Helicopter Controls every pilot should know before flying

When we drive a car, there are some basic controls which we have to learn and implement while on road. This include accelerator, clutch, brakes and steering wheel. Except these all other controls and functions we can count as secondary. Similarly, while flying a helicopter there are some basic controls which every pilot must know.

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Fundamental Helicopter Controls Every Pilot Must Know

When it comes to flying a helicopter, the awareness is the key. There is a lot of controls which you have to manage simultaneously, but few of them are the basic ones which every pilot must know. I have briefly discussed these below.

1. The Cyclic Control

In most helicopters, the cyclic control is located between the legs of pilot. It is commonly known as “cyclic stick”. The cyclic is similar to a joystick. However, in a few small helicopters like Robinson series, there is a unique T-bar cyclic control system. A few helicopters have cyclic controls that descend into the cockpit from overhead while others use side cyclic controls.

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This helicopter control is called the cyclic because it can vary the pitch or angle of the rotor blades throughout each revolution of the main rotor system (i.e. through each cycle of rotation) to develop unequal lift (thrust). The result is to tilt the rotor disk in a particular direction, which results in the helicopter moving in that direction.

If the pilot pushes the cyclic forward, the rotor disk tilts forward, and the rotor produces a thrust in the forward direction. If the pilot pushes the cyclic to the side, the rotor disk tilts to that side and produces thrust in that direction, causing the helicopter to hover sideways.

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2. The Collective Pitch Control

The collective pitch control, or collective, is usually located on the left side of the pilot’s seat. It has a pilot-selected variable friction control to prevent unintentional movement.

The collective changes the pitch angle of all the main rotor blades at the same time or collectively and independently of their positions. Therefore, the angle in all the blades change equally on applying collective input. This results in increasing or decreasing total lift or thrust.

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3. Anti-Torque Pedals

This helicopter control makes the helicopter rotate in whatever direction it wants to. These are located in the same position as the rudder-pedals in a fixed-wing aircraft and serve a similar purpose, namely to control the direction in which the nose of the aircraft is pointed.

This is one of the most important helicopter controls which plays a major role while changing the direction of the helicopter during flight.

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Application of the pedal in a given direction changes the pitch angle of the tail rotor blades, which increase or decrease the thrust produced by the tail rotor, causing the nose of helicopter to yaw in the direction of the applied pedal.

4. Throttle

Throttle is similar to the accelerator of a car. The RPM is an important parameter while flying a helicopter. The rotor blades of a helicopter operates at a specific rpm. The throttle controls the RPM or the power produced by the engine. The transmission connects the engine and the main rotor.

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The purpose of the throttle is to maintain enough engine power to keep the rotor rpm within allowable limits to produce enough lift for flight.

In single-engine helicopters, the throttle control is typically a twist grip mounted on the collective control, but it can also be a lever mechanism in fully governed systems. Multi-engine helicopters generally have a power lever or mode switch for each engine.

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