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Bell 47G Pilot seating position

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Bell 47G Pilot seating position

Old 4th Apr 2020, 08:05
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
Know why PIC sits in the left on a FW? Early days of airline flying in Europe it was all VFR of course, and a decree was issued that aircraft would fly to the right of the navigational feature they were following (railway, road), left seat thus enhanced map reading ability. I could find no better answers.
This has come up many times before.

It is more likely a hangover from nautical times. Passengers are loaded on the port side of a FW (just like in ships). Therefore, if the PIC sits in the left seat, he/she can monitor the loading from their window.
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Old 4th Apr 2020, 08:05
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Hangover from aeroplanes, throttle controls in a side by side configuration are in the middle of the aircraft hence pilot sits on the left,
The first throttles were attached to the port side of the cockpit. When an assistant was put in beside the pilot the pilot sat on the left hand side. and this continued. Mosquito, etc. Centre throttles when there were two pilots was easier but training aircraft had left hand throttles for both.

When Sikorsky built the first wide cockpits he put the pilot on the right hand side because all the collective paraphernalia was in the middle of the aircraft. Bell, using a lighter system put theirs on the left. Fashion made Bell change to the right but Russian helicopters still have the pilot on the left.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 4th Apr 2020 at 09:17.
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Old 4th Apr 2020, 08:23
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Fashion made Bell change to the right
More like "practicality".

You need to hold the cyclic all the time, either in the hand or between the legs. You can let the collective go for short times, using collective friction or lean the left leg against it. To change radios or adjust QNH you keep flying with right hand and use left hand to make the adjustments. Thus, easier to have pilot on right, with collective between seats.

For a machine with a front bench seat, the lever needs to be on the left of the seat, so the left-seat pilot has to juggle hands to play with radios. In the 47s and bench-seat Squirrels, the engineers take out the bench and put in single seats and a set of dual controls for a dual check or endorsement.
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Old 4th Apr 2020, 10:35
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Originally Posted by Bravo73 View Post
This has come up many times before.

It is more likely a hangover from nautical times. Passengers are loaded on the port side of a FW (just like in ships). Therefore, if the PIC sits in the left seat, he/she can monitor the loading from their window.
I was thinking about this, a few months ago as i was boarding a cruise ship in Honolulu. So I'm boarding the ship, and am directed to head aft to the saloon until our rooms were ready. I go to turn right, but they point me to the left... i say ummm wouldn't aft be this way, sorry sir its that way, didn't we just board, so port side of the ship, sorry sir you came onto the Left hand side, ahh starboard, no, Left hand side.!!!

I gave up at that point, and headed in the direction they pointed! He was right, he pointed me aft, but i was stuck wondering why the Port side of the ship wasn't facing the Port.
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Old 4th Apr 2020, 12:31
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Maybe because they were parked like this.


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Old 4th Apr 2020, 16:19
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The question of why the 47 has a left-side PIC comes up often. People want a Definitive Answer, when there really isn't one. If you look at pictures of the original Bell Model 30, the pilot sat directly in the center. The early Bell didn't have a conventional collective. Bell went through some odd control setups before settling on the "standard" we've come to know and love. Before getting into helicopters, Bell primarily built single-seat fighter planes. Fighter pilots fly with their right hand on the stick and left hand on the throttle. So that's the configuration Bell engineers adopted for the helicopter.

When provisions for a passenger arose in the Model 30, they sort of "piggy-backed" him on the right - very strange and awkward. As the model 30 design advanced , it got two proper seats, with the PIC on the left, which must have just seemed logical to the designers. As commercial sales ensued, the wisdom of left-hand PIC was demonstrated, as you could stick *two* pax in the cabin. (And don't forget, back in the early days there was no "adjusting the QNH" or any of that silliness. Helicopters maaaaybe had a radio...but helicopter pilots didn't like using it.)



Out in California, ol' Stan Hiller designed *his* helicopter (the Model 360) with the PIC seated in the center, like the Bell. Why? Because the very weird overhead control came down into the cabin directly from the swashplate and that must have seemed like the place to put the guy who was going to be moving it. When the 360 morphed into the Model 12 (and a more conventional cyclic control arrangement was designed), the PIC stayed in the center, and two passengers were put on either side of him. When flight instruction was desired, dual controls were grafted on to the left-hand seat but the PIC stayed in the middle! Thus, the very weird seating arrangement in the Model 12/H-23.

Modern 12's can be set up for the PIC to be in the center or the left, but the same cannot be said of the 47. As others have noted, the fuel shut-off is to the left of the left-hand pilot. The cyclic friction is on the left stick. While some 47's have the starter button on the instrument panel, early models (in the days before electrical starter solenoids) had a foot-switch that pulled a cable that went to the starter. This foot-switch was on the left side of the center tunnel (or console, or whatever you call it). Later models had a box on the end of the left collective that contained the landing light and starter switches. I'm not sure if solo right-seat PIC in a 47 is prohibited or permitted. Those early RFM's were pretty...well...sparse in information.

So to answer the big "WHY?!" question that people seem to obsess over: That's just the way it turned out. You want to carry three people in a small helicopter? PIC has to go on the left. Works for the 47, the Hiller (basically), Enstrom, Hughes 300 (and 500) and probably some I'm forgetting. In modern helicopters, where the fidgety pilot feels compelled to let go of the collective all the time to adjust this or that...well...he should probably be in the right.

On Facebook, two guys, Paul Faltyn and Joey Rhodes host two separate sites dedicated to the Bell 47. They're both incredible, generous people with fantastic knowledge of the type that they're willing to share. If you're into 47's (and who isn't!) both of their pages are the place to be.
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Old 5th Apr 2020, 01:08
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Has anyone got the picture of the B47 Prototype (not unlike the pic above)
Hovering, while the pilots smokes a cigarette?

I’ve seen it on a poster that state’s “1947 was a long time ago”

I’d love a hiRez file of it - for my own poster.
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Old 5th Apr 2020, 04:24
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Originally Posted by Fareastdriver View Post
Maybe because they were parked like this.


ha ha , no it wasn't docked like that. It was on a single sided wharf with land on the other side. I just thought that it was weird, but maybe they only went straight in and out of that wharf. I thought we turned around in the harbour when we left, but could be wrong...

Our 47 was LH Drive when we had it.
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Old 6th Apr 2020, 08:44
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Pilot on left/right

I flew Bell 47G in training with the AAC in 1965. The Bell 47 was one of the first successful main stream helicopters produced after the war and I've always understood that, because thats where fixed-wing pilots traditionally flew from, there was no reason to change it.

When Sikorsky began to produce helicopters they were used mainly for ship-board operations which must have been one of the biggest steps forward in making people aware of helicopter capabilities and potential. One of Sikorsky's first was the S55 with provision for two pilots. As the island on a carrier is to starboard, it made sense to have the pilot sitting on the right to give the best view of the flight-deck on approach from the port side.

All the helicopters I flew after the Bell 47, from the Saunders Roe Skeeter up to the commercial Chinook, were designed to be flown or at least commanded from the right-hand seat withe the exception of check rides where the TRE/IRE commanded from the left.

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Old 6th Apr 2020, 09:20
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The first production helicopter was the S47/R4 which was delivered to the US Army in May 1942.

From the Sikorsky archives:

The XR-4 helicopters featured a 36 foot 3 bladed fully articulated main rotor and a 3 bladed tail rotor powered by a Warner Scarab 175 hp R-500-1 seven cylinder air cooled radial engine. The XR-4 had a 2 place side-by-side cockpit with dual flight controls. As a weight saving measure, only one main rotor pitch control lever (collective) was installed in the center of the cockpit One Experimental XR-4 helicopters was built The first flight was on January 14, 1942.
The Sycamore HR14 also had a central collective which took some getting used to. I used to demonstrate left cyclic/right collective with the AP out approaches on the 332L to show young co-pilots what it was like. However, civil Sycamores had dual collectives though not as big as the HR14s.
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Old 6th Apr 2020, 10:19
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Our Bell 47's, (Sioux) were single set of controls except when the six monthly checks came round and dual controls were fitted. I tried left cyclic, right collective on several occasions. Focused the mind wonderfully. Almost like starting all over again.
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Old 9th Apr 2020, 19:32
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Bell 47G Pilot seating position

Enstrom 480 and 480B left hand seat
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Old 9th Apr 2020, 20:37
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My daughter, for old times sake, bought me a lesson on a basic fixed wing tourer. I was in the LHS and there was a single throttle in the centre.

Absolute chaos during the takeoff. !8.5000 hrs on helicopters, the majority being with an auto-stabilisation system didn't help. I was using what I thought were unheard amounts of rudder but it wasn't enough. My early flying with 550 hp of radial engine didn't seem to help.

General flying was easy but then came the approach and landing. I was 79 years old and the brainbox was working overtime to keep the synchronisation of the wrong hand throttle and control stick in sequence. It worked until the end but nothing I did could keep it straight when I shut the throttle after the round out.

The assistant instructor was on the ball and complimented me on my upper air stuff but I knew that I would have to relearn the whole scene if I wanted to do it again..
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