Classic configuration is something like the A320: wings in the middle, horizontal stabilizers at the tail.

Canard configuration is something like the Beechcraft Starship: wings at the back and horizontal stabilizers at the front (canards).

I'm just wondering if the canard config has any radically different controls for pitch? Are the directions reversed for the yoke? Are there serious re-training requirements for pilots due to some major difference? Are there bad side-effects when pitching in either direction that must be compensated for?

Note, I'm interested in large commercial jets for subsonic speeds. I couldn't find any in the canard config, so the Beechcraft was the closest example I could find.

Also, I'm asking this with traditional controls in mind...hydraulics, not fly-by-wire. I want to know if there are any radically different pitch considerations, before they are compensated by a computer.

(A related question could be for supersonic deltas, because I know some of them have canards to help stability. But I wanted to focus on subsonic flight in this question.)

  • $\begingroup$ The short answer is no, but I'm sure someone will find something interesting to say about some differences. $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2019 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


As far as in-cockpit controls, a canard has the same control setup as a conventional airplane. Stick or yoke, throttle(s), rudder pedals.

All the differences are hidden in the linkages or hydraulics -- pulling the stick back lowers the elevator on the canard, instead of raising one on a rear stabilizer, but to the pilot it's the same.

There are some minor technique difference in actually flying a canard; stalls are very different (I've heard some canards referred to as "almost impossible to stall"), and trimming pitch is slightly different; correct CG location is very different (usually ahead of the leading edge of the wing or, at most rearward, roughly even with the leading edge of the root of a swept wing), and the engine or engines are almost always located in the rear -- but once again, the pilot manages the engines very nearly identically to a conventional airplane (with the exception that, in case of a failure, he can't just look out the window to see if an engine is on fire).

  • $\begingroup$ A canard can never allow the main wing to stall. You are in deep doo doo if it does. They all are designed so the canard surface stalls and unstalls as it pitches down so the airplane just bobs along with the nose going up and down with the stick full aft, with the main wing never able to get to stall AOA. It's a safety feature, but also a limitation. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Jun 20, 2019 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ Yep. Hence "stalls are very different". As you say, if you manage to stall the wing, you probably won't ever get it unstalled. I think you could design a canard to allow this (and what happens with a Viggen or Grippen -- can't think those are designed without aerobatic capability), but common ones like Starship or Vari-Eze are designed for safety of low-skill pilots. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 21, 2019 at 11:03

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