Sunday, January 31, 2010

Left seat - right seat? (left hand - right hand?)

Here's a question which did not make the cut for ASK DOUG at enRoute.

Hi there Doug
Just got one question, I've flown with a stick before but it was centralized (in-between the legs). I've always wondered after spending time on the A340 at F/O using your right hand was there difficulty or some time that you need to change when your used the left hand on the get the picture changing from right hand to left hand.

Just received your question from enRoute magazine. Even though it did not make it to the magazine, I thought it was an excellent question.

Yes, indeed there was an awkward transition period. Instead of using my right hand to fly, I now use it for the thrust levers. My left hand now manipulates the joystick. It's like using a phone in the opposite ear. Even my earpiece (headset) took some getting used to. It too had to switch ears.

As well, the flare on the "little bus" took some getting used to. I still think it's way to low compared to the "big bus." But, I must have had it figured out this morning at 6:00 a.m while landing from an Edmonton "red eye." I got four "nice landings" from the deplaning passengers.

I've been captain for over two years, but now and again I find I have to remind myself to sit in the left seat. Funny how we are creatures of habit.

Having said that, the comfort factor is settling in nicely. It's a great seat to fly from. The vantage points from the left seat are second to none.
Captain Doug


Viken said...

Hi Doug, I could never imagine myself using a joystick with my left hand. But then again, here in CY we drive cars on the left hand side of the road, just like the UK. And driving overseas sometimes require more than the usual concentration...

whywhyzed said...

Having learned to fly on the C-172 and other conventional A/C, I put in some time on a Piper SuperCub at my local flying club.

The Cub of course has a stick between the legs, and the throttle is by your left hand.

I found myself pushing fwd on the throttle once in a while when all I wanted to do was nudge the nose down a bit.... all part of the fun!

Taking AC1 today on the big Boeing :-)

From the Flight Deck said...

whywhyzed. I'm glad it's not only me. When you do fire drills, evacuations, working the radios with your different hand, it all adds up. But like you said, "it's all part of the fun."

You are off to NRT (Tokyo) today on Flight 001?

Enjoy! Funny thing is, I've never been on the B777 as a passenger. As a pilot, it will take a few years yet.

Enjoy the hospitalities of Air Canada.


From the Flight Deck said...

Viken. I was looking for a comparison and you mentioned a good one. It's like driving on the other side of the road. You also brought up another good point, I didn't realize in Cyprus you drove on the left side of the road. I assumed you would have been like mainland Europe.


Viken said...

No such luck Doug, it's just a small island in the Med, Ex UK colony!

Anonymous said...

I've never flown a bus...but I've always wondered if I could captain one for this very reason (although for captain's pay..I'd learn).

I've flown the line in both seats on planes with traditional yokes and never had the slightest trouble switching seats (aside from the wallet trouble during a downgrade back to F/O!).

Interesting topic and blog.

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. When flying with a traditional yoke you still tend to hold it with one hand and operate the throttles with the other hand, so in that regard, an Airbus it's not much different. No matter what, it takes a little getting used to. You're lucky if it didn't trouble you.

As far as the wallet thing, some F/O's joke captains fly a little slanted because of their thick wallet in their back pocket. :)

Thanks for the post.

Captain Doug