How Are EICAS and ECAM Systems Used on Aircraft?

The Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) and Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) are electronic systems in modern airliners that monitor various aircraft systems, such as the hydraulics, avionics, and fuel, and alert the pilots when a problem is detected. Additionally, these systems can assist pilots by displaying relevant checklists for addressing the detected malfunction. While both systems accomplish the same task, ECAM are used on Airbus aircraft, while EICAS are used on Boeing 737, 777, and 787, as well as on Embraer and Canadair aircraft. For more information about these two systems, read on as we discuss their use on modern planes.

What Are ECAM and EICAS Used For?

Both ECAM and EICAS are used during normal operation to display relevant information to the pilots on the screens in the cockpit. The information displayed includes data about the engine such as fuel flow, vibration, and more, alongside measurements such as Outside Air Temperature (OAT) and aircraft configuration. Both systems continually monitor the various aircraft systems and will alert the pilot of any issues, as well as give a checklist of the tasks that must be done to respond to the problem. This capability is sourced from information in the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH), which is a book containing written checklists for handling certain conditions and instrument failures. This book can be found in the cockpit as well, as a safeguard in case the ECAM or EICAS are unavailable or not suited to a situation which differs from the normal conditions, such as an overweight landing.

How Is ECAM and EICAS Information Presented to the Crew?

On Airbus aircraft, the upper portion of the screen is typically reserved for displaying engine parameters as well as flap positions and relevant memos. Conversely, the lower screen shows the System Display (SD) which allows pilots to cycle through each of the relevant aircraft systems. More than that, the SD screen can also display the Status (STS) screen which summarizes any equipment failures or systems detected to be inoperative. The System Display on Airbus aircraft can be navigated to show the following systems:

  •      Engine
  •      Bleed
  •      Pressurization
  •      Electrical-AC
  •      Electrical-DC
  •      Hydraulics
  •      Circuit Breakers
  •      Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
  •      Conditioning
  •      Doors
  •      Wheels
  •      Flight Controls
  •      Fuel

What Are ECAM Memos?

During a regular flight, several different memos will be presented on the display screen. The type of information presented in these memos will depend on the phase of flight. For example, the before-takeoff “ECAM memo” is checked to ensure that the aircraft is correctly configured for takeoff. These preparations might include that the auto-break is set on max, and that the flaps and spoilers are in the correct position.


In the early days of commercial aviation, pilots had to manually check each system periodically to ensure their safe and effective working on the aircraft. Now, electronic systems such as ECAM and EICAS have made this process much simpler and with less manual effort for all involved. As a result, pilots and their crew can much more easily check each of the systems onboard. Additionally, these systems not only alert the pilots of system failures but also present them with a quick checklist of ways to address the issue.

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