year. At first I thought all the talk was about some fancy “heads up” display for the instruments. Love those - had one on my old Grand Prix GPT. But now I understand it’s about the gauges, not the windshield lol. I’m not a pilot and I would put money on what everyone else says - training with the original gauges has proven to worked well over time. Then upgrade.


While I learned the old fashioned way when I first started flying back in…well a few years ago… It’s very good skills to have. But tomorrow’s airline pilots may never see gyroscopic analog instruments in their career. A lot of flight schools today have the latest and greatest from Avidyne and Garmin in their primary trainers. Nothing wrong with it…it’s just where the technology has brought us, and will continue to take us…


I learned on gauges first than transitioned to glass, but I would argue some benefits to learning on glass. I would suggest trying to incorporate some hours of both. Its much easier to learn and understand complicated navigational concepts with a large MFD and PFD. Tracking radials, To/From VOR’s. GPS waypoints. They are all drawn beautifully and very teach situational awareness. Its only a problem if you become dependent on these technologies then fly low IFR, single pilot at max weight, in the mountains.


Absolutely agree with the above when it comes to the navigation part of flying, though with the last sentence, does one have a choice when it’s all glass to get the oppurtunity to use paper charts and navigate via ground based equipment if something goes belly up? If they go all glass from the get go, other then flight planning, they really don’t need paper enroute charts on board, do they?

Does the plane actually have a NAV1 seperate and apart from the glass infrastructure should the computers “blue screen”?

I have seen the attitude indicator seperate and apart, but I am not even sure I remember seeing if there is a seperate airspeed indicator in my one time flying experience with all glass?



Yes, currently all TAA have a pitot static airspeed and altimeter along with either an electric or vacuum backup AI. If you’re flying a Cirrus, you’ll still have the Dual Garmin GNS 430’s as backup navigation/communication, if the MFD poops out. The G1000 is fully integrated Nav,Com, but you can make either sceen a PFD with revisionary mode and have full control over all navigation, GPS, communication and Flightplan from single screen.

I think you’re still required to carry all paper charts and approach plates, but you don’t need them. In the G1000, training you can turn the brightness all the way to black to simulate panel failure, and require the student to use only a single navigation device to further simulate equipment failure.


Which of course would be the Garmin (or other backup) graphically inclined radio :slight_smile: rather then the “use the imagination NAV1” in my plane and follow along on the paper chart routine.

It does make sense to require the approach plates based on my Garmin 430 experiences as the approaches don’t have the minimums programmed in but enroute, of course it will take eons for the FAA to realize that enroute maps are obsolete with the new glass configuration. Only thing enroute maps are good for with planes that have glass is the flight planning stage.

Heck, even with the Garmin 430 which does not display the victor highways, navigating is as easy as waypoint to way point which keeps you on the victor highways if you fly it correctly.



With just the PFD, you can select to track to a standard VOR radio station on Nav1 or Nav2 and the presentation it very much like a standard steam gauge HSI.

Agreed, exept if you opt to purchase the optional ChartView or Jep chart service you even get up to date plates full screen with real time aircraft overlay, but i imagine the FAA will continue to spend gobs of money printing paper charts every month…

I believe the 430W update includes victor airways.


Pretty much the same with the 430 when using the CDI display, but sooooo much easier to track when compared to a ground based NAV1 you get closer to the station, you don’t get that “hypersensitivity” around the what I call the zone of confusion when you are withing a mile of the VOR.

Ahh, very interesting, I may have upgraded if I had known this. I don’t have very many WAAS capable airports, and for now, just couldn’t justify the cost in the upgrade.

I figure, when (and if) I get a second Garmin 430, then I would get that one WAAS capable. Right now, I just don’t see me having the need to “overprice” my Sundowner with the latest and greatest when it won’t increase the speed :smiley:



Indeed, although there are some cool benefits to the WAAS upgrade beside LPV approaches. One obviously Victor Airways. The processor has been updated so refresh time are noticeably faster. I think there were some WX down link updates. Plus you even get vertical guidance on non precision GPS approaches. You basically still get a glideslope needle and info and altitudes on step down fixes. And if you have have the unit couple with an autopilot it will send roll steering info. But it still won’t make you any faster.

And, just to stay on topic, the G1000W also incorporates these same updates.