Instrument Cockpit Check


At the conclusion of this briefing, the student should be able to explain the execution of (and reasons for) the instrument cockpit check.


  • Reasons for the instrument cockpit check
  • Use of checklists
  • Identification of safe flight condition
  • Recognition of discrepancies


  • model aircraft
  • pens, pad of paper
  • flight simulator
  • aircraft standardization manual and operating handbook

Instructor actions

  • Discuss the lesson objective
  • Pose a scenario where the student takes off into actual conditions with inoperative instruments
  • Describe instrument cockpit check by using flight simulator to demonstrate proper flow during the taxi
  • Have the student demonstrate their own instrument cockpit check using flight simulator
  • Evaluate student's learning by posing review questions throughout and correcting to 100%
  • Assign homework for next briefing

Student actions

  • Prepare for the briefing by reading through the flow in the standardization manual
  • Demonstrate an instrument cockpit check in flight simulator during a hypothetical taxi
  • Participate with discussion, taking notes throughout

Completion Standards

The lesson is complete when the student can demonstrate an instrument cockpit check with minimal instructor guidance in flight simulator, and understands the reasoning behind this preflight procedure. Throughout the lesson they should be able to correctly answer a majority of the questions posed without significant instructor prompting.

Teaching outline

  • Purpose of the check

    • Identify that all instruments and avionics are properly configured and operating correctly
    • Makes certain that the aircraft takes off in a safe condition

Equipment status and general flow

  • Communication and navigation equipment - frequencies set, checked, and identified
  • Magnetic compass - no bubbles, known heading
  • Clock - set and turning
  • Airspeed indicator - pegged at zero
  • Attitude indicator - upright in five minutes, no more than 5° deflection during turns
  • Altimeter - pressure set and reading within 75 feet

    • Make sure it's the correct thousands! 1854 looks close to 854.
  • Vertical speed indicator - note current indication
  • Heading indicator - proper change during turn, set to runway heading
  • Turn coordinator - no flag, ball to the outside / plane to the inside during turn
  • Power / vacuum source for gyroscopic instruments - safe range
  • Pitot heat - checked during preflight
  • Electronic flight instrument display (PFD)
  • Traffic and terrain awareness systems
  • FMS
  • Autopilot
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