Aircraft flight control systems are an essential part of any aircraft. If we were without flight control systems, the aircraft would never get where it needs to go. Understanding aircraft flight control systems is essential to understanding how planes work.
There are several specific components to aircraft flight control systems, including cockpit controls, flight control surfaces, connecting linkages, as well as a variety of other mechanisms that are used to control an aircraft’s direction during flight.
The first type of flight control is the cockpit control. Cockpit controls consist of the control column, or the control yoke, which is often attached to the control column. The control column or control yoke is used for roll, it is used for pitch and it is used to move the elevators and the other flight components up, down, left and right, which allows the plane to turn backwards or forwards. There are also rudder pedals in the cockpit. Rudder pedals move, of course, the rudder. The left pedal moves the rudder to the left. Finally, there are also throttle controls inside the cockpit that control the engine’s speed and give the aircraft thrust.
There are also mechanical flight control systems. Mechanical flight control systems are the most basic of the methods of controlling an aircraft. These are the earlier form of aircraft controls and they are still used in smaller aircraft where there aren’t substantial aerodynamic forces.
Hydro mechanical is the next category of aircraft flight control systems. Hydro mechanical controls have two parts: a mechanical circuit and a hydraulic circuit. When a pilot moves the hydro mechanical controls, the circuit opens and the servo valve in the hydraulic circuit opens as well. This type of control is often used in older jets as well as high performance airplanes.
Another type of aircraft flight control systems is the fly by wire control system. Fly by wire control systems are, generally speaking, a combination of electrical control circuits and computers. These types of control systems save weight on the aircraft, they improve the reliability of the control system and they utilize the computer to help mitigate some of the unplanned characteristics of a control system.
There are also analog and digital flight control systems. Analog control systems require the pilot to use electrically controlled servo valves operated by an electric controller. The pilot then flies largely by feel. Digital control systems rely almost entirely on a computer to fly the aircraft.