All aircraft, including sailplanes, make use of different instrumentation to determine some form of flying characteristic. A pitot-static system is a system of pressure-sensitive instruments that is most often used in aviation to determine an aircraft’s airspeed, altitude and altitude trend. A pitot-static system generally consists of a pitot tube, a static port and the pitot-static instruments.
A variometer is connected directly to the atmosphere using a total energy probe. The design of the total energy probe enables it to compensate for changes that do not involve the detection of rising and sinking air. The probe is mostly positioned away from the aircraft body and surrounding surfaces to ensure measurements are taken in free stream air unaffected by the presence of flying surfaces. The pilot can determine the strength and stability of a thermal by observing the movement of the variometer indicator (Brandes, 1975; FAA, 2013; Nicks, 1976; Reid, 2009a).
It is for this reason that the pitot-static and total energy instruments need to be of a high and reliable quality, with fine manufacturing tolerances to ensure its accuracy.
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