A cockpit or flight deck is the area, usually near the front of an aircraft, from which a pilot controls the aircraft. Most modern cockpits are enclosed, except on some small aircraft, and cockpits on large airliners are also physically separated from the cabin. From the cockpit an aircraft is controlled on the ground and in the air.
Cockpit as a term for the pilot's compartment in an aircraft first appeared in 1914. From about 1935 cockpit also came to be used informally to refer to the driver's seat of a car, especially a high performance one, and this is official terminology in Formula One. The term is most likely related to the sailing term for the coxswain's station in a Royal Navy ship, and later the location of the ship's rudder controls.
The cockpit of an aircraft contains flight instruments on an instrument panel, and the controls which enable the pilot to fly the aircraft. In most airliners, a door separates the cockpit from the passenger compartment. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, all major airlines fortified the cockpit against access by hijackers.
On an airliner, the cockpit is usually referred to as the flight deck. This term derives from its use by the RAF for the separate, upper platform where the pilot and co-pilot sat in large flying boats.