JF-17 Thunder – All round view Chapter 4 : JF-17 Thunder’s Cockpit
The man-machine interface of JF-17 Thunder is kept very simple and flexible at the same time too. The cockpit consists of three Multi functional displays (MFDs) supported by a smart Heads Up Display (HUD). The symbology and functionality of the controls is kept very much similar to SAAB’s Gripen aircraft – an aircraft evaluated by PAF in the past. Implementation of HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) is visible in the design. The commonalty of the cockpit helps in decreasing time and training costs thus making a speedy fighter conversion to the aircraft.
A detailed labeled illustration of JF-17 cockpit.
Stick & right auxiliary control panel:
JF-17’s stick with buttons for weapon release (red one), missile override (top right), display management (top-left), countermeasures management (front bottom). Options included on the other side of stick are communication switch, air-to-ground mode selection, trigger, cursor control etc.
The right auxiliary control panel includes various types of sensors information including secondary voice communication panel, avionics power management, aircraft data storage and transfer management, cockpit lights management and HUD management options.
A labeled picture of JF-17’s Integrated Control Panel (ICP), data entry display and Multi Functional Displays (MFD). JF-17’s cockpit has three 6X8 inch wide MFDs. The information displayed on all these MFDs is interchangeable and pilot can easily switch information among them.
JF-17’s Man Machine Interface (MMI) with three MFDs, throttle and stick.
Heads Up Display:
A labeled picture of JF-17’s Heads Up Display (HUD). The symbology and functionality of the controls is kept very much similar to SAAB’s Gripen aircraft.
HUD, Digital video recorder and Cockpit audio recorder:
A close up of front instrumentation panel that includes Smart Heads Up Display(S-HUD), cockpit audio recorder and Airborne Video Tape Recorder (AVTR). The elevated design of this panel also helps in decreasing the sun flare from entering the cockpit.
An AVTR camera is located in the front of the instrumentation panel. AVTR includes a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) which has four video channels and one audio channel. DVR receives videos from MFD, Targeting/Navigation pod and stores it all in a data cartridge capable of storing upto 64GB of data. Later in mission debriefs, this data is discussed and analyzed for further mission planning.
In present day, simulator based training have been widely used around the globe. It not only saves time but also provide much training opportunities to trainee pilots in a simulated real world scenario. In past eight years of JF-17 program, all pilots have used simulator for conversion onto this aircraft. The development of dual seat fighter/trainer version of JF-17 is under discussion too.
A good simulator has to be realistic as much as it can be done. In different stages of pilot training they are asked to wear helmet, oxygen mask, gloves, g-suit etc. Various real life flight emergencies, false alarms on radar and threats are simulated during his training flights. The final stage is the real combat scenario, where he faces enemy, leads a formation, fulfills given objectives in specified time and handles in flight emergencies too.
All of the above mentioned scenarios are performed by the student with no help from the instructor. If he is eligible enough he gets a flight in the real aircraft or his deficiencies are specified, improvements are suggested and he is given another chance to fly simulator again. Failing to meet up with the defined standards means any end of student’s conversion on JF-17 Thunder.
The good thing in JF-17 programme, is that the people who have involved in building the airplane have also documented its operating procedures, lessons and testing procedures too.
JF-17 uses a zero/zero Martin Baker PK-16LE ejection seat. In early 2008, PAF signed a contract with Martin Baker for accusation of 50 PK16LE MK16 zero/zero ejection seats. The Chinese ejection seats (TY-6) of earlier SBP examples (07-101 to 108) were also replaced with PK16LE seats. The response of PK-16LE ejection even at various altitude and immense angles has saved lots of precious lives. In the past, PAF had installed Martin Baker ejection seats in F-6, Mirage, F-7P and F-7PG aircraft as well.
PK-16LE MK16 ejection seat also has an ejection sequencer, which manages the separation time of ejection seat and parachute of the ejectee pilot. The main features of PL-16LE MK16 are the rearward firing headbox, leg restraints and enhanced cushions. Beneath the seat cushions are the pilot’s survival kit which includes a rescue flares, small boat, medicine, food and some other accessories.
The 30 degree inclined seat, gives a 1G tolerance to the pilot. Seen on both sides of ejection seat are the warning notes for the aircraft crew. Words like ‘DANGER – DONOT PULL HANDLE’ are often found on it. Located in its rear are the oxygen cylinders and under it are the rockets that propel the ejection of seat in the air.