AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What Is a Gyroscope?

While traveling at high altitudes through clouds and other debilitating weather, pilots will need more than sight to determine their exact location. One category of devices that make their way into every pilot’s arsenal are gyroscopic instruments, those of which include altitude indicators and directional gyroscopes. These instruments work in tandem with the pitot system to allow for precise and accurate navigation. To better understand how these instruments operate and the role they play in aviation, this blog will cover the ins and outs of gyroscopic equipment.

Gyro instruments work on the principle of gyroscopic inertia, meaning its components remain in uninterrupted motion during flight. Specifically, gyro devices contain spinning wheels or discs that rotate around an axis, typically kept in motion within a vacuum. During level flight, the rotational movement of the instrument becomes stabilized, and this wheel spins quite rapidly, typically 10,000 to 15,000 rpm. Deviations in flight will fail to dislodge the disc from its gimbal mount, while the case of the instrument will move in tandem with the aircraft. This translates to the movement of a needle or card on the face of the instrument.

Three basic gyroscopes comprise the attitude indicator (AI), heading indicator (HI), and turn coordinator (TC), all of which operate on the same principles in different manners. For example, the gyro wheel within the AI operates on two axes, which provides for both pitch and roll information on one instrument. Meanwhile, the HI places its gyro wheel spinning on the horizontal axis, the pivot aligned with the aircraft centerline. Regardless, the outer casing of all three begins to turn only in response to changes in flight, such as during yaw or other short-term movements in flight.

While reliable, gyroscopic instruments are generally dependable, they should be checked periodically as they are prone to inaccuracies. For example, the attitude indicator contains a set of weights intended to drive the instrument toward level flight by sensing gravity that will cancel out a 30-degree turn after ten minutes of unleveled flight. Another example is the HI’s tendency towards precession, moving from the set magnetic heading over time. Since the AI and HI are usually powered by the same pneumatic system, it is prudent to have another gyro instrument independent from them. That is the turn coordinator, or turn and bank coordinator, either of which is usually powered electrically. Spinning on the horizontal axis, these instruments are oriented parallel to the wingspan.

Whether you are in the market for an aircraft radar altimeter, gyroscopic instruments, or other navigation-related aviation instruments, look no further than Aviation Domain 360. As one website in a series owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, alongside ASAP AOG and other AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited enterprises, we make quality the cornerstone of our operations. Additionally, we adhere to a strict No China Sourcing pledge to further guarantee the highest caliber inventory available. Once you have taken the time to browse our expansive listings of new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts, submit a Request for Quote form to receive an Instant Quote for your comparisons in 15 minutes or less. We only ask that you offer our market experts as much relevant detail as possible, including shipping deadlines, desired quantities, and target prices. This allows us to tailor a personalized quotation with rapid lead times and competitive cost savings. For further inquiries about our products and services, contact one of our dedicated representatives at any time; we are available to help 24/7x365.


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