# Why the pitch control of helicopter is named Collective Control? And why does it located at the left side of the pilot seat?

This is probably a very trivial for some of you. But sometimes a name not representing the function become a question, just like this Collective Control, which its function is to pitch up the blade when it pulled up, and vice versa to pitch down when it pulled down. Why that device is named Collective Control? Why not another name, i.e., Pitch Control, Lever Control, etc., which is seem more representative. And why does it located on the left side of the pilot seat?

• To come at it from another perspective - what would you rename them as? Keep in mind: The collective control is used to control the pitch of the rotor blades. The cyclic control is also used to control the pitch of the rotor blades. They are both pitch controls. The collective can control the position as well as the speed of the heli, while the cyclic can control the attitude as well as the position of the heli. What they control depends on the state of the helicopter at a given point in time. Oct 8, 2019 at 16:01
• You seem to be using comments below to argue with people who have presented valid, reasonable, and complete answers. Combined with some of your word choices in the question, it seems like you may not be a native English speaker. This begs the question: Are you sure the problem is in the name of the helicopter control and not in your use or understanding of the English language? Oct 8, 2019 at 18:18

Firstly, it does not control the pitch of the helicopter, that can be achieved using the cyclic control.

Secondly, it is named collective because it changes the pitch of of all the main rotor blades collectively, as in, at the same time and by the same amount.

This is different from the cyclic control which adjusts the pitch of the blades as a function of where they are in their cyclic rotation around the helicopter, i.e. as a function of their azimuth.

As for why is it on the left, that is because the majority of the population is right handed and the cyclic demands more precise and complex inputs. Therefore it is easier for the pilot to have the cyclic stick in their dominant hand.

• I have explained the function to control the blade. My question is, why the name not representing its function? Oct 8, 2019 at 15:30
• What part of my second paragraph is unclear? It does describe the function! Oct 8, 2019 at 17:24

"Collective" is short for "Collective Pitch Control", which, you know, controls the pitch of the blades collectively.

It's on the left side because the really fine motor control required of flying a helicopter with the cyclic is best suited to the right hand, and 90% of the population is right handed.

A lot of machines (Hughes and others are exceptions) are flown from the right seat because the collective hand is the "free-est" you might say, since you can let go of collective but are not supposed to let go of cyclic. Flying from the right allows you to work all the switches in the cockpit without taking your right hand off cyclic. On left seat solo machines like Hughes 300/500s or Bell 47s or Enstroms, you have to switch hands all the time any time you want to work a cockpit control.

• "Collective" is short for "Collective Pitch Control" This is the answer I am looking for. Oct 9, 2019 at 6:24
• It's on the left side because the really fine motor control required of flying a helicopter with the cyclic is best suited to the right hand. Thank you for the logic behind the design. Oct 9, 2019 at 6:26

Both the cyclic and the collective change the pitch angle of the main rotor blades. The cyclic is typically located in front of the pilot and is controlled with the right hand (presumably because most people are right handed), while the collective is controlled with the left hand.

(image from Wikimedia, from Helicopter flight controls)

The pitch angle of the blades is modified with a swashplate. The swashplate can be raised as a whole (collectively, hence the name collective) to increase the pitch everywhere, or in a given direction resulting in different pitch angles during one turn (cyclically, hence the name cyclic).

(image from Wikimedia)

• I am asking how the name was derived which it is not representing its function? Oct 8, 2019 at 15:30
• Interesting fact (at least for older aircraft and probably still true); the throttle was on the collective where the pilot's hand is applied and pulling the collective up results in a natural rotation of the throttle to increase power. Oct 8, 2019 at 15:44
• @AirCraft Lover The collective control changes the blades' pitch collectively (together), while the cyclic control changes the pitch of a blade in a consistent manner during different parts of the rotation cycle. Their names perfectly describe their function, in a very literal manner. It only seems odd if your grasp of the language doesn't sufficiently cover the varied usage/context of the words. Oct 8, 2019 at 15:49
• @AirCraftLover as aerobot said, the name comes from how the swashplate is moved, either collectively by the collective or cyclically by the cyclic. I clarified the answer. Oct 8, 2019 at 16:03
• As explained by John K above, "Collective" is short for "Collective Pitch Control." That's very reasonable. Oct 9, 2019 at 6:28