So many questions … I’ll try and answer all of them for you!
Stay with me, I’ve got a lot of good info for you, try and avoid the TL
It is a combination of many factors. Yes, the aircraft is fully redundant fly by wire aircraft with an old school fly by wire cable and pulley back up system in case of a full system failure.
A yoke in the jet would just take up space and is not needed! In comparison, I flew a modified BeechJet 400 and that thing was like fighting with a bear! Many times I’d have to use both hands on the yoke to exert the required up or down force (quickly followed by my instructor yelling at me to trim the jet lol!)
The rumor is that the Chief of Staff at the time of procurement was a big fighter jock and wanted everything to be as ‘fighter oriented’ as possible, and thus the stick!
As for personal preference, I’d love to have a side stick in the jet, as long as they are interconnected and back driven. With the amount of paperwork, studying, etc. that we do while at cruise, having that damn stick in the way can be a pain in the rear! It really doesn’t get in the way of the MFDs but I think we’d all love to have a pull out desk much like Airbus.
Another ‘general officer’s preference’ that made its way into the jet are the knobs for the thrust reversers (once again, all rumor). Take a look at the throttle quadrant of the C-17 and you’ll notice 4 small nobs on top of each individual throttle. Unlike BA
aircraft where you pull the throttles to idle and then use a separate lever for the TRs (assuming…) the TRs in the -17 operate a bit like an Airbus (assuming…). The throttles are brought to idle and there is a ‘hump,’ you have to lift the throttles up and back over the hump to unlock the TRs (and if the electronic engine computers agree with you lol) and can modulate the reverse thrust by bringing the throttles all the way aft. This can actually be a pretty long ‘throw,’ if you are short you end up doing all types of contortions to keep your hand on the stick and reaching aft and down controlling the TRs. Anyway, there was a general who was involved in the flight testing of the jet and he was short; he was unable to reach back and get the throttles all the way back to max reverse so he had MD
put in the little knobs on top of the throttles.
Well that checks with pilot rumor!
And yes, continuing with earlier posts, the stick pivots fore and aft at the floor of the aircraft and moves left and right just below the stick grip.
Still got piano wire in our jet!
Regarding pilot training and jet swapping – I went from the T-6 (stick flown with the right hand, throttle (actually called the PCL
, power control lever)) to the T-1 initially flown from the left seat (yoke with the left hand and throttles with the right hand) and flew a couple sorties in the right seat (swapping again) and then to the -17 where all pilots are qualified to fly from either seat (you’ll routinely see a new copilot fly from the left seat, great for pilot development to have a 1 Lt in the left seat running the show with a Lt Col in the right seat being a co-pilot). I honestly have no idea why the fighter jocks were complaining about in the initial development of the jet…
An aside – in the C-17 your job is dictated by your crew position, not by where you sit. You will be coded as either the aircraft commander (civilian ‘captain’) or as a senior copilot (acts as the AC
when the coded AC
is in the rack or otherwise away from the controls) and a junior copilot who is learning the jet and the mission. And yes, copilots are allowed to take off and land the jet, I’ve surprisingly been asked that question before. However, to further complicate the situation to the non-initiated, in the jet checklists are called for by the pilot flying and accomplished by the pilot monitoring which is separate from where you are sitting (either the pilot or copilot seat). In this instance, you will often hear the aircraft commander calling out “copilot” to challenge and response items. Clear as mud?
The throttles are back driven as is the stick (the sticks are also interconnected). +1 for cues for pilot awareness! I love being able to see what the throttles are doing – sometimes I have no idea what the hell George is doing/thinking and have to baby the throttles to get the jet to do as I please (usually unnecessary throttle jockeying during turbulence, etc.) Full disclosure, I have never flown any Airbus jet so far so I only have MD
to reference in their flight controls, flight laws, cockpit layout etc so I AM
NOT putting down AB
and their flight control theory.
When it absolutely positively has to be there ... at some point.