In February 1934, the Technical Committee of the "Association Internationale du Trafic Aerien" (I.A.T.A. [The original organisation was founded in the Hague in 1919 but in 1945 it became the International Air Transport Association, keeping I.A.T.A., and was founded in Havana, Cuba.] ) published a special report dealing with the standardisation of aircraft instruments. Safety was the governing factor for the Committee for the publication of the report.
"The control of an aeroplane often necessitates rapid and accurate adjustments on the part of the pilot, and these will be facilitated if the positions of the instruments and all controls and the methods of manipulation are the same for all types of aeroplanes. The pilot will be less likely to make grave errors in times of emergency."
As you can see, the Committee wanted to improve aviation safety by lessening the ever increasing workload of the pilot(s) and crew through standardising, where practicable, not only the flight instruments but also the engine and other aircraft system instruments.
Section 3 of the report concerns the placement of flight instruments and is therefore the forbear of the basic six:
"(iii) Standardization of Position. It is desirable that instruments be placed so as to permit immediate recognition at the moment of reading. It is realized that complete standardization is impracticable; nevertheless certain guiding principles should govern the choice of position.
Preference should be given to the control instruments such as the Cross and Fore-and-aft Levels, Turn Indicator and Landing Altimeter, which should be grouped together centrally where the pilot can see them easily without turning his eyes. These instruments should be duplicated in dual machines.
The remaining instruments (Compass, Watch, Engine Speed Indicator, etc.) should be disposed to best advantage bearing in mind the desirability of-
The position of the Compass must be chosen with due regard to-
In 1937, the Royal Air Force introduced the new service blind-flying panel which consisted of six essential instruments; Airpseed Indicator, Gyro Horizon, Climb Indicator, Kollsman Altimeter, Directional Gyro and a Turn and Bank Indicator and was more comprehensive than the recognised primary blind-flying instrument group which consisted of Airspeed Indicator, Turn Indicator and Climb Indicator. The Gyro Horizon and the Directional Gyro were said to be the instruments most frequently scanned by the pilot and were therefore laid out in the centre of the dashboard. The other four instruments could be laid out according to the company manufacturing the aircraft or the test pilot.
We have represented here, in graphical form, the Basic Six set of essential instruments, as they could be laid out on a blind-flying panel, always with the Attitude Indicator (Artificial Horizon or Gyro Horizon) and the Heading Indicator (Directional Gyro) in the center of the group. The six basic flying instruments in our layout are (top row, left to right):
(bottom row, right to left)
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