The main flight instruments on a B747-400 are shown below.

If you have never seen an instrument panel before this probably looks complicated.

Believe it or not it is a great layout for pilots. The screen on the left is called the "Primary Flight Display" (PFD), and the screen on the right is called the "Navigation Display" (ND). The ND displays the map which is generated from one of the flight management computers. The aircraft position is shown as a white triangle and the magenta coloured line is where the pilot wishes to fly.

The scale shown is 40 nautical miles, which is expandable to 640nm. It is on this screen that other planes flying within 40nm and within 2,700 feet above or below would be displayed.

Both pilots have the same panels in order to cross monitor each other.


The left display is the PFD. This holds the aircraft attitude, airspeed (342 knots), and height (14,110 feet).

To the right of the altitude is the vertical speed indicator, showing here a descent at 950 feet per minute.
Below is a compass rose displaying track.


At the top left hand side you can see the wind, airspeed and groundspeed. The current track is 133 degrees. Navigation aids for monitoring aircraft position are shown at the bottom left and right of the screen.

To explain further read the descriptions below:
Look at the top of the PFD            

The green writing at the top displays the autothrottle (maintains airspeed, a lot more sophisticated than your car cruise control!) is in Hold. This means here that the engine power is at idle. An autopilot is flying, shown as "CMD"(see the ND above), and flying in LNAV and VNAV SPD.

This means that the autopilot is flying in a lateral navigation mode (that is, flying the magenta line as shown on the map on the ND), and flying a speed as programmed by the pilot.


The well defined white lines indicate the wings of the plane relative to the horizon and bank angle.
Here the plane is in level flight, the wings are level and the nose is on the horizon. On take-off a B747-400 is commonly rotated to an angle of 12 degrees or more to climb away from the runway

This is the most important instrument for aeroplanes that fly at night or in cloud. This instrument shows which way is up! Here the blue indicates the sky above and the black is below the horizon.


On the main pilot display (PFD) you can see the speed tape on the left hand side, here shown as 342 knots.

The altitude is displayed on a tape, here the height displayed is 14,110 feet.
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