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Airbus Sidestick Question  
User currently offlinenipoel123 From Netherlands, joined Jan 2011, 261 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 5693 times:

How difficult is it for right-handed Captains, or left-handed F/Os to fly an Airbus using it's sidesticks?

I have been thinking about this for a while now, and got to the conclusion that it would have minimal impact. Since most aircraft (GA especially) are flown from the left seat, with the right hand 'dedicated' to the throttle, I suppose you get used to flying with your left hand, even if you're right handed. But is a yoke very different from a sidestick in this respect?

Looking for your opinions, especially experience backed ones.


one mile of road leads to nowhere, one mile of runway leads to anywhere
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineTWA772LR From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 1164 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 5683 times:

Well, for example, if an FO is in control of the throttles on a Boeing, he would still be controlling the yoke with his right hand with his left hand on the quadrant. So I guess that is the same principle. It would also be the same for the Captain in that regard.

I have also heard of Airbus pilots switching seats because of a right-handed captain and a left-handed FO.

Slightly OT but are the sticks on aircraft with the sticks between the legs made for right-handed people or are they ambidextrous? I'm pretty sure the F-15 has a right-handed stick.



Я говорю по-русский. :)
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 5630 times:

This comes up regularly on this board. It doesn't take much adjustment. While precision is required, the tolerances are well within the capabilities of the off-hand.


Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 1):
Slightly OT but are the sticks on aircraft with the sticks between the legs made for right-handed people or are they ambidextrous? I'm pretty sure the F-15 has a right-handed stick.

Typically on modern fighters you'd have lots of buttons on stick and throttle, for guns, trim, missiles, annihilator rays and so forth. Given the positioning and number of the buttons it is not practical to make the ambidextrous. So they are right hand on stick and left hand on throttle.

See here for the F-16 HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) setup.

http://www.f-16.net/attachments/f_16_hotas_001_925.jpg

Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 1):
Well, for example, if an FO is in control of the throttles on a Boeing, he would still be controlling the yoke with his right hand with his left hand on the quadrant. So I guess that is the same principle. It would also be the same for the Captain in that regard.

Exactly. The captain always flies with the left, unless he's been flying a 152 without autopilot for hours and he wants to give his left hand a break.  

Frankly the yoke on modern Boeings is more tradition than necessity. If you were flying a DC-6, you'd have to muscle the thing, and two hands could be quite handy in some situations. On 777 the control are fully assisted and you should never need both hands. Tom can jump in now and tell me that "actually..."  



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineroswell41 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 765 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 5452 times:

I have never known that to be a problem. Part of being a professional pilot is to be able to adjust to flying from either seat as required. At my airline, all new hires fly from both seats in training, however, only fly from the right seat once out flying the line. In fact, new hires have to learn operating procedures and flows applicable for each seat prior to taking their new hire check ride.

User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2757 posts, RR: 45
Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 5392 times:

I am right handed.

In the left seat of the A-320 I fly with my left hand using the SSC, just like I have used my left hand on the yoke to fly the DC-9, MD-80, 727, 757, 767, 744, and L-1011.

It is a non-issue, though this topic regurally recurs and some people seem not to believe those of us who actually fly the plane for a living for reasons wholly unknown to me.


User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4163 posts, RR: 76
Reply 5, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 5295 times:
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Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 1):
I have also heard of Airbus pilots switching seats because of a right-handed captain and a left-handed FO.

That, I have to confess is new to me in the "anti 'Bus idiocies" I've had the honour to read.
There are many reasons why it's a load of twaddle : among them is that left-hand seat is the captain's seat and only him or captains in training have a right to be there...



Contrail designer
User currently offlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9401 posts, RR: 27
Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 5221 times:
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Quoting nipoel123 (Thread starter):

Haven't flown an airplane, except for a C172 once, but I'm right handed, but generally steer my car with my left hand, since it's a manual transmission. I'm perfectly comfortable steering with either hand.

I don't see why handling a yoke/sidestick would be much different. Handling the yoke of the C172 felt perfectly normal, and not much different from a steering wheel. Certainly didn't spare it a second thought.



"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
User currently offlinestrfyr51 From United States of America, joined Apr 2012, 792 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 5148 times:
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I work with Pilots on the Airbus every day as a controller and the MOST i've had a a problem with the SSTK either capt's or Fo's is the Mic button on the Stick itself. I nearly 5 years the only reason's we've even messed with the things are that the Boot got a hole in it or the mic switch went out. It's Very Rare to change one other than for losing a pitch or roll transducer signal to the ELAC. I've heard of pilots not being able to fly with them But none that I've ever talked to on a daily basis and I speak to at least 20 per shift for one thing or another.

User currently offlineJetlagged From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 24
Reply 8, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 5140 times:

Operating the flight controls does not require great manual dexterity. So handedness doesn't come into it. Unless you are so one handed that your other hand is effectively useless. In which unlikely case you probably won't have been able to get your private pilot's licence, let alone an ATPL.


The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
User currently offlinenipoel123 From Netherlands, joined Jan 2011, 261 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5004 times:

Thanks all for your replies!

I suspected there wouldn't be much to it, but it's good to see it confirmed.

I also fly a PA38, and haven't noticed any problems flying in the left seat. On my computer joystick, however (when I still had one), I had a preference for using my right hand, rather than my left, although I tried both. So I thought there might have been a difference in the yoke vs. sidestick, rather than flying in general with your left or right hand.

Once again, thanks for your replies



one mile of road leads to nowhere, one mile of runway leads to anywhere
User currently offlineMrCazzy From United States of America, joined Oct 2011, 35 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4882 times:

When you think of it a lot of these pilots were probably once flight instructors. They would have to adjust to the opposite hand positioning. To adjust would just take some time and practice.

User currently offlineSAAFNAV From South Africa, joined Mar 2010, 254 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4871 times:

In the few types I've flown, which are both yoke and conventional stick, I've noticed that when you fly with a yoke with your left hand, it feels totally natural. But if you fly with a conventional stick with you left hand, it just feels odd.

There is probably no physical reason for it, except for your muscle memory.

I assume in an Airbus is comes naturally quite easy?

Erich



On-board Direction Consultant
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7345 posts, RR: 32
Reply 12, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4864 times:

I haven't, and never will, fly something as big as an Airbus with a sidestick.

However, being right handed - I vastly prefer to be in the left seat where I can use my left hand to fly, and my right hand for all the detail tasks such as radio tuning, trim, holding and making notes on paper/ approach plates, etc.

I actually prefer flying with a stick in my left hand to a yoke. Just find it more natural.

For a right handed person, having to use a person's left hand to fly is about the same handicap for a pilot as driving a left-side drive car and having to use the left hand on the wheel while adjusting the radio, using a cell phone, etc.

The single hardest thing I've ever had to get used to doing with my left hand was after I broke my right thumb and involved toilet paper.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 4):
It is a non-issue, though this topic regurally recurs and some people seem not to believe those of us who actually fly the plane for a living for reasons wholly unknown to me.

I don't think non-pilots understand that from nearly the first day of training, you are using your left hand on the stick/ yoke and use your right hand for other tasks in an aircraft.

Personally, I have no where near the number of hours of an airline pilot, but I find flying in the right seat and having to use my right hand on the controls and left hand for all the detailed fine control tasks more difficult.

[Edited 2013-03-02 10:56:30]

User currently offlineneutrino From Singapore, joined May 2012, 588 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 4616 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 12):
The single hardest thing I've ever had to get used to doing with my left hand was after I broke my right thumb and involved toilet paper.

Did you make a mess of "those things"?  



Potestatem obscuri lateris nescitis
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 14, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4495 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 12):
I haven't, and never will, fly something as big as an Airbus with a sidestick.

However, being right handed - I vastly prefer to be in the left seat where I can use my left hand to fly, and my right hand for all the detail tasks such as radio tuning, trim, holding and making notes on paper/ approach plates, etc.

I actually prefer flying with a stick in my left hand to a yoke. Just find it more natural.

For a right handed person, having to use a person's left hand to fly is about the same handicap for a pilot as driving a left-side drive car and having to use the left hand on the wheel while adjusting the radio, using a cell phone, etc.

Agreed that writing and radio tuning with the right are way easier if you are right handed.

However things are different in a light prop and an airliner. In an airliner the autopilot is on a lot so even as PF you will have both hands free much of the time. And more importantly in a two crew cockpit the PM does the radio tuning, FMS fiddling and note taking so the PF need not take his hand off the stick/yoke.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineJetlagged From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 24
Reply 15, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 4445 times:

Quoting MrCazzy (Reply 10):
When you think of it a lot of these pilots were probably once flight instructors. They would have to adjust to the opposite hand positioning. To adjust would just take some time and practice.

All captains were once F/Os and so have flown from the right seat then switched to the left. During their simulator conversion training they will probably have spent as much time in the left seat as the right. But it doesn't take any time or practice to switch sides.



The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
User currently offlinehivue From United States of America, joined Feb 2013, 922 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 4377 times:

Quoting Pihero (Reply 5):
left-hand seat is the captain's seat and only him or captains in training have a right to be there...

I think this issue came up in AF447 -- the pilot with the most time in the A330 was the FO relief pilot sitting in the left seat and he wasn't authorized to fly the plane from there (though he did at the end).


User currently offlineecbomberman From Hong Kong, joined Mar 2011, 75 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 4272 times:

Not to mean to hijack this thread, but there has been an incident where, I quote in an AAIB report 'One possible explanation is that there was momentary confusion between the actions of his left and right hands.'

So there might (although may I say rare) be instances that there may be confusion.

This is the thread that I started:
Airbus Sidestick Dual Input Question (by ecbomberman Mar 3 2013 in Tech Ops)



VS343/346/744 CX744/L1101/343 MH332/333/733 BD32x/EMB 145 AK320 SQ310/77E/773/744 UA747SP/744 BA744 BI763ER/319 QF763ER
User currently offlineJetlagged From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 24
Reply 18, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 4116 times:

Yes, I'd seen that thread and read the report, very interesting reading. I didn't post there as I'm not an Airbus pilot.

Thrust levers: two shiny levers with cylindrical handles which stay where they are put, held with the hand horizontal.
Sidestick: one heavily spring loaded pistol grip, held with the hand vertical.

It's hard to see how these controls could be confused, even momentarily. They move differently, hand position is different and they feel completely different. However there seems no other explanation for the complete reversal of required actions, albeit in a stressful situation.



The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
User currently offlineecbomberman From Hong Kong, joined Mar 2011, 75 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4090 times:

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 18):

I think my conclusion is down to muscle memory. Just my personal opinion.

I'm not a pilot, but a keen enthusiast, but the nearest thing that I can think of that would cause similar 'muscle memory' is the indicator lights/windshield wipers switch in Japanese/European cars.

I have the luxury of driving an European car in Asia and the indicator light is on the left. Then I drove a Japanese car for fun and the indicator light is on the right. As a result, I had several embarrassing moments where I turned on the windshield wiper.

It may be a totally different situation that the pilot may be facing at that time but I do think that muscle memory MAY be a contributory factor.



VS343/346/744 CX744/L1101/343 MH332/333/733 BD32x/EMB 145 AK320 SQ310/77E/773/744 UA747SP/744 BA744 BI763ER/319 QF763ER
User currently offlineajd1992 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 3790 times:

I'm not a pilot but here's my input:

I'm left handed (very dominant too). I use a computer mouse right handed and a joystick right handed, but drive a car with my left hand (in a right hand drive car). I change gear with my left too (obviously! ) but I have no issue driving with my right too.

In short, what hand you use most is irrelevant. You just have to adapt to each situation.


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