Re: Airbus sidestick

From: (Robert Dorsett)
Organization: Netcom Online Communications Services (408-241-9760 login: guest)
Date:         05 May 95 13:42:01 
References:   1
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In article <airliners.1995.557@ohare.Chicago.COM> (Ian Furlonger) writes:
>Are any pilots out there prepared to comment on the ergonomics of the
>Airbus "sidestick", as opposed to the traditional control column?

The sidestick relays no control forces.  It uses non-linear springs to provide
the "illusion" of forces.  Thus, a full-back deflection meets about as much
resistance on the ground as it would if the airplane were flying at Vmo.

The Airbus design is also not interconnected.  Thus, the other pilot does not
feel what the other pilot is up to.  The inputs are algebraically added: if
one pilot pulls left, and the other pulls right, the net result is zero, and
you fly in a straight line.

There is a horrfyingly kludgy method of override switches and "take-over"
lights to show which pilot is trying to assert itself.

Note that this is just how Airbus decided to do it.  Sidesticks as a technol-
ogy are not restricted to these design decisions.

Control-column designs, for their "space" problems, do provide an artificial
sense of feel, representative of what the airplane is doing in a specified

>When learning to fly a Piper Tomahawk, my instructor advised me only to use
>the left hand on the control column, thus leaving the right hand free for
>all the central controls. But I would still ask whether an Airbus captain
>might be disadvantaged by being restricted to the use of his left hand for
>controlling the aircraft upon landing...

Your assumption is flawed.

Despite the "horn" design of control columns, the captain controls with his
left hand, the F/O with his right.  The other hand is free for use with the
throttle.  The control forces are not so considerable that one hand would be
insufficient to control the airplane through most flight regimes.

Robert Dorsett                         Moderator, sci.aeronautics.simulation