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<   No. 1891   2008-03-31   >

Comic #1891

1 Air Traffic Controller: Okay, We're going to talk you through everything you need to know to land that plane.
2 Air Traffic Controller: See those gauges just to the left of the steering control? They indicate your altitude and airspeed.
3 Air Traffic Controller: The ones on the right show crosswind, fuel, and attitude.
4 Steve: {over radio} Crikey! That last one is reading wrong!
4 Air Traffic Controller: It is?
4 Steve: {over radio} It should say "cool and confident"!

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Not that sort of attitude.

A reader writes:
The position, and collection of gauges presented was more reminiscent of a small plane than an airliner.

Airliners generally will have one of two layouts. Based on the fact that you included cross-wind, I'm going to assume that this is a digital cockpit, as older analog cockpits have no crosswind indication.

In that case, the Attitude indicator would be a large (possibly circular) blob on the left screen with airspeed indicated in a vertical strip right up against it on the left, and altitude right up against it on the right. The fuel would be indicated on the lower "Crew information Display" which is below the engine display. There would possibly be a small fuel indication on the engine display depending on the model of aircraft.

Finally, crosswind would be on the inside display (between the outside attitude displays and the center engine display) along with all the navigational information.

Another note is that the instruments a controller would tell a inexperienced person trying to land a plane to look at would be the auto-pilot, the engine instruments and then the attitude indicator. This is because, on commercial airliners, it is often possible to fly the airplane straight to the runway, even to a stop on the runway, by spinning the right knobs and hitting the right buttons on the Flight Management System.

This reader is (probably) right. I have no real idea, not having ever flown a plane, though I did get to sit in the co-pilot's seat one time on a commercial flight on a 10-seater plane. I was more interested in admiring the view than memorising the positions of the gauges.
2018-11-16 Rerun commentary: I guess that guy walking across the room behind the air traffic controllers has some urgent business to attend to. I like adding in extra people in the background of scenes like this. These characters have their own stories, it's just that we never get to see them.

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