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Instruments

Pressure Altimeter
Chapter

Pressure Instruments
Pitot Static Probes and ADC.
Airspeed Indicator ( ASI ).
Mach Meter.
Pressure Altimeter.
Vertical Speed Indicator ( VSI ).

 Gyroscopic Instruments
Direction Gyro Indicator ( DGI ).
Artificial Horizon ( AH ).
Turn And Slip Indicator.

 Magnetism And Compasses


Magnetism General.
Direct Reading Magnetic Compass.
Sperry Compass System.

Miscellaneous Systems
Inertial Navigation System ( INS ).
Temperature Indicators.
Flight Data Recorders ( FDR ).
Angle Of Attack Indicators.
Flight Management System And Autopilots ( FMS ).
Pitot Static Instruments
Pressure Altimeter Introduction
The Pressure Altimeter is basically an Aneroid Barometer.
An Aneroid Barometer is used to measure the ambient Atmospheric pressure or Static pressure.
This pressure measurement is then used to display aircraft altitude.
The Altimeter is calibrated for ISA conditions.
Pressure Altimeter
The following is a summary of the operation of the Pressure Altimeter

 The Pressure Altimeter measures the ambient Atmospheric pressure or Static pressure.

 The Static pressure is measured by the Static port or vent and is fed into the airtight case of the instrument.

 The Pressure Altimeter has a partially evacuated capsule supported by a leaf spring inside the case.

 As the aircraft climbs the Static pressure decreases and the capsule will expand.

 This expansion is transmitted through the linkages to indicate an increase in altitude.

 As the aircraft descends the Static pressure will increase causing the capsule to contract.

 This contraction is transmitted through the linkages to indicate a decrease in altitude.

 A Bi- Metallic strip is incorporated into the suitable linkages to compensate for the expansion or contraction of
the linkages with temperature changes.
Pressure Altimeter Construction
Sealed Case

Static Vent
Altimeter Scale

Capsule
Linkages

Static Port Pointer

Baro Correction

Static pressure is measured at the Static port.


As the aircraft climbs the Static pressure decreases and the capsule expands.
This expansion shows an increase in altitude.
As the aircraft descends the Static pressure increases and the capsule will contract.
This contraction shows a decrease in altitude.
The Baro correction is used to compensate for any deviation in ISA conditions.
Air Data Computer ( ADC )

 Central Air Data Computers ( CADC ) or Air Data Computers ( ADC ) are used in jet aircraft.

 One ( CADC ) for the captain’s flight instruments and the second computer for the first officer’s flight
instruments.

 These computers convert mechanical energy from the Pitot and Static vents to an electrical equivalent by
means of transducers and supply the information to the Airspeed Indicator, Mach Meter, Vertical Speed
Indicator and the Altimeter.

 The advantage of the ADC is that there are no mechanical linkages thus reducing errors to a minimum.

What is important in the next diagram is to note the inputs to and outputs from the ADC.
Air Data Computer ( ADC )
Static Defect
Correction
Static
Altitude
Pressure
Static Vertical Speed
Transducer
Pressure

Density Density

28 Volts DC
Altitude Altitude Hold
Memory
Mach Mach Number
Number
Dynamic
Pressure Indicated Airspeed
Dynamic
Transducer
Pressure
True Airspeed
True Airspeed

Total Air Temp TAT Probe Static Air


Temperature Static Air Temperature

Angle Of Attack Probe Angle Of Attack


Correction Angle Of Attack Corrected
Sensitive Altimeter
 The Sensitive Altimeter has two or three capsules instead of one which gives the pointers a greater
movement for a given pressure change.
 The capsules drive three pointers showing different altitude calibrations.
 A barometric setting knob is used to set the subscales.

10 000 Foot Increments

1000 Foot Increments

100 Foot Increments

Subscale Adjustment
Altimeter ( ALT ) Errors
Instrument Error :
 These errors are caused by imperfections during manufacture and wear and tear of the instrument.
 There is another consideration, and that is the rate of pressure change of the atmosphere with an increase in
altitude and is assumed to be constant.
 As this assumption is not true the altimeter will be unreliable at higher altitudes.

0 to 5000 Feet equates to approximately 170 Mb.


35000 Feet to 40000 Feet equates to approximately 50 Mb.
60000 Feet to 65000 Feet equates to approximately 15 Mb.

Pressure and Position Error :


 This error is caused by incorrect pressures being sensed at the Static vent due to the disturbed airflow over
the airframe.
 This error is also caused by the disturbed airflow due to the positioning of the Static vent on the airframe.
 These errors are combined and a correction card can be produced.

Manoeuvre Induced Error :


 This error is produced by the changes in aircraft attitude and configuration or when the Static vent is not
aligned with the airflow i.e. a side slip or crabbed flight in crosswind.
Altimeter ( ALT ) Errors
Time Lag Error :
 It may take time for pressure changes at the Static vent to register on the altimeter.
 This is mainly due to the mechanical properties of the instrument.

During a rapid climb the Altimeter lags and therefore under reads.
During a rapid descent the Altimeter lags and therefore over reads.

Barometric Error :
 The Altimeter is calibrated according to ISA conditions for atmospheric pressure.
 If there is a deviation from the ISA pressure conditions an error will occur in the Altimeter indications.
 The pressure error can be corrected for by means of the barometric correction scale.

Temperature Error :
 The Altimeter is calibrated according to ISA conditions for atmospheric temperature.
 If there is a deviation from the ISA temperature conditions an error will occur in the Altimeter.
 The error is small at lower altitudes but significant at higher altitudes.
 This error can be corrected by the altitude window on a navigation computer.
Servo Assisted Altimeter
 The Servo Assisted Altimeter solves most of the problems found in the Pressure Altimeter.
 The Pressure capsules are retained but their information is measured electronically by means of E and I
bars.
 A motor drives the pointers and altitude drums which improves accuracy and virtually eliminates time lag
errors.

10 000 Foot Increments

1000 Foot Increments

100 Foot Increments

Subscale Adjustment
E and I Bar Theory
 The transducer component of a Servo Assisted Altimeter consists of an E bar and an I Bar.
 An Alternating Current is fed to the primary coil on the centre leg of the E bar.
 Equal magnetic flux flows are produced due to the equal air gap between the E and I bars ( Level Flight ).
 Equal but opposite voltages are produced in the secondary coils of the outer legs of the E bar.
 This results in no output voltage.
No Output to Secondary Coil

AC Supply to Primary Coil


E and I Bar Theory
 The transducer component of a Servo Assisted Altimeter consists of an E bar and an I Bar.
 An Alternating Current is fed to the primary coil on the centre leg of the E bar.
 When the aircraft climbs or descends the barometric capsules drive the I bar, thus causing the air gaps
between the E and I bar to be different.
 The different air gaps cause different amounts of flux to flow.
 This results in an output voltage in the secondary coils.
 The polarity of the output voltage depends on the direction the I bar is deflected i.e. climb or descend.

Directional Output to Secondary Coil

AC Supply to Primary Coil


Servo Assisted Altimeter Operation

Motor Drive
Voltage
Amp
Counters
Pointer Motor
Output
Voltage

Cam Follower
Gear Train

Cam

Mb
Scale Worm Gear

Capsules

Anvil
Servo Assisted Altimeter Summary

Normal Operation ( Aircraft climbing and descending ):

 As the aircraft climbs or descends the Capsules expand or contract as the Static atmospheric pressure changes.
 The Capsules move the I bar thus changing the air gap between the E and I bar.
 This change in air gap causes an output voltage from the outer legs of the E bar which is sent to the amplifier.
 The amplifier determines the polarity of the output voltage and drives the motor in the correct direction depending
on whether the aircraft is climbing or descending.
 The motor, through the Gear Train, drives the altitude counters and the altitude pointer.
 The motor, through the Gear Train, also turns the Worm Gear.
 The Worm Gear drives the Cam.
 The Cam drives the Cam Follower.
 The Cam Follower moves the E bar to the null position.
 In the null position the air gap between the E and I bar is the same.
 No output voltage is produced and the whole operation stops at the aircraft altitude.
Servo Assisted Altimeter Summary
Barometric Adjustment.
 To adjust the Altimeter for deviation in ISA pressure conditions the Baro correction is used.
 If one increases the QNH value in the subscale the altimeter will indicate higher and the converse is true.
 Turning the Baro correction drives the millibar scale through the Gear Train on the adjustment shaft.
 Turning the Baro correction will also adjust the Anvil, either lengthening or shortening the shaft.
 The Anvil will move the Adjustment Lever.
 The Adjustment Lever will move the Worm Gear left or right from its null position.
 The movement of the Worm Gear will move the Cam.
 The Cam will move the Cam Follower.
 Moving the Cam Follower will move the E bar with respect to the I bar.
 This change in air gap causes an output voltage from the outer legs of the E bar which is sent to the amplifier.
 The amplifier determines the polarity of the output voltage and drives the motor in the correct direction depending
on which way the Baro correction was turned.
 The motor, through the Gear Train, drives the altitude counters and the altitude pointer.
 The motor, through the Gear Train, also turns the Worm Gear.
 The Worm Gear drives the Cam.
 The Cam drives the Cam Follower.
 The Cam Follower moves the E bar to the null position.
 In the null position the air gap between the E and I bar is the same.

Altitude and Pressure Relationship
 As the aircraft flies from a high pressure area to a low pressure area the atmosphere becomes less dense.
 The Altimeter capsules sense this drop in pressure.
 As the pressure drops the Altimeter capsules start to expand.
 The expansion of the capsules is indicated as an increase in altitude.
 The pilot tries to maintain his assigned altitude and thus starts to descend the aircraft.
 The aircraft is thus moving closer to the ground for a constant assigned or maintained altitude.
 The altimeter over reads.
Altitude and Pressure Relationship
 The aircraft flies from a high temperature area to a low temperature area at a constant Pressure.
 One must remember the QNH setting on the altimeter is a function of pressure at the aircraft reduced to
sea level by means of a formula 1 Mb per 30 Feet assuming ISA pressure gradient.
 In warm air, because of its lower density, the aircraft will have to be higher to obtain the same pressure
difference in Mb from sea level. The altimeter under reads.
 In cold air, because of its high density the displacement of the aircraft for the same Mb change will be less
and the aircraft will be lower to the ground. The altimeter is over reading.
Altitude Definitions
QNH:
 This is the mean sea level pressure calculated from the airfield pressure reduced to sea level using the ISA
formula.
 The formula is 1Millibar change for every 30 Feet.
 When QNH is set in the altimeter, the reading on the instrument is called an Altitude above mean sea level
( AMSL ).

QNH  Airfield Pressure  Correction to Sea Level


QNH  860Mb  167 Mb
QNH  1027 Mb

Airfield Pressure
860 Mb
Airfield Elevation
5010 Feet

QNH is 1027 Mb
Mean Sea Level
Altitude Definitions
QFE:
 This is the barometric pressure at the airfield as measured by an Aneroid Barometer.
 When the airfield pressure is set in the altimeter subscale the altimeter will read height above this
reference.
 When QFE is set in the altimeter subscale the altimeter measures height above the airfield elevation.

QFE  QNH  Correction to Sea Level


QFE  1027Mb  167 Mb
QFE  860 Mb

Airfield Pressure
860 Mb
Airfield Elevation
5010 Feet

QNH is 1027 Mb
Mean Sea Level
Altitude Definitions
QNE:
 This is the barometric pressure at the ISA reference point of 1013.25 Mb.
 When the QNE is set in the altimeter subscale the altimeter will read the following:
Flight Level i.e. FL 090.
Pressure Altitude i.e. 9000 Feet.
 When QNE is set the altimeter reads altitude above the ISA reference level.

Airfield Pressure
860 Mb
Airfield Elevation
5010 Feet
ISA Reference
1013.25 Mb

QNH is 1027 Mb
Mean Sea Level
ISA Temperature Calculation
Lets consider this problem :
To calculate an ISA temperature given the following :
What is the ISA temperature at FL 350?

Flight Level 350 ISA Temperature at FL 350 = - 55°C

-55°c
55 degree temperature Drop

Total Drop 70°cCelcius


70°cCelcius Temperature Drop = 35000 x 2 / 1000 = - 70 °c
0°c
15 degree temperature Drop

15°c Sea Level


Density Altitude Calculation
Density Altitude is a two part calculation; firstly to compensate for the pressure deviation from International
Standard Atmosphere (ISA ) and secondly, the temperature deviation from International Standard
Atmosphere ( ISA ).

Example No 1.
Airport elevation is 4517 feet, the QNH is 1006.8 hPa and the temperature is 22° Celsius. What is the density
altitude of the airfield?

Step 1.
Correct the pressure deviation from ISA. ISA is 1013.25Mb, for every Mb deviation the atmosphere deviation
is 30 feet. If one turns the Mb subscale on the altimeter clockwise to increase the QNH the altitude will increase
and conversely if the Mb subscale is turned anti-clockwise to reduce the QNH the altimeter will decrease.

1006.8Mb  1013.25Mb  6.45Mb


6.45Mb  30  193.5 Feet Error
Because the subscale is turned clockwise the numbers increase and the altitude increases thus the correction is
added to the elevation to give the pressure altitude.

4517 Ft  193.5 Ft  4710.5 Ft Pressure Altitude


Density Altitude Calculation
Example No 1
Airport elevation is 4517 feet, the QNH is 1006.8 hPa and the temperature is 22° Celsius. What is the density
altitude of the airfield?

Step 2
Correct the temperature deviation from ISA. For every 1° Celsius deviation from ISA there is a 120 feet
altitude error. If the temperature is higher then the atmosphere is thinner and the converse is true.

4710.5  2 / 1000  9.42 degrees drop in temp


15 degrees - 9.42 degrees drop  5.58 degrees celcius ISA
22 degrees - 5.58 degrees  16.42 degrees deviation

16.42 degrees error  120 feet  1970.4 feet deviation


Therefore density altitude is the pressure altitude compensated for temperature

4710.4 feet pressure alt  1970.4 feet deviation  6681 feet density alt
Altitude Alerting System
 The Altitude Alerting System is coupled electronically to the Altimeter System.
 The system provides an audio and visual warning to the pilots when the aircraft is approaching a selected
altitude.
 The warning light remains illuminated until 200 feet before reaching the selected level.
 The system also provides an audio and visual warning if the aircraft deviates above or below the selected
altitude by more than 200 feet.

Selected Flight Level


FL330

800 Feet Before Selected Altitude Alert


Altitude Alerting System
 The Altitude Alerting System is coupled electronically to the Altimeter System.
 The system provides an audio and visual warning to the pilots when the aircraft is approaching a selected
altitude.
 The warning light remains illuminated until 200 feet before reaching the selected level.
 The system also provides an audio and visual warning if the aircraft deviates above or below the selected
altitude by more than 200 feet.

800 Feet Before Selected Altitude


Alert

Selected Flight Level


FL330
Altitude Alerting System
 The Altitude Alerting System is coupled electronically to the Altimeter System.
 The system provides an audio and visual warning to the pilots when the aircraft is approaching a selected
altitude.
 The warning light remains illuminated until 200 feet before reaching the selected level.
 The system also provides an audio and visual warning if the aircraft deviates above or below the selected
altitude by more than 200 feet.

Alert
200 Feet Above Selected Altitude

Selected Flight Level


FL330

200 Feet Below Selected Altitude


Alert
Altimeter / Transponder Interface

 In commercial aircraft the transponder is supplied with altitude information from an Altitude Encoding Altimeter.

 In an Altitude Encoding Altimeter an encoding glass disk is driven by the Altimeter Transmission System.

 The glass disk is encoded with a binary system that corresponds to the aircraft Pressure Altitude.

 A lamp illuminates the glass disk and the information is read by a photo - electric cell.

 After amplification the information is sent to the transponder.

 The transponder transmits aircraft Pressure Altitude to ATC.


Transition Altitude
 The Transition Altitude is an altitude in the vicinity of the airfield at or below which the vertical position of
the aircraft is expressed in altitude.
 The Transition Altitude is usually 1000 Feet above the highest obstacle.
 The Transition Altitude is found on the approach charts.
 When climbing the QNE is set at the Transition Altitude.

Aircraft Now Flying Flight Levels

Set QNE
1013.25 Mb
Set QNE
Transition Altitude 1013.25 Mb

Transition Altitude

JNB DBN
Transition Level
 The Transition Level is the lowest Flight Level available for the use above the Transition Altitude.
 Vertical position of the aircraft is expressed in Flight Levels.
 The Transition Level is usually 2000 Feet above the highest obstacle.
 The Transition Level is given by the ATIS or ATC.
 When descending the QNH is set at the Transition Level.

Aircraft Now Flying Flight Levels

Transition Level Set QNH

Set QNH Transition Level


Transition Layer

Set QNE Transition Layer


Transition Altitude
1013.25 Mb

Transition Altitude
Set QNE
JNB 1013.25 Mb
DBN
Semi – Circular Flight Levels
 In South Africa no VFR flights are allowed above 20000 Feet.
 Flight Levels are assigned by means of the aircraft Magnetic Track.
 In non RVSM airspace Flight Levels ensure 2000 feet separation between opposite direction traffic.

VFR IFR
Flight Levels Flight Levels

359° 359°
000° 000°
Even
Even Thousands
Odd Odd
Thousands FL 280
Thousands Thousands
+ 500 Feet to FL 285 then
+ 500 Feet to FL 275 FL 290
then
then then
FL 280
FL 285 FL 290
FL 275
FL 310
FL 320 FL 330
FL 300
FL 350
FL 360 FL 370
FL 340
FL 390
FL 400 FL 410
FL 380
180° 180°
179° 179°
Altimeter Calculations

Identify the type of altimeter problem.

Always draw a sketch.

Using the formula 1Mb equal 30 Feet, convert altimeter settings so that all the units are the same.

Note that when the barometric value increases the altimeter will indicate higher.

Note that when the barometric value decreases the altimeter will indicate lower.
Altimeter Calculation No 1
An aircraft heading 003° magnetic and has 10° of left drift. The aircraft has to pass over high ground
that is 2200 meters AMSL. Minimum clearance over high ground is 2000 Feet. Spot QNH is 1025 Mb.
What is the lowest IFR flight level the aircraft must maintain?

QNH 1025 Mb to 1013.25 Mb  11.75 Mb Difference


FL X
1013.25 Mb 11.75 Mb  30 Feet per Mb  353 Feet Difference
Altitude will decrease  7218 Feet - 353 Feet
Altitude  6865 Feet
Altitude  clearence  6865 Feet  2000 Feet
Altitude  clearence  8865 Feet
2000 Feet
Clearance Required IFR Level  Track 353 Degrees
Required IFR Level  FL 080 or FL 100
2200 M
QNH 1025 Required IFR Level  FL 100
7218 Feet

Corrected
Altitude
6865 Feet Sea Level
Altimeter Calculation No 2
En route at Flight Level 270, the altimeter is set correctly. On the descent the pilot fails to reset the
altimeter to QNH 1026.1 Mb. If the airfield elevation is 1300 Feet, what will the altimeter indicate after
landing?

If the altimeter was correctly set at 1026.1 Mb before landing it would read 1300 Feet after landing.
However, 1013.25 Mb is set, as the aircraft is at Flight Level 270.

QNH 1026.1 Mb to 1013.25 Mb  12.85 Mb Difference

FL 270 12.85 Mb  30 Feet per Mb  386 Feet Difference


1013.25 Mb
Altitude will decrease  1300 Feet - 386 Feet

Altimeter will read  914 Feet

QNH 1026.1
1300 Feet

Sea Level
Altimeter Calculation No 3
An aircraft leaves airfield Y, airfield pressure 960 Mb, and the altimeter reads airfield elevation of 1860
Feet. The aircraft lands at airfield Z, elevation 1000 Feet, where the altimeter reads 1270 Feet. What is
the QNH at Z?

Altitude Difference  270 Feet


270 Feet Difference  9 Mb Pressure Difference

To make the Altimeter read correctly  1022 Mb - 9 Mb

QNH at airfeild Z  1013 Mb QNH


QNH 1022 Mb
1022 Mb 1270 Feet

Y
Z
1860 Feet
1000 Feet
QFE 960 Mb 62 Mb
Change
QNH 1013 Mb
QNH 1022 Mb
Sea Level
Altimeter Calculation No 4
An aircraft leaves an airfield X, elevation 510 Feet, with the QFE 999 Mb set on the altimeter, en route
to airfield Y, which is 510 Nm from X. The QNH at Y is 1025 Mb. A spot height of 450 meters is 114
Nm from airfield X is cleared by 2000 Feet. What is the altimeter reading over the spot height?
Difference in Pressure  1025 Mb - 1016 Mb
Difference in Pressure  9 Mb
QFE
999 Mb Difference in Pressure per Nm  9 Mb  510 Nm

Difference in Pressure per Nm  0.0176 Mb per Nm

Difference in Pressure between X and Z  0.0176 Mb  114 Nm


2000 Foot Difference in Pressure per Nm  2 Mb
Clearance
QNH at Z  1018 Mb
Z
X 450 Meters Y
510 Feet 1476 Feet QNH 1025 Mb
QFE 999 Mb
Change
17 Mb

QNH 1018 Mb
QNH 1016 Mb
Sea Level
114 Nm
510 Nm
Altimeter Calculation No 4
An aircraft leaves an airfield X, elevation 510 Feet, with the QFE 999 Mb set on the altimeter, en route
to airfield Y, which is 510 Nm from X. The QNH at Y is 1025 Mb. A spot height of 450 meters is 114
Nm from airfield X is cleared by 2000 Feet. What is the altimeter reading over the spot height?

Pressure Difference Over Spot Height  1018 Mb to 999 Mb


Pressure Difference Over Spot Height  19 Mb
QFE Altitude Correction Over Spot Height  19 Mb  30 Mb
999 Mb
Altitude Correction Over Spot Height  570 Feet
Altitude Correction Over Spot Height  1476 Feet - 570 Feet
Corrected Altitude for Spot Height  906Feet
Altimeter Reading Over Spot Height  906Feet  2000 Feet
2000 Foot
Clearance Altimeter Reading Over Spot Height  2906 Feet

Z
X 450 Meters
1476 Feet Y
510 Feet
QNH 1018 Mb QNH 1025 Mb
QFE 999 Mb
Change
17 Mb

Corrected
QNH 1016 Mb Altitude
906 Feet Sea Level
114 Nm
510 Nm
Altimeter Calculation No 5
During a preflight check the following details were noted. Airfield elevation was 5000 Feet, apron
elevation was 4980 Feet, height of the Static Vent above the ground was 25 Feet, the altimeter was
reading 45 Feet with the airfield QFE set in the subscale. What is the instrument error?

Altimeter will should 25 Feet Above QFE reference


Aircraft standing on the appron which is 20 Feet lower
Therefore Altmeter should read 5 feet
Altimeter is reading 45 feet
Altimeter is thus overeading by 40 Feet

QFE Set
5 Feet

20 Feet 25 Feet
Airfield Elevation
5000 Feet Apron Elevation
QFE 4980 Feet

Sea Level
Altimeter Calculation No 6
The following data is given
Pressure altitude is 8000 Feet.
QNH altitude is 7500 Feet.
OAT is 30° C.
Terrain elevation is 5700 Feet.
What is the Absolute Altitude?

Use altitude window on slide rule.


Altimeter Calculation No 6
The following data is given
Pressure altitude is 8000 Feet.
QNH altitude is 7500 Feet.
OAT is 30° C.
Terrain elevation is 5700 Feet.
What is the Absolute Altitude?

Use altitude window on slide rule.

Set Pressure Altitude against temperature.


Altimeter Calculation No 6
The following data is given
Pressure altitude is 8000 Feet.
QNH altitude is 7500 Feet.
OAT is 30° C.
Terrain elevation is 5700 Feet.
What is the Absolute Altitude?

Use altitude window on slide rule.

Set Pressure Altitude against temperature.

Read True Altitude on the outer ring


against QNH altitude on the inner ring.

True Altitude = 8350 Feet


-
Terrain Elevation = 5700 Feet

= Absolute Altitude = 2650 Feet