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I would argue that the controls of an aircraft are not complicated, but rather that they are simply foreign to you. In the vast majority of cases, the various controls in the aircraft do one thing: Turn something on, or turn it off. They are quite simple actually, but what makes it appear complicated to you is that there are so many of them. As you ...


67

As far as Airbus is concerned: Each unit is composed of two dissimilar boards, one driving the output and the other checking it. Dissimilar means both different CPUs and chipsets (A320 uses i386 (Intel) and m68k (Motorola); newer models use different combinations, basically whatever was widely used at the time they were designed) and software written by two ...


66

The stick does not need to move in order for the pilots to sense their inputs! Humans have very accurate force sensors in their fingers, and no direct position sensors. Without looking, we only have a very vague idea where our hand is due to muscle tone sensing, but we don't need to look at our hand to know exactly how hard it is pushing something. For the ...


64

As has been pointed out in a previous answer, the cockpit is a user interface. My belief is that it is virtually impossible to design any user interface that is user-friendly to both novice and experienced users, and I question whether you would really even want to do that. For example, in a light single engine aircraft with one fuel tank, a single on/off ...


60

The main thing to avoid in aeroplane stability & control, is an aerodynamic nose up moment that is not commanded by the pilot. The uncommanded nose-up moment would not auto-stabilise, but rapidly get progressively larger with increasing angle of attack, and run away to a stalled aeroplane. During certification of a passenger aeroplane, many tests are ...


54

Aircraft have fixed gears (when they have gears at all)! However in a sense a variable-pitch propeller can be considered analogous to transmission in a car and it was manual in some aircraft. The power transmitted by propeller is, within some reasonable range, proportional to its rotation rate. And so is, again within some reasonable range, the power ...


47

If you look closely at your drawing you will see the cables are not really simple pull cables but really act like steel belts. That is, there is a pulley at each end and when you actuate the control the cable is rotated around the system in a loop. The end pulleys and or idler pulleys are spring loaded to maintain a predefined tension on the cables and ...


46

Because most aircraft engines do not have geared transmission at all: Image from wiki The power is directly transmitted from the turbine to the compressor with a rigid shaft. It is true, though, that some engines have it, in particular, propeller engines: Image from ATSB but you have to realize that this a fixed gear ratio, no gear shifting is involved ...


45

99% of the information provided by all of those gauges, and 90% of the possible positions of all of those controls, are not necessary on a typical flight. You CAN take off, fly, and land, with just the instruments used on an ultralight (or less, if you think about the paramotor folks). But if anything goes wrong, or to squeak out a tiny bit more efficiency, ...


45

My short answer: Stability is reduced by shifting the center of gravity aft. Shifting it past the neutral point makes the airplane unstable, so movements away from the trimmed state are accelerated. This increases maneuverability. Flight computers are multiple redundant, if one dies the others take over. Slow unstable airplanes can be flown by a human pilot,...


45

I grew up in a family hot air ballooning business, and while I haven't been involved in a few years, I can answer your question in two words: They don't! Taking Off As far as collisions go, the other answers have mostly addressed this: hot air balloons only control vertical movement, so with all the balloons experiencing the same wind, they'll move at ...


43

The controls of an airplane don't have to be complicated. Here is a typical modern glider control panel: These instruments are: (top left) Variometer (shows relative climb/sink, only really useful for gliders) (top centre) Airspeed (required) (top right) Another variometer (in this airplane, one is mechanical and one is electronic) (bottom left) Altimeter (...


42

John K and Koyovis's answers are both correct. However, as a former pilot of the UH-60 and a mechanical engineer here is a simpler version. A helicopter must be balanced. If the front is much heavier than the tail, then it can't fly safely as the nose is too low. If the tail it too heavy, then the same. The point of balance is called the center of gravity. ...


40

The control forces are there by design. All airliners have artificial force feel from springs, dampers etc. A B747 flies through the skies a lot faster than a Cessna 172 and bad things could happen if it were easy to deflect the flying controls at M 0.85. The B737 elevator is a good case in point. It has q-feel (artificial feel) provided by a spring device,...


39

This is called Split Rudder and it provides redundancy. They run on different systems so if one fails, the other one can be used. Here is a picture of a split rudder: Split rudders also provide a finer high speed control, in that only the lower one moves at high speed, reducing the exposed surface area and therefore the control effect. Very importantly, ...


38

An airplane can slow down and reduce its speed while in flight. The easiest way to do so is to reduce the amount of thrust that the engines are producing. This will produce an almost immediate reduction of the airspeed, especially if the plane is maintaining the same altitude. There are also devices called air brakes and spoilers that can be further used ...


37

From a totally practical standpoint, let's say you're in a small tricycle gear aircraft with a freely castoring nose wheel (or a tail dragger) and you're starting your takeoff roll in a calm wind. When you bring the power up, the aircraft is going to want to turn left (why is another question), in other words to yaw about its vertical axis in a counter-...


37

Redundancy is not only achieved by multiplying the computers, but also by diversifying them. On Airbus airliners, two different computers are used (one with Intel chips, the other with Motorola chips in case of the A320) and software is written twice, one for control, the other for monitoring, by two teams which are not allowed to interact. To cite from ...


36

Seaplanes mostly have water rudders that are used at lower speeds and are retractable (actually, they tilt out of the water flow). At higher speeds, like takeoff runs and landings, high speed taxis, they are retracted and the primary means of steering is the plane's rudder. Water rudders are connected to the regular rudder pedals. Airlerons can also be ...


36

The perspective on that photo makes it hard to tell, but it looks like many of the balloons are still on the ground. So it's not quite as chaotic as it appears. There is no direct horizontal control. All they can do is ascend or descend to catch the preferred wind. How do they steer those away from each other to avoid mid air collisions? For the ...


35

You can sail a seaplane, but there are a lot of considerations. For starters, it makes a big difference as to whether you're talking about a seaplane where the hull is in the water or a floatplane. A floatplane sitting up on its pontoons (floats) is more up in the wind, but it's also more susceptible to rough water because of its higher center of gravity. ...


35

The Dunne D.8 used a pair of levers, each controlling one elevon.


34

For 747-100 and -200 aircraft at 35,000 ft and above, you can do it, but it's hard to keep the airplane within 100 feet of the assigned altitude, and you typically can't do that (or at least I couldn't) without practice. 200 foot altitude excursions were the norm when I first took control if I had not done it for a while. For the few first officers that ...


34

The fly-by-wire is absolutely vital for control of the aircraft, and the three dominating factors here are safety, safety and safety. Weight is not one of them. The fly-by-wire system is triple or quad redundant: instead of removing a set of cables, the manufacturers are installing 3 more cable looms, just to make sure that the system always works. Wires ...


33

Helicopter manufacturers seem to have been slow to adopt fly-by-wire systems. I used to work in the General Dynamics group which designed the fly-by-wire system for the F-16. That was the first production aircraft which had full-authority fly-by-wire (without mechanical backup systems). By the time I started working there, they were in process of updating ...


33

I will take this from a more general perspective. A Cessna 172 is part of the CS-23 category (in EASA land, see the equivalent Part 23 for FAA land). In the relevant document, point CS 23.143, we find the maximum forces a pilot might be required to exert on the control columns so that the aircraft can be certified. As the Cessna 172 is certified, we then ...


33

The modern control yoke is directly derived from the "joystick" control that became standard on aircraft in the days when Glenn Curtiss personally ran the company that was the main competitor to the Wright brothers. After inventing aileron control (the Wrights were still using wing warping at the time -- this was before 1910), Curtiss needed a way to ...


32

It's complicated ;) There are two types of stability; dynamic and static. If an aircraft is disturbed by, say, a gust of wind, it will deviate from its attitude but then will immediately and without control inputs return to its original attitude. This is positive static stability. If it remains in the disturbed attitude unless corrected, it has neutral ...


32

This is almost definitely the cockpit of a Short Stirling of unknown mark, a 4-engine British heavy bomber from World War II. The RAF Museum's website has an (admittedly low-resolution) photo that matches quite closely, as does this history website. Here's my thought process: the placards (not just the photo's labels) are in english, so it's likely either ...


31

As far as I read in various documents about A320 and remember them correctly: There are three systems handling different parts of the primary flight control: ELAC (elevator & aileron computer) controls pitch with elevators+trim and roll with ailerons. SEC (spoiler & elevator computer) controls roll with spoilers and if ELACs fail, pitch with ...


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