From the perspective of a pilot, is there a difference when flying a helicopter with a clockwise turning main rotor vs a counter clockwise turning main rotor?

Would a pilot notice if they flew the exact same helicopter except with an opposite rotation (and obviously all the corresponding mechanics mirrored.)


1 Answer 1


Yes, the pilot would certainly notice the difference.

When the engine applies clockwise torque to the main rotor, the body of the helicopter experiences counterclockwise torque. When the pilot increases collective to increase the amount of lift the main rotor produces, the engine will need to apply more torque to overcome the rotor's increase in drag. Therefore the pilot would have to apply right pedal to prevent the torque from turning the nose of the helicopter left.

If the rotor turned counterclockwise instead, these directions would be inverted. So if the pilot was flying the helicopter with the assumption that the main rotor turns in the opposite direction that it really does, he would tend to apply the wrong pedal and the helicopter would start yawing.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I've flown both. Apart from the pedal reversal and looking at the blades, there are no physical cues that I am aware of. As an aside, there are some circumstances in which the pedal reversal can be potentially dangerous. For example, in entry to auto-rotation, lever down, stick back, right pedal in. Except in a clockwise rotating machine when it needs to be left pedal in. Getting the wrong pedal can quickly lead to an "unusual attitude" which needs rapid correction to avoid a loss of control. A pilot changing from one to other an impulsively reacting with muscle memory might get it wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 17:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .