The following three posts explain that both yokes and side-sticks require changing the hand that holds the yoke/side-stick when switching seats:

I can imagine at least some difficulty for a newly promoted captain having to essentially re-learn everything (handling wise) from the left seat after logging thousands of hours from the right seat (regardless of the dominant hand).

So, what are the minimum qualifications for progression from right to left seat when it comes to handling the plane? Is there extra training involved? Does a left seat pilot hold extra qualifications for handling the plane?

Or is this a non-factor?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Not exactly dupes but you may find what you are looking for here and here $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Feb 26, 2019 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Dave thanks, I had read both of those -- perhaps it's a non-factor, but curious if there were actual minimum quals involved. $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    Feb 26, 2019 at 16:31
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The qualifications will depend on the country and the airline. And switching hands isn't specific to Airbus, see here. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Feb 26, 2019 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ Moving to the left seat of almost any aircraft involves the transition from flying with right hand on the yoke & left hand on the throttles to now flying with the right hand on the throttles & the left hand on the yoke. The Airbus only differs in that that outboard hand is on a sidestick instead of on a yoke. After a few hours of getting used to flying with your other hand, it's no big deal. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Feb 26, 2019 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ Why have you limited it to side-sticks? The three linked posts show that yokes are no different, and equally require switching hands (because the thrust levers of almost all planes are in the middle). From your edit I kind of understand how you want to differentiate the question, but limiting it to side sticks shows a misunderstanding (which has been already addressed). That might get in the way. I'll offer an edit suggestion by revising your question, when I'm done please check that it is okay with you. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Feb 27, 2019 at 20:29

3 Answers 3


No, it is a non-factor, although in the Navy there are aircraft you only conduct carrier landings from in the left seat. To be qualified as an instructor in that aircraft, you have to demonstrate the ability to fly the same pattern from the right seat (but not actually land on the carrier).

I'll tell a story about switching hands. I was an LSO (landing signal officer) for E-2s, which had yokes and a central throttle quadrant. You always flew the carrier approaches from the left seat, though.

We had a pilot who had developed bad habits in the landing pattern. To break him of it, I had him fly the landing pattern from the right seat at the field, which just plain felt awkward since you never did it at the boat. This made him break out of the auto-flying and have to think his way around the pattern instead, and he was able to stop what he was doing wrong. He carried the fix back over to the left seat.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I updated to answer the question. $\endgroup$
    – MikeY
    Mar 19, 2019 at 10:53

It's a non-factor.

At this point in their careers, pilots have logged so many hours both in the left and right seat, that they have become ambidextrous during operation. I've never heard of this process being so inconvenient or difficult as to cause a mishap or prevent a person from typing in an airplane.

Curiously the military tactical community does not share that belief and utilizes right hand control of the aircraft only. In the B-1 and B-2 bomber aircraft, for example, there are separate throttle quadrants for the pilot and first officer, so each crew member can control the stick using the right hand and use the left hand for throttle control.

enter image description here
(ww2aircraft.net) B-1 cockpit

  • $\begingroup$ A B-52 bomber is about as tactical as a B-1 bomber, and it has a traditional central throttle quadrant. $\endgroup$
    – MikeY
    Apr 8, 2020 at 15:29

When I learned to fly I did all my flying from the left seat (as is typical). That means handling the yoke primarily with your LEFT hand, while throttle, radio etc with your right. When I was getting my CFI, I was a little worried about the transition to flying from the right seat. For me it was a non-issue. The hardest part was the change in view (judging where the runway center-line is from the right), but even that was non-issue.


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