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I'm having trouble trying to imagine the primary flight controls in the cockpit of a tiltrotor aircraft - how would one design it?

In an airplane, turning the wheel to the left would always deflect the ailerons (even when the plane is stationary!), while in a helicopter moving the stick to the left would always tilt the rotor disc. However in a tiltrotor neither is true - not to mention, we need to control the aircraft when it is transitioning between hover and cruising state!

So, just exactly how does one pilot a tiltrotor aircraft?

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  • $\begingroup$ With a bit of practice. $\endgroup$ – Sean Jan 12 at 23:21
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This video explains it nicely starting at about 1:20 in.

Also see here.

This is a pretty interesting article on flying it as well. It really seems to depend on mode but its summarized here nicely,

Climbing into the front seats of the Osprey definitely does not produce the most graceful entrance: it requires some contorting around the armrest, center console and overhead panel. The cockpit is dominated by four night-vision-goggle-compatible, six-inch-square multi-function displays that allow access to flight, navigation and system information. Mechanical flight controls consist of a center control stick, thrust control lever (TCL) and rudder pedals. The control stick functions as cyclic control while in conversion and helicopter modes, but steadily fades into a traditional airplane control stick as the nacelles transition to airplane mode.

The TCL moves fore and aft just like an airplane throttle, unlike a helicopter collective. It does operate as a collective control, however, and becomes a traditional throttle during the transition. While this may seem counter-intuitive to helicopter pilots, it actually makes a lot of sense, because regardless of the mode of flight, youre always doing the same thing: controlling the thrust vector. Forward on the TCL in helicopter mode is the same as raising the collective in a helicopter, and vice versa. The first couple of hours for helicopter pilots transitioning to the Osprey highlight a bit of collective dyslexia, but very quickly it never becomes a further problem. A spring-loaded, knurled rotary knob on the TCL that lies in contact with the pilots left thumb controls the nacelles. Roll the thumbwheel aft and the nacelles rotate to the vertical, roll it forward and the nacelles continue to the downstops. The controls follow the hands on throttle and stick, or HOTAS, concept, and have all the controls necessary on them to control multiple systems on the airplane.

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