Checklist discipline is one of the key elements for safe flying. It is easy to achieve when there are two pilots. One pilot can read the checklist while the other makes sure that aircraft attitude and power are correct. A single pilot can juggle a paper checklist or try to use the various electronic checklist options, but the workload is too much for some people and/or some situations. Checklists in multi-function displays, such as Garmin and Avidyne, are buried a little too deeply for maximum safety. To get to the Climb checklist, for example, the pilot might have to press several buttons and take his or her attention away from aircraft attitude for 5 or 10 seconds to get through the relevant menus.
Here’s what I want, especially in an aircraft that has a lot of free panel space: a ribbon of switches, one per normal checklist, running next to the pilot’s primary flight display (PFD) or multi-function display (essentially in front of the pilot’s right hand). Pressing a switch labeled “Climb” would start the climb checklist. Each item would show up as a one-line display either above the PFD or on the PFD. If the aircraft could figure out that an item had been accomplished, e.g., gear up or flaps up, the item could be displayed with a checkmark next to it. The ribbon would have one additional button labeled “Next” that would sequence the system to the next checklist item.
A pilot could press one always-available button at any time to get to a checklist and then deal with one item at a time.
This is the kind of thing that could be built by a “maker” with perhaps $50 worth of parts, including the Arduino (massive overkill!) to drive it all and a battery for power. Certified and powered from the aircraft? Well… let’s try not to think about that! But I can dream…
Readers: What do you think of this idea? And what maker parts would you actually use if you wanted to build this as a portable device to be taped to an aircraft panel?