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Home > Air Travel > A nervous passenger’s curiosity about the airplane cockpit…
A nervous passenger’s curiosity about the airplane cockpit…
Flying - Air Travel
Friday, 13 January 2012 14:38


Airbus A320 Cockpit (Note Black & White Trim Wheel)

Hello Capt Lim,

I'd firstly like to thank you for your site.  I have found the answers to many aviation questions I was curious about. There is however a couple I've not managed to find the answers to.

1. What are the black and white wheels next to the thrust leavers for? They seem to spin on their own sometimes.  I only ever recall seeing them in videos of Airbuses but am not totally sure if it's just the Airbuses that have them?

2. When I see videos from Airbus flight decks they always look strange to me as they are missing the yokes that Boeings and other aircraft have.  I was just wondering if you felt somewhat detached from flying using a joystick instead of the more traditional yokes.

3. This question again comes from seeing videos from the flight decks of airliners. I've seen some videos of approaches and landings that to a non-pilot like me, look pretty hair rising to say the least, with very poor visibility through the windscreen and some with hard and fast movements of the flight controls. Whilst I'm sure these are totally safe, I just wondered if you have ever found yourself in a situation as a pilot where you have felt nervous or slightly scared with the conditions you've found yourself flying in?

Once again thank you for your site... as a nervous passenger, but at the same time, someone who is fascinated with aircraft and flight, I have found this very helpful and reassuring.

James

Hi James,
  1. The black and white wheels are known as trim wheels that are used to reduce the forces of the flight controls during the cruise, climb or descent.  When you see them spinning on their own – they are in fact working automatically to reduce the control forces. They are also found on the Boeing.
  2.  All the modern Airbuses from the A320 to the A380 have moved from the conventional control wheels to the yoke (joystick). When I moved over from the Boeing 777 to the new Airbuses, I found the yoke a little strange but once I got used to it, I love it as the space in front allows a retractable tray to be installed. Pilots can now work or eat in comfort!
  3. Pilots are trained to fly the planes safely in most emergency situation. Whether they would be nervous or slightly scared are not in their mind when handling emergencies or flying the planes. 'Hard and fast movement' would contribute to unstabilized approach. In the airline industry, this constitutes an unsafe manoeuvre that calls for an aborted landing. Perhaps what you have witnessed were probably seen in smaller commuter planes.

I wish you safe flights and blue skies!

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim 


Conventional Cockpit view of Boeing 787 (with Control Wheel Steering)


Luthansa Airbus A380 Cockpit Tour

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