View Full Version : Handflying with yoke

10th Apr 2010, 18:23

I have a question on handflying Boeing and other conventional aircraft. I find some Pilots resting thieir elbow on their armrest while hand flying with the yoke. Others were flying with armrest in the up position.

In fly by wire Airbus. Pilots are required to rest their arm on the specail ouboard armrest. In Boeing what is the SOP.

I thoght Boeing armrests are there just for comfort like car. I would appreciate if you would share your wisdom .

Thank you.

11th Apr 2010, 00:46
I always folded them up for takeoff & landing, though I didn't have a problem with anyone having them down.

11th Apr 2010, 01:48
I always flew with them down. Always keep the 5 point harness done up too.

I was once told by one of the training people that most of the ex military flew with them down, whilst the GA people tended to be the other way.

11th Apr 2010, 01:48
On the CRJ I try to keep my elbows on the armrests when hand-flying, because I find it easier to be smooth with my arms thus positioned.

11th Apr 2010, 01:54
Same as you do in your car using a real stearing wheel. Just have at least one hand on the wheel, if you have been drinking use your armrest or other support, like leg, to drive straight. Airbus is the only airplane that requires method 2 when you are sober.

11th Apr 2010, 02:31
Are you high or low altitude, high or low speed, smooth or rough air? Do you need to make fine corrections with your wrist & fingers or larger corrections with your shoulder & elbow? With the armrests down, it is easier to transition seamlessly between the 2 modes: plant your elbow on the armrest to fly with your wrist and/or fingers; lift your elbow to use your shoulder.

11th Apr 2010, 20:00
I always used the armrests, no matter what type aircraft I was flying, unless of course there were no armrests. One of the first things I do after getting into the seat is lower the armrests and then adjust the seat.

I've noticed that pilots that do not use the armrests tend to not fly as smoothly as those that do use them. I have never heard of any types of restrictions on using or not using armrests.

11th Apr 2010, 21:21
I agree with Intruder and Con-Pilot, I found that ex military tended to raise them sometimes, especially the ex fighter pilots, not so much the ex transport pilots.

11th Apr 2010, 21:50
I use 1 armrest down and the other one up. :ok:

Manual Reversion
11th Apr 2010, 21:50
UK 747-400 operator. Training is armrests down for take off. Not actually an SOP though, so room for personal preference.

12th Apr 2010, 11:31
I always have both armrests down - it keeps me propped upright when I fall asleep! :ok:

12th Apr 2010, 12:23
Always had them both down - except when meal tray was too big to fit between them :p

galaxy flyer
12th Apr 2010, 13:55
Using armrests certainly makes aerial refueling easier! It is a bit smoother flying with armrests, but not critical like on the Scarebus.


D O Guerrero
12th Apr 2010, 19:34
My TR instructor always used to say that Mr Boeing put those armrests in for a reason, so use them!
Personally I keep them down and find that when flying any kind of approach, it can be quite handy to keep your elbows locked in position on the armrest and move the yoke with your fingers. It helps maintain a reference attitude in terms of remembering where your arms actually are... You can fly a raw data ILS with much greater precision this way.

12th Apr 2010, 22:40
Mostly I have no problem in remembering where my arms are...usually somewhere between my shoulders and hands:}

D O Guerrero
12th Apr 2010, 23:42
I'm sure there's a career on the stage for you... Mopping it.

13th Apr 2010, 20:12
Hello Captains

i want to thank you for for your kind participation. As I mentioned earlier in Airbuses from A318 to 380. It is mandatory to use the special outboard armrest while handflying. The instructors at Toulose strictly emphasise on this.

I wanted to know what is the procedure with Boeing and hence made this post.

However now it is apparent from all your insight most of your are resting your elbow on your armrest when hand flying. Some of you are keeping the armrest during up position for take offs and landings.

I saw the Boeing 787 dreamliner cockpit video at Boeing website. The chief Boeing test pilot captain Mike Carricker was fling with both armrests in up position.

I then understood that Boeing installed the armrests to rest arms during cruise. However pilots have found using armrests while handflying makes flying smoother . Also it is more comfortable.

At the same time there are others who find find armrests restrictive. They prefer to fly with both armrests in up position.

When it comes to flying a fly by wire Airbus. The use of out board armrest is a must .

In the world of Boeing the use of armrest is pilots personal preference.

Once again Gentlemen thank you very much for your contribitions.

14th Apr 2010, 14:36
Looking at the slightly wider picture, by placing your elbow or forearm on a fixed surface, armrest, you are removing a mechanical link, your upper arm, from the control system linkage. This results in it being easier to make small movements with a finer degree of control and precision.

For those of us who came into aviation via sporting light aircraft, especially gliders, we were taught on conversion to an aircraft with a cranked (bent) control stick (think libelle or astir type gliders) without a parallelogram type linkage (eg kestrel) then NOT resting your forearm on your thigh would normally result in PIO (pilot induced oscillations). In the event of the aircraft pitching nose up, the inertia in your forearm would cause the stick to move back, resulting in further pitch up. Pushing forward, the nose goes down, you unload the force on your arm, and you pitch even more down than you expected. In the past this has resulted in heavy damage and even injury. This is the reason I believe Airbooos insist on using the armrest.

14th Apr 2010, 18:00
I agree with you fully. You gave a very good account why it is important to rest the arm on an armrest when flying glider aircraft. The same can be said about fighter aircraft and Helicopter pilots. All the fighter pilots rest their arm on their thigh while handflying with flight stick and cyclic stick. Yes , Pilot induced oscillation can be eliminatated when arm is rested on a supporting structure.
No wonder Airbus made a unique armrest with height and angle adjustments for all their fly by wire aircraft.

The yoke has lots of tension and large range of travel. The Boeing yokes are back driven and duplicate the feel of a cable aircraft to certain extent. They are not sensitive like a sidestick.

Do you think pilot induced oscillations can happen in a Boeing jetliner yoke ?

14th Apr 2010, 18:27
I fly a 737, and yes, I use the armrests for the stated reasons... as for PIOs in large Boeings - of course they can occur, but I would say that they are limited to certain regimes where stability is low anyway (such as lateral instability during a flaps 40 approach in the 737).

14th Apr 2010, 18:41
probably not relevant as I fly DHC8-Q400 now, and previously BAe146 and BAe ATP, but as a regional pilot, I tend to always have armrests adjusted to be relaxed and light on the controls at nearly all times.

I have them down for taxi, take-off, cruise and approach and landing. the exception is in rough air and strong crosswinds or low level turbulance approaches, where more abrupt or corrective actions are required.

Hence the term this looks like an "armrests up" kind of approach come about.

Living on a rock in the sea, the weather can be quite unpleasant, and full control movement is often needed on days you earn the pay. Good job the SLF don't get to see it coming.

With FBW and force sensing, it's important to separate the wrist action from arm movement, hence the Airbus SOP.

Hope the thread helps your understanding.

23rd Apr 2010, 17:46
I learnt alot from this thread. Pilots from all over the world contributed their insight. Resting the elbow on the armrest results in smooth flying. However some pilots dont like to use the armrest. So finally the conclusion . Using the armrest or not should allways be the personal choice of the pilot.

However when handflying Airbus From A318 onwards upto A380 every pilot must use the outboard armrest. I am sure the same will apply to to Canadair C series and Sukhoi regional jetlier and Falcon 7x.

Thank you Gentlemen for your participating.


23rd Apr 2010, 19:01
I've noticed that pilots that do not use the armrests tend to not fly as smoothly as those that do use them.

Invariably. My last type was not equipped with an autopilot. At times I had to request that the FO deploy his armrests for the sake of the Capt's sanity.

23rd Apr 2010, 21:57
I always flew with the armrests down and sat outboard because it made it difficult for the Captains to reach me and strike me in a sensitive area when it was my landing.
Later as a Captain I did the opposite and also purchased a long pointy stick.
I found the main threat as a copilot was the ability of the flight engineer to suddenly clip me from my six o'clock in the middle of the night with his meal tray. Apparently they do this if they have become bored and think the quiet dark cockpit needs a liven up.
He told me it was recommended in his SOPs that the F/E did this to the F/os around 03.00am local time on night flights...I of course believed him.

Bob Lenahan
23rd Apr 2010, 22:24
Because I usually go to sleep, I prefer them down.

"go" should read "went" and "prefer" should read "preferred".

24th Apr 2010, 08:44
If the controls are light and responsive, I like having something to rest my arm on. If they are heavy and/or have a "dead band", I prefer to have a bit more room to bring more muscle groups into play so I can still get the same level of accuracy with the higher forces involved...

24th Apr 2010, 12:58
Boeing and Airbus both recommend them DOWN. ( especially Airbus with the Sidestick )

It gives your arm a stabilisation point, helps prevent over controlling.

26th Apr 2010, 14:14
Airbus Instructors at Toulose insist on the usage of outboard armrest while pilots go there for training . I am referring to Fly by Airbus jetliners. It is part of the SOP for Airbus.

When it come to Boeing there is no right or wrong approach. I have seen cockpit videos of Boeing 787 dreamliner. The chief test pilot captain Mike Carricker flew the 787 with both armrests in up position.

Vast majority of Airlines pilots fly with both armrests down. . Armrests down results in very smotth and stable flying.

How ever if there is an emergency or a severe turbulence. It is best to fly with both armrests up .