Neal Sheeran

Rants, Raves, and Geekery

Cockpit Switches


Someone on Quora asks the question “what do all the controls in an airplane cockpit do?” A pilot named Tim Morgan then provides a 9,000 word answer, using the Boeing 737 as his guide. Tim’s reply gets it’s own writeup in the Atlantic. Being somewhat familiar with aviation of the military speciality, here is a list of things missing from Morgan’s tour-de-force:

  • A switch to arm the gun
  • A trigger to fire aforementioned gun
  • Similar arm and fire switches to drop other weapons
  • More arm and fire switches for chaff and flares
  • Switches to manage the radar warning receiver and jammer
  • Knobs to operate the air refueling system
  • An emergency switch to jettison all stores
  • Switch to operate the Heads Up Display (HUD) camera
  • Come to think of it, switches to operate the HUD
  • Switches to operate the secure radios so that in case the bad guys are listening, they don’t hear us talk about how we are about to blow them up
  • Various knobs and switches that control the system that alerts the pilot he is about to hit the ground. Actually, I hope airliners have these too.
  • And last, and most hopefully least…ejection handles.

I’m 100% sure that airline pilots don’t have ejection seats. If they did, trust me when I say that you don’t want to fly on that airline.