Steam gage vs Glass cockpit

Hi there.

I’m choosing between flight schools to train for my private pilot license. One of the schools has aircraft with glass cockpits, specifically Piper Warrior and Archer. Another has similar aircraft, however it runs on steam gages. I will be going back to my college after the summer to train and I’m almost certain they use steam gage instruments. Do you see people having trouble going back to steam gages after training on glass cockpits? Thanks!


Hi Sean,

It’s definitely easier going from steam to glass than going the other way. The reason virtually ALL new aircraft are glass is because it’s better. Glass provides virtually all the information you need in a much more logical and ergonomic format. That’s my commercial for glass. That all said I personally believe some round dial experience is important. It teaches you to use the standard “6 pack” layout that you may in fact encounter later in your career if you fly some props. If you have zero experience with that it can be daunting. You’re early enough in your career that making the transition shouldn’t be a problem. Since you you’ll be getting the steam gauges when you return to school I’d go with the glass now. Plus I LOVE Warriors and Archers! :slight_smile:



Is there a cost difference between the school with steam gauges and the one with glass?



I personally believe that steam gauges is the way to train. I think that a glass cockpit is great and the extra functionality makes flying much safer, but it is like training with an autopilot.
I trained at KIWA and I had the option to fly both steam and glass, so my instructor (in her infinite wisdom) decided to use steam with a few glass flights sprinkled here and there. By the time I started instrument I was comfortable with the steam guages, and was also familiar with the glass cockpit layout.

My recommendation is to start out on the steam guages. If you have the option to sprinkle in some glass then of course do it, but don’t build your foundation on glass.



I agree with Yarden, to switch from scanning a 2-3 foot area to scanning a 6 inch screen is pretty easy. Going the other way can be difficult.