Page 1 of 1

Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2021 6:52 pm
by convair880mfan
Sometimes when reading Aviation Week and Space Technology Pilot Reports on various aircraft, the writers speak of pull and push forces on the yoke or rudder, for example, x aircraft required a 30 pound push force on the rudder pedals during an engine out landing approach. Those of you who are pilots have first-hand experience with the heaviness or lightness of controls. Which aircraft that you have flown do you consider as requiring heavy control and which, light control. I guess many large aircraft have artificial feel. Thanks for any comments

Some AWST Pilot Reports also refer to the stiffness or lack of stiffness of the tiller and how some types require high breakout forces.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2021 10:44 pm
by Snuffaluffagus
In order of airliners I've flown over the years:

ERJ-145: Handled like a sports car. Loved hand flying it.
ERJ-175: Handled like a dump truck, felt heavy on the controls, especially compared to the 145.
A320: Light on the controls, I enjoyed hand flying it.
737: Heavy on controls but a blast to hand fly. I miss the roomy 320 cockpit, but 737 hand flying slightly helps make up for it.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2021 10:48 pm
by mxaxai
Airbus aircraft (and I believe all FBW aircraft) have an entirely artificial feel, since they lack a mechanical connection to the flight control surfaces. Usually they try to go for low forces to reduce physical exhaustion.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2021 11:49 pm
by Starlionblue
mxaxai wrote:
Airbus aircraft (and I believe all FBW aircraft) have an entirely artificial feel, since they lack a mechanical connection to the flight control surfaces. Usually they try to go for low forces to reduce physical exhaustion.


Airbus doesn't have artificial feel at all and there is no feedback from the flight controls. The stick is spring-loaded so that force increases with deflection. Holding at full deflection takes a fair bit of force, but most manoeuvres require little stick movement. The force gradient is very smooth so it feels quite natural.

If you're becoming physically spent from manipulating the yoke/stick in normal operation, I'd say the flight controls need to be redesigned.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 12:04 am
by mxaxai
Starlionblue wrote:
Airbus doesn't have artificial feel at all and there is no feedback from the flight controls.

Sorry, I didn't mean that they try to feel like mechanical controls, just that whatever you feel is created entirely within the sidestick (or yoke). Whether that is a simple spring-loaded mechanism or some more elaborate artificial feedback emulator.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 12:49 am
by tb727
20/30 series Learjet was pretty light on the roll control, pitch was ok. We had to hand fly them at FL410 all the time with no autopilot and you could just put your finger tips on the bottom of the yoke and elbows on top of your thighs and be comfortable(since there weren't armrests :mad: )

Falcon 20, nice pitch but personally I thought the roll control was a bit tight and the heaviest of any of the jets I have flown. Arthur Q was an automatically adjusting spring load system that gave the hydraulic controls the same feeling at all speeds, from high to low. It felt pretty nice.

727 was great to hand fly, very nicely balanced roll control and pitch was responsive, but not overly so. Can't say enough good stuff about it really. When the flaps started coming out, the spoiler/aileron mixing box was a really amazing piece of engineering.

A320 series, well, you can fly it with a fingertip. I don't particularly enjoy hand flying it for long periods of time, just down low right after takeoff and during approach and landing. It is very nice with the auto trim and feels pretty natural when you aim it through the sky.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 1:02 am
by GalaxyFlyer
mxaxai wrote:
Airbus aircraft (and I believe all FBW aircraft) have an entirely artificial feel, since they lack a mechanical connection to the flight control surfaces. Usually they try to go for low forces to reduce physical exhaustion.


All hydraulically-powered flight controls, non-FBW, have artificial feel systems—bungees, springs, weights—to produce something like mechanical feedback from the surfaces.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 1:32 am
by convair880mfan
GalaxyFlyer, how was the Lockeed C-5 Galaxy. Would be interesting in knowing how the artificial feel was on that great aircraft.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 2:08 am
by 113312
Most modern, and all large planes, have artificial feel. Control forces are also mandated in FAR Part 21 standards.
However, older planes and particularly general aviation types, have different or no such standards. From my experience, the humble Piper Apache had the highest rudder force required with an engine out. Most small trainer types of Cessna and Grumman American were quite light on all controls. Mooneys were heavier on the controls giving them at least a feeling of stability. Bellanca Vikings were very light on the controls. The Beech 18 was very well balanced and light on the controls. The SA-226TC Metro was heavy on the controls and felt like a much larger plane. The F-27 was solid and stable but lighter on the controls. As others have said, the 727 was a delight to fly having hydraulic boosted controls. However, in manual reversion (loss of hydraulics) the controls were very heavy. As others have pointed out, all jumbo jets have only hydraulic flight controls and the forces needed to operate them are all about the same. The only difference I observe in handling a 747 vs. a DC10 is mass, pitch and roll rates.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 2:22 am
by Starlionblue
113312 wrote:
Most modern, and all large planes, have artificial feel. Control forces are also mandated in FAR Part 21 standards.
However, older planes and particularly general aviation types, have different or no such standards. From my experience, the humble Piper Apache had the highest rudder force required with an engine out. Most small trainer types of Cessna and Grumman American were quite light on all controls. Mooneys were heavier on the controls giving them at least a feeling of stability. Bellanca Vikings were very light on the controls. The Beech 18 was very well balanced and light on the controls. The SA-226TC Metro was heavy on the controls and felt like a much larger plane. The F-27 was solid and stable but lighter on the controls. As others have said, the 727 was a delight to fly having hydraulic boosted controls. However, in manual reversion (loss of hydraulics) the controls were very heavy. As others have pointed out, all jumbo jets have only hydraulic flight controls and the forces needed to operate them are all about the same. The only difference I observe in handling a 747 vs. a DC10 is mass, pitch and roll rates.


I'll take your Piper Apache, which was indeed rather demanding with an engine out, and give you the Diamond Da-42 Lycoming Avgas conversion. :D

Very high rudder forces. And if you didn't react to an engine out within 3-4 seconds you'd be rolling to inverted in short order. I suppose converting from 120HP diesels to 180HP avgas engines without any aerodynamic changes might have something to do with the behaviour. Practice one engine approaches and missed approaches with a turn against the working engine were horrific, and of course accounted for a significant portion of the training. I had to put a cushion or two behind my lower back in order to get enough leverage.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 2:39 am
by B6JFKH81
Starlionblue wrote:
mxaxai wrote:
Airbus aircraft (and I believe all FBW aircraft) have an entirely artificial feel, since they lack a mechanical connection to the flight control surfaces. Usually they try to go for low forces to reduce physical exhaustion.


Airbus doesn't have artificial feel at all and there is no feedback from the flight controls. The stick is spring-loaded so that force increases with deflection. Holding at full deflection takes a fair bit of force, but most manoeuvres require little stick movement. The force gradient is very smooth so it feels quite natural.

If you're becoming physically spent from manipulating the yoke/stick in normal operation, I'd say the flight controls need to be redesigned.


I do believe, however, that at least in the A320 the sidestick is connected to the AFU (artificial feel unit) which contains the transducers and dampers and whatnot that you mention, so Airbus does recognize it as Artificial Feel at least in the nomenclature.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 2:44 am
by GalaxyFlyer
convair880mfan wrote:
GalaxyFlyer, how was the Lockeed C-5 Galaxy. Would be interesting in knowing how the artificial feel was on that great aircraft.


Quite light and well balanced between pitch and roll. There was a “power assisted cable system”; like adding power steering to the conventional hydraulics. Roll required a bit of a breakout force, but noticed mostly during AR. Powerful rudder, took a good shove during an engine-out go around, idled outboard for training. Start losing hydraulic systems and things could get exciting.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 3:00 am
by Starlionblue
B6JFKH81 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
mxaxai wrote:
Airbus aircraft (and I believe all FBW aircraft) have an entirely artificial feel, since they lack a mechanical connection to the flight control surfaces. Usually they try to go for low forces to reduce physical exhaustion.


Airbus doesn't have artificial feel at all and there is no feedback from the flight controls. The stick is spring-loaded so that force increases with deflection. Holding at full deflection takes a fair bit of force, but most manoeuvres require little stick movement. The force gradient is very smooth so it feels quite natural.

If you're becoming physically spent from manipulating the yoke/stick in normal operation, I'd say the flight controls need to be redesigned.


I do believe, however, that at least in the A320 the sidestick is connected to the AFU (artificial feel unit) which contains the transducers and dampers and whatnot that you mention, so Airbus does recognize it as Artificial Feel at least in the nomenclature.


The Artificial Feel Unit is for the rudder.

The sidestick is not connected to any artificial feel. It is purely spring-loaded.

Granted, I can only speak for the A330/A350, but I don't see why the A320 should be any different.

Re: Aircraft that are heavy on the controls or light?

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 3:36 am
by B6JFKH81
Starlionblue wrote:
B6JFKH81 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:

Airbus doesn't have artificial feel at all and there is no feedback from the flight controls. The stick is spring-loaded so that force increases with deflection. Holding at full deflection takes a fair bit of force, but most manoeuvres require little stick movement. The force gradient is very smooth so it feels quite natural.

If you're becoming physically spent from manipulating the yoke/stick in normal operation, I'd say the flight controls need to be redesigned.


I do believe, however, that at least in the A320 the sidestick is connected to the AFU (artificial feel unit) which contains the transducers and dampers and whatnot that you mention, so Airbus does recognize it as Artificial Feel at least in the nomenclature.


The Artificial Feel Unit is for the rudder.

The sidestick is not connected to any artificial feel. It is purely spring-loaded.

Granted, I can only speak for the A330/A350, but I don't see why the A320 should be any different.


I'm on my days off so I cannot get into my manuals, but when I get back to SAL to work the A320 HMV lines I'll look up everything to get clarification to give us both definitive answers. I knew you fly the bigger busses which I have not worked so I didn't know if there were differences between the baby busses.