EICAS (Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System)

Aircraft · 4 min read · May 20, 2022

Modern aircraft, especially big airliners such as Boeing and Airbus, are very complex machines that make the entire flight crew stay alert to guarantee everything is operating correctly and safely before, during, and after a flight. Therefore, having powerful instrumentation and a crew alerting system such as the EICAS can be of great help and vital for a safe operation.

Are you interested in learning more about EICAS? Keep reading as we disclose the details to you.

What is EICAS?

EICAS stands for Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System. It is usually defined as an aircraft system display to monitor engine parameters and alert the crew in case of any system failure. Since it mainly monitors engine parameters and other aircraft systems, it is sometimes confused with an electronic centralized aircraft monitor (ECAM), but we will explain the difference later on.

Of course, given the most recent technological developments, modern EICAS systems offer high connectivity and better data acquisition.

An EICAS display on an aircraft.
Image source: Anynobody

What is the function of EICAS?

The primary function of the EICAS can be quickly taken from the name Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System. The system displays engine parameters so that the crew can quickly identify any possible damage or failure.

EICAS is usually installed in Boeing, Embraer, and Airbus aircraft. Depending on the aircraft manufacturer and model, the EICAS may display information on other aircraft systems apart from displaying engine parameters. Various engine parameters displayed by EICAS include but are not limited to:

  • Oil pressure
  • Temperature values
  • Rotational speed
  • Fuel flow and fuel quantity

Other systems that can be monitored via EICAS include:

  • Environmental and control surface systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Hydraulic systems

There are three types of information shown on any EICAS system display. Let’s see what they are.

What are the three types of information the EICAS system provides?

The graphical interface of the EICAS is available in three modes, and each mode can be considered a type or group of information provided by the system. These three modes are:

  • Operation
  • Status
  • Maintenance

Operation mode

The operation mode of the EICAS displays operating information of the engine, indicating if it is normal, and any alerts requiring action from the crew are displayed via the crew alerting system. Generally, only the one at the top displays information when there are two displays. The one at the bottom is left to display secondary information selected by the crew when they consider it necessary, often used to show the status of the systems.

Status mode

The second mode found in the EICAS is the status mode. When selected, the EICAS will show a status page where the crew can see data to determine whether the aircraft is ready for dispatch or not. Both the operation mode and the status mode show information related to the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) checklist whenever an action is required.

When active, the status is identified by showing the abbreviation “STS” in white. Also, the display shows the positions of the flight control surfaces in the form of pointers registered against vertical scales, selected sub-system parameters, and equipment status messages on the lower display unit.

The crew usually selects this mode while on the ground, either as part of the pre-flight checks or prior to the shutdown of electrical power. This helps the flight crew enter the required information in the aircraft’s technical log.

Maintenance mode

This mode is usually used on the ground. It provides maintenance engineers with information in five different display formats to help them find any system failures and test major sub-systems to verify there are no system faults.

How are alerts presented on an EICAS display?

The Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting system use a 6-color code to display alerts. Each color represents a level of severity and indicates how the crew should react to the EICAS information. These colors and their meanings are:

  • Red means failure requiring immediate action.
  • Yellow means crew awareness when no immediate action is required.
  • Green indicates an item operating normally.
  • White is used for titles and remarks to guide the crew.
  • Blue is used to identify the actions to be carried out or limitations that must be considered.
  • Magenta is only used for messages that apply to a particular piece of equipment or situation.

Generally, when a failure requires immediate action, a master caution light is illuminated in red, and sometimes a fire bell is added to increase awareness.

A master caution or master warning reset switch is available to turn off the master caution light and the master warning siren after the corresponding action has been taken.

An ECAM display on an Airbus A340-300.
Image source: Trainler

Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM)

As we mentioned before, the EICAS is sometimes confused with the ECAM or Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor. The confusion is typical as the primary purpose is to monitor systems to identify possible system faults and provide possible solutions like the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System or EICAS does.

So, what is the difference then?

What is the difference between EICAS and ECAM?

There are two main differences. The first one is as simple as the fact that EICAS is common in Boeing aircraft while ECAM is more common in Airbus models. Some people say they are the same, but each manufacturer uses its own name.

However, there is another more relevant difference. While screens in EICAS display engine indications and alert messages or warnings, ECAM usually includes the recommended action immediately. This is only seen on an EICAS display when the status mode is selected, but this step is not necessary with ECAM.

Both ECAM and EICAS display essential information to help the crew stay alert and control the most critical aspects of flight operation and safety while reducing human error. Whether making sure they do not run out of fuel or addressing a significant fault. A master warning can be the difference between a safe flight and a potential catastrophe.

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Jet pilot @NASA

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