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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A330 Terminology: It’s All Foreign


One of the more confusing things about understanding a glass airplane is learning the terms. But learning the fundamentals is the foundation to success.

EIS: Electronic Instrument System. Imagine this system as the brain of the flight deck that communicates and manages the data by displaying navigation, flight, engines, aircraft systems, and associated messages on six display units. This system also provides instrument switching when display units fail.

These six identical display units, known as DUs are used to display ECAM, and EFIS information for both pilots.

EFIS: Electronic Flight Instrument System (not to be confused with EIS) displays the Primary Flight Information (PFD), and Navigation Data (ND) on the out two display units. (DUs)

  • PFD—Primary Flight Display—displays heading, attitude, altitude, airspeed, vertical speed, and autoflight status.
  • ND—Navigation Data—Displays navigation data in various formats, depending upon the selection on the EFIS control panel.

EFIS Control Panel Located on the Glareshield

ECAM: Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor—Display engines data, fuel quantity, flap position, messages, checklist information, and aircraft systems on two DUs.

  • E/WD—Normally on the upper ECAM—displays fuel quantity, slat and flap position and alerts and caution messages.
  • SD—System Display—normally on the lower DU—displays aircraft systems, status messages, and secondary flight data.

ECAM control panel—used to manage data on both the E/WD and the SD.

This is just a taste of the flight deck. But once you know what terms mean, you'll be able to gain deeper understanding of the systems and how they work.

Enjoy the Journey

XOX Karlene


  1. Do any of these A330 displays show GPS-derived ground speed? I was wondering (from another location) if the AF447 crew could have determined (or at least guessed at) their likely airspeed based on ground speed. My airplane shows GS on the GPS NAV screen, and in cruise that's actually more useful than IAS anyway. In theory, if my airspeed indicator were iced up I could fly fairly well on the GPS-derived GS.

    1. Yes... there is GPS data available. But, it's on the MDCU. Selecting DATA will bring up GPS GS and Altitude too. So, there was data to be used. Had they known.

  2. Whoa, what a challenge. That part about learning the fundamentals being the foundation of success rings loud and true, though. That applies to so many pursuits in life!

    1. Thanks for the comment Linda. That does ring true. I still smile at the fundamentals I learned in Hawaii. And now I have a book! :)

  3. All I ever get to play with on the ECAM is the APU and HYD pages. Those and the radio. But then I only get to ride brakes.

    1. But you get to play with the radios! And... that's a skill for some because if you're not used to them, it can get very confusing.
      And you know two more pages than most. :)


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