Learn on glass or steam gauges?

Is it better it learn on steam gauges and then transition to glass? Or vice versa? Why/ What are the pros and cons of beginning with one or the other?


I don’t think it is a big difference either way. At the end of the day, they both display exactly the same information. I sure wouldn’t spend any more money to fly a glass cockpit airplane. Whichever is least expensive will do just fine.


As an instructor I saw a huge difference in skills between those who began in a 6 pack vs glass. I 100% vote learning in steam-gauge - it will make you a much better instrument pilot. And the transition to glass will be easy versus going the other direction.


First off glass is light years easier than steam. One of the most challenging skills for many new pilots is developing an effective “scan”. Scan is the ability to find (somewhat quickly), interpret and put to use the information your gauges provide. In a standard steam gauge “6 pack” that information is shown on 6 independent instruments. Glass puts all that information together on a single screen and presents it in a much more user visually friendly format. In addition it often provides “trends” to offer a glimpse into the very near future. If you grew up on steam like I did, it’s really quite amazing!

Now a few years ago I was a big proponent of steam gauges. The main reason was if as a new hire you found yourself flying a turboprop with steam and you’d never seen it before that would be a HUGE learning curve (plus I suffered through steam so why should you get off easy :wink: ). Thing is those steam gauge props are becoming fewer and fewer and the chances of you ever flying one is getting less daily.

I still feel there’s some value to steam as a foundation and believe it or not there’s still 767s flying that are part glass and part steam but I see it as less of a requirement and more of a good to know.


Chris,Jordan,and Adam

thank you for taking the time to provide your valuable insights. It really is priceless while navigating thru this process of becoming an aviator. Much appreciated!

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