In the majority of aircraft, pilots use a flight yoke to control their direction of flight. This device is essentially a column which can be shifted forward, backward, and side-to-side, as well as turned like a steering wheel. These movements can then be used to direct the plane along three axes, and allow for rotation. Working in combination with pedals that control yaw (side-to-side movement), the flight yoke makes up one part of the flight control system that can operate across a full range of motion.
Depending on the size of the aircraft, planes can have either a mechanically or electronically controlled flight yoke. Regardless of which type they are, each flight yoke works by affecting the various control surfaces on the aircraft wings. These are the flaps which can be angled to alter airflow across the wings. Smaller aircraft will generally have cables that stretch from the flaps, ailerons, and other control surfaces on the wings, directly into the cockpit where they can be manipulated using the flight yoke. Mechanical systems mostly depend on physical force applied to the yoke and are similar to non-power steering in a car. Due to their direct physical connection to parts on the outside of the aircraft, pilots receive tactile feedback about the condition of the plane. Being able to feel vibration, resistance, and other factors can signify potential problems, such as turbulence or nearing a stall.
On larger aircraft it is usually too difficult to operate with only mechanical controls, so hydraulic systems are often used to add power to the pilot’s inputs. The hydraulics are often connected to servos which respond to input from the flight yoke and start the movement in the pistons. Servos are simple motors which can add precise movement to a mechanism, and they are able to rotate in either direction at specific degrees of rotation. While hydraulics are effective for aiding the control of large planes, they also add a large amount of weight which can detract from other flight characteristics like cargo capacity and fuel economy. As a result, commercial airliners and other massive aircraft have fly-by-wire systems that replace the cabling between the cockpit and control surfaces with an electronic interface. In these systems, a signal is sent from the flight yoke to electronically controlled actuators on the control surfaces, moving the flaps as desired. To compensate for the lack of direct feedback, fly-by-wire systems often have electronic feedback capabilities that will cause the yoke to respond as if it were physically connected. For example, the system might cause the yoke to shake when nearing a stall, simulating a traditional flight control system.
Regardless of whether it is mechanically controlled, uses power steering, or depends on a lightweight electronics interface, every flight yoke must be regularly checked to ensure proper fit and function onboard an aircraft. If you are an airplane owner or operator looking for top-grade components for your vessel, you can depend on ASAP Aviation Unlimited for quality parts that are suited to your specific requirements. As a leading supplier of aircraft tools and maintenance equipment, we are well equipped to handle all your fulfillment needs, even providing expedited shipping to handle strict deadlines and AOG situations. Begin the purchasing process with us today to see all that ASAP Aviation Unlimited can do as your strategic sourcing partner!
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