Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) Explained

Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) image download

Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM)

The Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring (ECAM) continuously monitors the aircraft functions and provides information to the flight crew. It also generates messages about any failures and in some cases, lists out procedures to undertake to correct the problem.

Basic Concept of ECAM & History

The basic concept behind the development of ECAM (and other monitoring systems) is to decrease the workload of flight crews by automating monitoring activities. When a problem or failure is noticed, the primary display, together with an audible and visual indication, warns the pilot immediately. It also shows the necessary corrective action as well as suggested actions as a result of the failure. By automating system monitoring, the pilot is free to fly the plane until a problem arises. It was created to reduce pilot stress in unusual and emergency situations by creating a paperless cockpit with rapid access to all procedures.

ECAM is similar to a system used by different manufacturers like Boeing & Embraer, known as the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS), which displays data concerning aircraft systems and also failures. Airbus developed an advanced version of ECAM for use on their A320 aircraft in such a manner that it not only gives features of EICAS, but also displays corrective action to be taken by the flight crew in case of failures/warnings. It also shows system limitations after failures. The color-coded failure scheme aids pilots in quickly evaluating the situation and deciding on the best course of action.

How ECAM Works

The primary components of the ECAM (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring) system are as follows:

2 SDAC (System Data Acquisition Concentrators)

2 FWC (Fault warning Computers)

3 DMC (Display Management Computers)

2 CRT/LCD Monitors

The loss of just one SDAC or one FWC will not result in the loss of ECAM function. All functions can be handled individually by the second SDAC and FWC. The SDACs (System Data Acquisition Concentrators) collect data from sensors and transfer signals to three DMCs (Display Management Computers), which process and output the screen image right away.

The main function of the SDAC (System Data Acquisition Concentrator) is to perform operational assistance for the Flight Crew for normal and abnormal system configuration through visual and aural attention and through the two ECAM display units. The System Data Acquisition Concentrators (SDAC) on the Airbus A320 aircraft ECAM System collect system data from various sensors, process it, and transfer system page data to the three Display Management Computers (DMC) forfurther processing.The DMC immediately processes the input and generates an image.

Functions of ECAM Monitors

Two CRT monitors are used in an ECAM system (older version). These may be LCD in modern aircraft. Depending on the aircraft panel arrangement, information on system status and any alerts related with corrective measures is displayed on the left or top monitor. This is done in the form of a checklist. The right or lower monitor shows system information in a visual manner, such as a diagram of the system referred to on the primary monitor.

Primary Display (Upper DU)

ecam primary display image
Primary Display (Upper DU)

The upper part of the display shows the primary engine parameters (N1/fan speed, EGT, N2/high pressure turbine speed), as well as the fuel flow, Fuel on board, the status of lift augmentation devices like flaps and slat positions, & other information. The Lower part of Primary display shows warning & caution messages when they occur, or MEMO when there is no failure.

Secondary Display (Lower DU)

Secondary Display (Lower DU) image
Secondary Display (Lower DU)

The lower (secondary) ECAM display presents additional information, including that relating to any system malfunction and its consequences, along with the Synoptic diagram systems.

The Lower ECAM has 12 system pages which can be pulled out by selecting associated push buttons. The 12 pages include:

ENGINE (secondary engine parameters)

BLEED (air bleed)

CAB PRESS (cabin pressurization)

ELEC (electric power)

HYD (hydraulic)

FUEL (fuel)

APU (auxiliary power unit)

COND (air conditioning)

DOOR/OXY (doors  /oxygen)

WHEEL (landing gear, braking, ground spoilers, etc.)

F/CTL (flight controls)


The following four buttons are also provided:

STS- (to display the system status, if nothing abnormal, this page will shows "NORMAL".

RCL - (to Recall the warning & Caution msgs)

CLR- (To clear the msgs)

EMER/CANC- ( Cancel the present aural warnings)

TO/,CONFIG - (To check the take off configuration)

Basic Modes of ECAM

The ECAM system has four primary modes: flight phase, advisory, failure related, and manual. Normally, the flying phase mode is employed. Pre-flight, take-off, climb, cruising, descent, approach, and post landing are the stages. As the circumstance necessitates, advisory and failure–related modes will show automatically. The secondary monitor (Lower DU) displays the system schematic with numerical data when the primary monitor (Upper DU) displays an advisory. The failure-related mode, regardless of whether mode is selected at the time of failure, takes precedence over all other modes. Color coding is used on the displays to draw attention to concerns in order of importance.

The manual mode of an ECAM system (which is installed on the centre pedestal) is accessed by pressing one of the synoptic display buttons on the control panel. This enables the presentation of system diagrams. If a failure warning or advice occurs, this view will be cancelled.

Class of Failures

Failures are categorised according to their severity, ranging from level 1 to level 3. When many failures occur at the same time, the most critical failure is displayed first. The following is the warning hierarchy:

Level 3 Failures

Situations that necessitate rapid crew action and put the aircraft in jeopardy are known as red warnings. For instance, a fire in the engine or a loss of cabin pressure. A red master caution light, a warning (red) ECAM message, and a continuous repetitive chime or a distinctive sound or a synthetic voice is used to communicate them. By pressing the master warning push button, the chime can be turned off.

Level 2 Failures

Amber Cautions are Level 2 failures that require crew attention but not quick action. For example, a fuel problem or an air bleed failure. They have no bearing on flight safety and are indicated to the crew by an amber master caution light, an amber ECAM message, and a single chime.

Level 1 Failure

Cautions, failures, and faults that cause a loss of system redundancy must be monitored but do not pose a threat. One example is the disappearance of DMC3 while it is not in use. Only a caution (amber) ECAM message is sent out when a level 1 failure occurs (no aural warning).

There are also the following status messages in addition to the three primary failure levels:

Advisory: Monitoring of system parameters is advised. It brings up the relevant system page on the system display (S/D) automatically. The parameter that is influenced pulses green.

MEMO: Information: Recalls the normal or automatic selection of functions that are only employed for a short period of time. The engine warning display (E/WD) displays a green, amber, or magenta message.

Self-Test of ECAM System

When the ECAM flight warning computers are turned on, they do a self-test. The signal generators are likewise put through their paces. A maintenance panel enables for annunciation testing as well as additional testing on demand. Built-in test equipment is abbreviated as BITE. It is common practise for monitoring systems to keep track of themselves as well as the aircraft's systems. All of the system inputs to the flight warning processors, as well as the inputs and outputs of the system data analogue converter, can be verified for continuity from this panel. Individual system problems will appear as normal on the primary display. On the maintenance panel, faults in the flight warning computers and signal generators will be indicated.

Manufacturer’s guidelines should be always followed for maintenance/testing ECAM and related systems.

ECAM Controls & Switching

ECAM Control PANEL (ECP) image

ECAM controls & Switching logics are so designed that information will be always available in the case of certain failures, Following are the logic for ECAM Control & Switching.


The ECAM Control Panel, installed on the Central pedestal which includes:

E / WD controls, CLR, STS, and the brightness control knob.

SD controls for ENG, BLEED , PRESS, ELEC, HYD, FUEL, APU, COND, DOOR, WHEEL, F/CTL, CRUISE, system page selector, and the brightness control knob.

EIS DMC Switching Selector

This is a switch near the centre of the SWITCHING panel which is located just above the ECAM control panel (ECP). It enables the flight crew to replace the Captain or First Officer's Display Management Computer ( DMC 1, or DMC 2 ) by DMC 3 in case of requirement.

ECAM / ND Switching

The flight crew can transfer the ECAM System Display to either the Captain or First Officer's Navigation Display using this switch on the RH side of the Switching panel.

Reconfiguring of DMC

DMC 1 provides data to the Captain's PFD and ND, as well as the upper ECAM DU, in normal operation.

DMC 2 feeds data to the PFD and ND of the First Officer, as well as the lower ECAM DU.

DMC 3 is always in standby mode. The flight crew can replace DMC 1 or 2 with DMC 3 by setting the EIS DMC switch on the SWITCHING panel to CAPT 3 or F / 0 3 display if a DMC fails (associated DU exhibits a diagonal line).

Reconfiguring DUs


If the upper ECAM display fails or is turned off, the following steps must be taken:

On the lower ECAM DU, the engine / warning page takes the place of the system / status page.

The system / status page can be viewed by the flight crew by moving the ECAM / ND XFR switch on the SWITCHING panel to a navigation display unit.


If the lower ECAM display malfunctions or is turned off, the flight crew can use the " ECAM / ND XFR " switch on the SWITCHING panel to display the system / status page on NDU.

Failure of Both ECAM DUs

If both ECAM displays fail, the flight crew can use the ECAM/ND XFR on the SWITCHING panel to temporarily display the engine / warning page on a navigation display and, if necessary, push and hold the related system page pushbutton on the ECAM control panel (for a maximum of 3 minutes) to temporarily display the system / status page on an ND.

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