New flight technology enforced with ‘glass’

The future of aviation looks more like a video game than the revolutionary digital technology it actually is.

Two screens surrounded by a multitude of buttons, knobs and a sea of bright-green lights compose the biggest trend in modern aviation, known as “glass.”

Glass refers to the digital instrumentation in airplanes that is becoming increasingly popular and necessary within the field of aviation. Where most traditional cockpits feature many mechanical gauges, glass cockpits use computer displays that can be adjusted to show different information.

To keep pace with other training programs and the aviation industry, Aviation Studies Director Jon McDermott made a special effort to obtain an airplane with the new technology. He recently went to Florida to pick up a new Piper Arrow craft, complete with glass.

McDermott said the University is the only college in Ohio currently using glass technology to educate and train its students.

“More and more general aviation airplanes are coming out with this,” he said, emphasizing the necessity of familiarizing pilots with glass to prepare them for future careers as professional pilots.

Flight systems manager Linda Snyder shared McDermott’s thoughts on the importance of glass to potential professional aviators.

“Our students have to see glass or they’ll be behind other people that they’ll be competing with to get jobs,” she said. “It’s becoming more and more necessary.”

Glass has been credited with allowing pilots to concentrate on only the most important information, as well as drastically simplifying the cockpit.

“It’s going to take a while to get used to,” said Jason Dorsey, a senior. “But it’s going to make it safer to fly, and there’s going to be more information at my disposal.”

Additional information offered by glass includes an extensively-detailed GPS map of a plane’s current position, updates regarding weather, and several other features that are only meaningful to an experienced pilot.

Aviation program faculty said they believe the $40,000 system will give University students the edge they will need to secure careers as aviators.

“Our students are not only learning to use this new technology, they are gaining valuable experience flying the technology that airliners use – a significant career-enhancing process,” McDermott said.

Dorsey, who prefers glass to older analog gauges, is thankful for the opportunity to boost his career options with glass.

“Dr. McDermott’s efforts to get glass are going to inevitably increase the University’s competitiveness,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Dr. McDermott, no one here would be able to experience what it’s like to fly with glass.”