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A multi-function display (MFD) (part of multi function structures) is a small screen (CRT or LCD) in an aircraft surrounded by multiple buttons that can be used to display information to the pilot in numerous configurable ways. Often an MFD will be used in concert with a primary flight display. MFDs are part of the digital era of modern planes or helicopter. The first MFD were introduced by air forces. The advantage of an MFD over analog display is that an MFD does not consume much space in the cockpit. For example the cockpit of RAH-66 "Comanche" does not have analog dials or gauges at all. All information is displayed on the MFD pages. The possible MFD pages could differ for every plane, complementing their abilities (in combat).
MFDs were added to the Space Shuttle (as the glass cockpit) starting in 1998 replacing the analog instruments and CRTs. The information being displayed is similar, and the glass cockpit was first flown on the STS-101 mission.
In modern automotive technology, MFDs are used in cars to display navigation, entertainment and vehicle status information.
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