Why would the Captain and Co-pilot both need to control the plane at the same time in normal operations? The only time that I could think of one is manually flying and doing complex maneuvering and they want to switch because of the difficulty but sounds really risky with it being much better to stabilize and then switch.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ what's "major aircraft"? $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ Are you considering fly-by-wire aircraft only, or only manual flight controls, or both? Are you considering inputs to the same control element or to different elements by the two pilots? $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ This should be rephrased so that it's not asking for an opinion-based answer. I think this could be salvaged if it was asking about the technical details of dual-input scenarios. $\endgroup$
    – zymhan
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ I don’t know if it is still done, but in my younger days, Huey (UH-1) pilots in low hovers on gusty days would often ask their copilots to be hands-on with them. $\endgroup$
    – Max R
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ Define "quite unusual". $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 15:57

2 Answers 2


Where on earth did you get the idea that they would ever control the plane at the same time ?

Not only does it make no sense from a purely practical perspective, but also its basically a big fat no-no.

During training, you spend a lot of time on the psychology and practicalities of MCC (Multi-Crew Cooperation). To cut a long-story short, you learn the PF/PNF (Pilot-Flying/Pilot-Not-Flying) system and that's the way you work for the rest of your career.

Designated PF does the flying. Designated PNF does everything else (radio, nav, computers). PNF will also call out items that need to be cross-checked (e.g. items that get displayed on both PF and PNF monitors).

PF and PNF roles switch throughout the flight depending on operational or human requirements. The switch is very explicit with verbal confirmation of donation and acceptance of the role.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ And when people don't respect the rule, this happens: "Robert responded to this by saying, "controls to the left", and took over control of the aircraft. He pushed his side-stick forward to lower the nose and recover from the stall; however, Bonin was still pulling his side-stick back. The inputs cancelled each other out and triggered an audible "dual input" warning" $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 17:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have seen instances protrayed in aircraft accident recreations where the control surface hydraulics have been compromised and both pilots were simultaneously trying to muscle the aircraft controls. $\endgroup$
    – RetiredATC
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ You mean the formerly flying pilot as he transitioning to the monitoring pilot would suddenly let the controls go and expect the flying pilot to be in control with the rudder and control surfaces exactly in the right spot. The question is dual input not continuously be in dual control. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 6:41
  • $\begingroup$ In abnormal situation, such rudder control problem, pilots have had both push the rudder with all their might just to have some control- dozen of other scenarios where two pilots are giving flight inputs. I wouldn't want you in a plane- you'd let the plane crash, $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 11:58

The Me-321 prototype had only one pilot. After the first flights, this and all subsequent airplanes of the Me-321 and 323 production had two. This giant plane simply required too high control forces for a single pilot, and two were needed to fly the airplane properly.

Being a glider, the 321 had manual controls despite its 55 m wingspan. Besides the second pilot, electric flaps were added after the first flight as well.

Why would the Captain and Co-pilot both need to control the plane at the same time in normal operations?

Because the fully reversible controls require more strength than a single pilot can muster.

  • $\begingroup$ what makes a Me-321 a "major aircraft"? $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 7:40
  • $\begingroup$ @HiddenWindshield Do you have any proof for your claims? Did you speak to people who have flown the type (as I have done, admittedly decades ago)? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterKämpf Apparently I misread. The electric servomotors were only used for the flaps, not any of the other controls. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ @HiddenWindshield … as I said in my answer. Gliders normally do not use powered controls, even with 55 m wingspan. Adding a second pair of hands is both easier and adds less mass, after all. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:06

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