Fixation, or staring at one instrument, is a common error observed in pilots first learning to utilize trend indicators. The pilot may initially fixate on the trend indicator and make adjustments with reference to that alone. Trend indicators are not the only tools to aid the pilot in maintaining the desired power or attitude; they should be used in conjunction with the primary and supporting instruments in order to better manage the flight. With the introduction of airspeed tapes, the pilot can monitor airspeed to within one knot. Fixation can lead to attempting to keep the airspeed to an unnecessarily tight tolerance. There is no need to hold airspeed to within one knot; the Instrument Rating Practical Test Standards (PTS) allows greater latitude.


Another common error associated with attitude instrument flying is omission of an instrument from the cross-check. Due to the high reliability of the PFD and associated components, pilots tend to omit the stand-by instruments as well as the magnetic compass from their scans. An additional reason for the omission is the position of the stand-by instruments. Pilots should continue to monitor the stand-by instruments in order to detect failures within those systems. One of the most commonly omitted instruments from the scan is the slip/skid indicator.


In initial training, placing emphasis on a single instrument is very common and can become a habit if not corrected. When the importance of a single instrument is elevated above another, the pilot begins to rely solely on that instrument for guidance. When rolling out of a 180° turn, the attitude indicator, heading indicator, slip/skid indicator, and altimeter need to be referenced. If a pilot omits the slip/skid indicator, coordination is sacrificed.