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Author Topic: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?  (Read 2783 times)

barney

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It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« on: December 06, 2012, 08:17:08 PM »
OK, I've looked at this before, but w/o a definitive answer.

Just finished watching Starship Troopers, the first of a [so far] trilogy on film of R A Heinlein's book of the same name.  It occurred to me that they - the film makers - always put the command pilot in the left seat.  US film, US habits, I suppose, but the question is why?

I can understand the English/UK/Europe folk making the [wheeled vehicle] right side the command side, considering the history [and forms] of combat there.  But why is it [I thimk] universal today than the command pilot sits in the left seat?  I've tried to research this in the past, several times, but never derived a definitive answer.

So, anyone here have that definitive answer?  Or even a clue or pointer as to the why?

I'm not gonna lose sleep over it - I hope! - but I'm damned curious.

(Edited for typos)

Stephen66515

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2012, 08:28:07 PM »
Only true in 'Fixed Wing' Aircraft...Helicopter pilots (commanders?) Sit in the right seat.

There doesn't seem to be a definitive answer why this is, but I know Aircraft pilots sit on the left, as "Air-Highways" are laid out like they are in America (Where they drive on the wrong side of the road) - Thats the only logical explanation I have for it.

As for Helicopter pilots, its possibly because its easier to use the cyclic in your right hand, and control the radios, collectives, nav, etc, with the left.

barney

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2012, 08:35:48 PM »
Yeah, I overlooked choppers, but I've seen as many with left controllers as right ... doesn't seem to make much difference to those pilots.  When I was in Southeast Asia (many moons agone), I saw as many left seaters as right seaters ... assume(d) it was personal preference, although it might have been accommodation to the bird's construction.  Still damned curious, though.

MilesAhead

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 08:38:20 PM »
I think if you invent something or dominate in a field, you exert influence on the customs/implementation. Like the dominance of English in programming and Internet. Hitler was hip to this ploy. That's why he insisted on naming the Telephone Fernsprecher instead. They had to come at him through France to straighten him out. :)

With the helicopter thing it may be less ingrained since it takes off vertically. You don't have to drive it down a runway to get up speed.

Then again it could be if you are the boss you have to have a "right hand man" and it's just not the same if the subordinate is on the left. (Many executive types are suspicious of leftists to begin with.)

barney

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 08:44:39 PM »
With the helicopter thing it may be less ingrained since it takes off vertically. You don't have to drive it down a runway to get up speed.

Now that's a valid point  :huh:.  One that I'd not have considered, otherwise.  Thanks  :up:.

cranioscopical

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 08:49:18 PM »
Senior officers are seldom right and have to settle for what's left.
 

MilesAhead

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 08:54:59 PM »
Senior officers are seldom right and have to settle for what's left.
 


Just don't let them assign you to the rear guard. You know where you're gonna' take it then!! :)

Stephen66515

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 08:59:53 PM »
With the helicopter thing it may be less ingrained since it takes off vertically. You don't have to drive it down a runway to get up speed.

Now that's a valid point  :huh:.  One that I'd not have considered, otherwise.  Thanks  :up:.


I think its purely personal preference with Chopper Pilots - Although, when flying, I must say, it feels more "natural" to fly from the left seat...Don't know why, just doesn't feel right on the right (excuse me for the badly worded sentence).

40hz

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2012, 06:01:23 AM »
I was always under the impression it was to allow the dominant hand of the majority easier access to the main area of the cockpit and allow more space for miscellaneous tasks such as making notations on a map or logbook, or holding a thermos cup of coffee.

Too bad Henry Ford isn't still around to ask why he decided to put the steering wheel on the left. He usually had solid reasons for why he did most things, even if his real reasons weren't what most people thought.

kfitting

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2012, 06:04:49 AM »
Helicopters are urged to fly the landing pattern to the right, aircraft to the left so they deconflict in the pattern.  Sitting on the right makes viewing during a right turn easier.  You can also read this article (and the comments): http://www.airspacemag.com/need-to-know/Need-to-Know-Why-Do-Helicopter-Pilots-Sit-in-the-Right-Seat.html

Not sure why aircraft have the pilot on the left (I've always wondered if it's because many people are right handed and so can utilize the main instrument panel better, as posted above).  Although this is another interesting idea: http://4vfr.com/?goto=view_article&section=articles&article_key=35

In the latest rotor aircraft (a la V-22), the two "worlds" have merged with some interesting consequences.  It does seem that the internet is full of answers for this question!

Fred Nerd

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2012, 06:06:59 AM »
I just got an instructor rating (recreational aviation) so I had to learn to fly from the right.

Since the plane I did the instructor training in (jabiru 170) is totally different to mine (Morgan Aeroworks Cheetah) it was a bit of a total re-learning and now I feel better in the right of the jab, feel fine in the left of everything else.
I recently did a check flight in a Tecnam Sierra and felt fine in the right of that as well. Just kept landing to the side on the runway from lining it up assymetricly.

@Stephan66515, what do you fly?

Stephen66515

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2012, 01:56:15 PM »
I just got an instructor rating (recreational aviation) so I had to learn to fly from the right.

Since the plane I did the instructor training in (jabiru 170) is totally different to mine (Morgan Aeroworks Cheetah) it was a bit of a total re-learning and now I feel better in the right of the jab, feel fine in the left of everything else.
I recently did a check flight in a Tecnam Sierra and felt fine in the right of that as well. Just kept landing to the side on the runway from lining it up assymetricly.

@Stephan66515, what do you fly?

Cessna 152/172 :)

4wd

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 06:30:01 PM »
Too bad Henry Ford isn't still around to ask why he decided to put the steering wheel on the left. He usually had solid reasons for why he did most things, even if his real reasons weren't what most people thought.

Used to be on the right, this seems to be a logical reason for the change:

Quote
All early automobiles in the USA (driving on the right-hand side of the road) were right-hand-drive, following the practice established by horse-drawn buggies. They changed to left-hand-drive in the early 1900s as it was decided that it was more practical to have the driver seated near the centreline of the road, both to judge the space available when passing oncoming cars, and to allow front-seat passengers to get out of the car onto the pavement instead of into the middle of the street.

Ford changed to left-hand-drive in the 1908 model year. A Ford catalogue from 1908 explains the benefits of placing the controls on the left side of the car:
“The control is located on the left side, the logical place, for the following reasons: Travelling along the right side of the road the steering wheel on the right side of the car made it necessary to get out on the street side and walk around the car. This is awkward and especially inconvenient if there is a lady to be considered. The control on the left allows you to step out of the car on to the curbing without having had to turn the car around.
In the matter of steering with the control on the right, the driver is farthest away from the vehicle he is passing, going in opposite direction; with it on the left side he is able to see even the wheels of the other car and easily avoids danger.”

From: Why do some countries drive on the right and others on the left ?

Me, I still think it's better to have your weapon on the side of oncoming traffic :D

Fred Nerd

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2012, 07:23:47 AM »
Cessna 152/172 :)

Can't knock a good Cessna, they're probably the most tried and proven plane out there. Couldn't hurt you if you tried :)

I prefer the smaller ones that have nasty habits if you don't watch them. Just makes life interesting. 8)


Stephen66515

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2012, 11:06:11 AM »
Cessna 152/172 :)

Can't knock a good Cessna, they're probably the most tried and proven plane out there. Couldn't hurt you if you tried :)

I prefer the smaller ones that have nasty habits if you don't watch them. Just makes life interesting. 8)



Always loved single/duel/turbo prop :D  Not a fan of jets at all.

I used to fly the Vigilant (I think thats what it was called...it was a powered glider) way back when, got my GIC in that, and also flew in the Grob G115 (First one i ever flew) - Those Grobs are agile little things!

Tinman57

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2012, 07:16:43 PM »
  LOL!   I can still remember this question from ground school and flight training.  The pilot sits on the left seat because the default air-traffic pattern is left, therefore the pilot can see the runway better on the downwind leg of the pattern.

  So, if the active runway is North (0 degrees), you would enter the traffic pattern from a 45 degree angle to the North from the east, and then turn North when approx 1/4 mile from the runway (a lot depends there), putting the runway parallel to the aircraft to the pilots left.  The pilot then has a good reference to the runway for turning "Base" and then turning to "Final" approach, and also gives him/her a better view of other air traffic.

Edit:  I changed the second line to read "North from the east" from "North from the west".  Got it bass-ackwards.  lol
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 07:49:59 PM by Tinman57 »

barney

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Re: It's about ... why is the left seat the command seat?
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2012, 01:16:00 PM »
LOL!   I can still remember this question from ground school and flight training.  The pilot sits on the left seat because the default air-traffic pattern is left, therefore the pilot can see the runway better on the downwind leg of the pattern.

That makes sense ... and begs another question  :P.