AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, AND FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

Why Do Boeing Planes Use Yokes While Airbus Planes Have Side Sticks?

Before the introduction of the Airbus A320 family of planes, all aircraft had a central yoke in their cockpits. The original yoke was a two-handed tool which pilots could use to manually control the aircraft’s functions. Then in 1985, Airbus designed the first commercial airliner with a side stick in place of the central yoke. Up until that point, fighter jets were the only ones using side stick navigation. Now, nearly all modern Airbus aircraft use side sticks, while Boeing has committed to keeping the central yoke. After this, if you are curious what is the difference between these configurations, simply read on as we discuss the ways in which they vary.

The original yoke was a device that could directly connect to the various control surfaces on the wings of a plane by way of cables that lift and lower the various control surfaces on the wings and tail. In this way when the yoke is pulled back, the nose of the aircraft rises. When it is pushed forward, the nose is lowered, and finally, when the yoke is turned right or left, the plane is rolled in that direction. Human muscle alone cannot move these surfaces on larger aircraft, so hydraulic equipment is often used in these systems.

Though many planes still feature a system like the original yoke which could control surfaces directly, most modern commercial aircraft now operate with a fly-by-wire system. In these systems, the movement of the yoke sends a corresponding signal to the actuators attached to the control surfaces. Expanding on the shift to fly-by-wire systems, Airbus simplified the traditional yoke into a side stick which can be operated with one hand, much like a joy stick.

Besides simply making use of improving technology, Airbus decided to incorporate a side stick into their commercial planes as a way to break the Boeing 737’s stronghold on the narrowbody market. Airbus set themselves apart by introducing an aircraft that was fundamentally different from the 737: the A320. Due to the new computer based controls, Airbus was able to recreate the traditional cockpit configuration while simplifying controls. They argued that the single handed side stick made flying more comfortable and gave pilots greater room to interact with the new information systems. Since then, Airbus aircraft has continued to use side sticks in all subsequent aircraft and further changed the cockpit to incorporate more touchscreens, eliminating the need for manual switches.

Though Boeing Aircraft has openly considered introducing their own version of the side stick to their aircraft, they have decided against doing so due to several design considerations and concerns. Most pro-yoke arguments claim that a yoke is essential for emergency flight operations because it lets you override in emergency situations. Some also say that it preserves more general flying skills and coordination between the pilot and copilot. Conversely, pro-side stick arguments maintain that side stick is more comfortable for pilots and ensures they stay within safe limits. It also lends more free space and one free hand to operate the many computer-based systems around them.

In general, there are many arguments for both configurations, and Boeing and Airbus have remained close rivals nevertheless. Regardless of what configuration your business uses, you can rely on Integrated NSN as a dependable source for dependable aircraft parts for your operations. With an inventory of over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find components, we are well equipped to fulfill all your sourcing requirements. Start the purchasing process today, to receive strategic solutions catered to your specific budget, time parameters, and location.


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