northseatiger
Posts: 426
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Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Wed Jul 07, 2004 12:51 am

Does anyone know why P1 fixed wing is on the left and P1 rotary wing is on the right ?. Is it to make the pilots access to cockpit easier i.e no collective to climb over ? or was it due to pilot training and scince l/h = captain the traing pilot sat in r/h then became P1 as he was handling pilot ??.
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HAL
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Wed Jul 07, 2004 2:25 am

Helicopter pilots have two controls, the collective and cyclic. The collective can be released for short periods of time, but unless the copter has an autopilot, they should never let go of the cyclic. Also, at some point the helicopter pilot will need to touch other things - radios, switches, etc. Therefore it is best to use the hand that controlls the collective to also do the other switches. Since most helicopters have the radios in the center, the collective should also be in the center. Most pilots prefer using the right hand for the cyclic which ends up putting the pilot position in helicopters in the right seat. Because of all this most helicopter companies have put the primary pilot instruments on the right side, making it the de-facto pilot position.

HAL
One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
 
LimaFoxTango
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Wed Jul 07, 2004 2:45 am

i believe (and i stand to be corrected) that the reason why captains sit it left seats in fixed wing aircraft is that in the early days, most pilots were right handed. the right hand is used to move the throttles, switches and soo forth. i have also heard that the reason captains sit in left seats is because of the old way sea captains were situated in ships. as said above, i stand to be corrected.

the reasoning that HAL gave seems like a common sense reason.
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northseatiger
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Wed Jul 07, 2004 9:14 am

cheers !! Iam a helicopter engineer so know the ins and outs of the controls, I have heard so many tales of why P1 is on the right I was looking for a definitave answer. Cheers too those who replied
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nycfuturepilot
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Wed Jul 07, 2004 9:40 am

I went on Liberty Helecopters new Eurocopter and the Captain (only pilot on board) sat on the left.
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WrenchBender
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Wed Jul 07, 2004 9:47 pm

The reason given in Canadian Military Tech School is - if Tail Rotor authority is lost the Helicopter will spin to the right therefore the pilot (P1) sits in the right seat so he can try and spot a place to land as he spins in. Also as most Helo's have the Hoist on the right he has visibility of hoisting evolutions as well.

WrenchBender
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northseatiger
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Wed Jul 07, 2004 11:00 pm

The direction the helicopter would spin would depend on the direction of the main rotor, American helicopters tend to be anti-clockwise whilst european are clockwise, so american would spin to right, european to left.
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SlamClick
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Thu Jul 08, 2004 1:12 am

I am going to weigh in with HAL on this one. That is what the US Army was teaching mechanics and pilots alike at Fort Rucker during the years that I was there. It exactly matches my experience in flying early model Bell-47 and Hiller-12 helicopters. It was less critical in the Huey which had electric force trim, and properly rigged, did not even need that. You could let go of the cyclic on a well-rigged Huey for five or ten seconds needed to change a radio channel or something.

Some small helicopters had lateral weight and balance issues and need the pilot, when alone, to sit on the left.

As for fixed-wing, I just don't know. Not tradition. Captain of a ship claimed the windward side of the quarterdeck. Position of honor in western military is on the right. Stagecoach driver sat on the right, with the brake pedal. Shotgun rode on the left. Fighter pilots belong on centerline! Just don't know.


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citation501sp
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Thu Jul 08, 2004 2:08 am

An old tale in aviation goes something like this.

The first group of Us Army Helio pilots ( Sikorsky R-4 days, early 1940's) learned to fly in the Left seat just as in fixed wing aircraft. Since this is all they knew and the military demanded pilots, These piltos became the first instructors so they naturally taught the students to fly from the right seat.

Don't know how much truth there is to this but I have heard it form many "Experienced" Egg beater pilots.
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HaveBlue
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Thu Jul 08, 2004 2:59 am

SlamClick,

What years were you at Ft.Rucker, if you don't mind me asking? When my dad came back from Nam, he was an instructer pilot there. 1969-1972, and I was born there, on base, in 1971. Just curious if maybe you guys were there at the same time.

As a fixed wing pilot I've often wondered why the left for us and the right for helo's. HAL's explanation is the first one I've ever seen that made sense. I like it  Smile
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SlamClick
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Thu Jul 08, 2004 8:43 am

Hey HaveBlue I was at Rucker off and on from summer of 1965 through spring of 1970. In between, tours in Vietnam, Central America, left active duty, joined National Guard went back for RWQC (rotary wing qual) Lots of memories make Fort Rucker an important place in my life. Not all the memories were good.

Last time at Rucker in 1997 for a 30-year reunion of my flight school class. One of my friends at this airline was in that class with me, in fact we were friends before we got into pilot training.

You were lucky, if that is the word, to have been born on base. I heard in the late '60s from married friends that the maternity waiting list at the base hospital was ten months. Talk about planned parenthood!

I check eBay from time to time for vietnam vintage postcards from Fort Rucker. I was in one of them, standing on the engine deck of a Huey.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
QantasA332
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Thu Jul 08, 2004 11:02 am

In regards to the pilot location for helicopters, this sheds some light on the matter. Still, there are many theories and a definite explanation probably doesn't exist...

Cheers,
QantasA332
 
HaveBlue
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Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2004 3:01 pm

RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Thu Jul 08, 2004 12:31 pm

SlamClick, you didn't happen to know one Ken Biggs, formerly of the 335th AHB Cowboys did you?

Very interesting flying history from what little I know of you. Of the choppers you flew, I'd be curious as to what your favorite was. My father of course loves the Huey, thought the R-22 was very squirrely, always admired the Hughes 500/OH-6/Loach for its manueverability though he never flew it. He currently still works part time for a company doing maintance test flights and miscellaneous duties as a UH-1/Bell 204,205 pilot, and logging in Sikorsky S-61's in the NorthWest.
Here Here for Severe Clear!
 
Buzz
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Thu Jul 08, 2004 7:03 pm

Hi Northseatiger, Buzz here. I'm going to take Wrench Bender's story. Dad spent quite a few years with the US Navy flying Helos (SH-34's and SH-3's) and his explaination was similar to Wrench Bender's: If you have to auto-rotate to a landing (in the days before turbine power helicopters), you get a noticable amount more lift making Right turns to land than Left turns. And if you're already sitting on the right side of the cockpit, you don't have to look outside as far - across the cockpit.
g'nite
 
SlamClick
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RE: Pilot Positions Helicopter Vs Fixed Wing

Fri Jul 09, 2004 12:36 am

Okay, I read the explanation linked by QantasA332 in Reply 11, and it poses an interesting point.

If, on early helicopters there was one collective between the pilot seats it is easy to see why the right seat quickly became favored.

The collective has a twistgrip throttle, similar to a motorcycle throttle at the top end. If you hold the collective in the left hand and "pull pitch" you perform a motion similar to picking up a heavy bucket. This is natural. As you lift you rotate your knuckles inward toward the body. On an older, underpowered helicopter this is needed to make it take off. Pulling upward on the collective lever increases pitch in all main rotor blades (collectively) loading them up and making the helo struggle skyward. Rotating the twistgrip throttle in that direction adds power to the engine which will be needed to keep the rotor RPM from bleeding off as the load increases.

Performing this simple action with the right hand would be very uncomfortable and awkward. Try it. Sitting in your chair, pretend you are lifting a heavy bucket with your right hand. But as you lift you must also roll on throttle and that requires that you bend your hand backwards - very uncomfortable.

Could it be that simple - that an early prototype helicopter just had one collective lever between the seats and that it was easier and more comfortable to operate the collective from the right seat?

I just do not believe that the design criteria was biased to tailrotor failure. That is an event so unlikely that of the hundreds of helicopter pilots I have known, having hundreds of years experience between them, only one has experienced it, and he wound up in a wheelchair because under the circumstances he had so little control over the aircraft that he was not even able to arrest the descent, much less pick a place to land. That is just a fairy tale.

As for the winch being on that side; just does not make sense. We install the secondary accessories to make them convenient, we do not design the whole vehicle around some accessory that you use occasionally.

My opinion. Can't prove a thing.

One last wild theory. American helicopters have main rotors that rotate counter-clockwise as viewed from above. If the rotor RPM and diameter are such that the blade tip speed is 300 knots, and you are doing 50 knots forward, then the advancing blade (on the right side) is doing 350K and the retreating blade is only doing 250 knots. Indeed, on the left side, from the hub out to a certain point, the airflow over the blade is from trailing edge to leading edge - backwards. Thus the right side of the rotor disc is automatically producing more lift at any time in forward flight. If you have the pilot seated on that side you have less roll tendency to damp out with the blade pitch control linkage/swashplate rigging. Since the helo always has at least a pilot aboard, put him on the right side.

HaveBlue no, sorry I did not. Knew flight surgeon Biggs, and Biggs AAF.
Favorite: The Huey. Taught crewchief/doorgunners in it. Then later flew UH-1D and H. Wonderful machine. Lots of power. Light, smooth, accurate flight controls. Grateful that I had the opportunity to fly it. It is a classic aircraft to be compared seriously with the DC-3 or the P-51 or the Cub or the Spitfire. Classic!


Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.

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