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Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Samuel Seidel, Jul 21, 2021.
How much experience should I receive before flying from the right seat?
Just go do it.
If you're uncomfortable have a pilot in the left seat but it's probably not as awkward as you think it is. You're landing might seem a little funky but there's really no reason for that. Just keep the center line between your knees.
PIC on the left is just a habit. In helicopters, being a European invention, PIC is the right.
Right seat is not as different as most think. Of greatest concern for me is muscle memory in a tight situation. Once you get some hours down, it's no problem (millions of CFIs switch-hit all the time).
I'm thinking about a center stick plane (bushcat). In test flying it, I was much more comfortable in the right seat, with my left hand on the stick and the right hand on the armrest/throttle. There are some LSAs with interesting solutions. The Australian-built Jabiru, for instance, has a mirror image cockpit (dual plunger throttle on the far left and far right. There are also two flap switches, left and right as well as mirror HSIs).
Generally, the instrumentation is the fly in the Metamucel. Primary flight instruments tend to be crowded over on the left hand side of the cockpit.
Still, we're an adaptable species.
I needed about 5 hours instruction before I felt comfortable doing it solo.
I would encourage you to not go jump into the right seat. As the previous posted noted when I worked on my CFI it also took me about 5 hours to feel comfortable in the right seat. It was far less natural than I had ever expected.
It’s really only the takeoff and landing that feel different in the right seat. Fly with a CFI or another pilot you trust to jump in and take control if needed.
Using left hand for throttle and right hand for yoke was the main difference for me.
My landings are actually better from the right seat. This is because I am right-eye dominant (at least I think that's the reason).
Stalls (for me) were very very very different. The "push your right hand all the way forward" technique did not work very well.
I did a bunch of time right seat as safety pilot for a buddy who was working on IR. On a lot of those flights he would fly an approach or three under the hood, then he would hand me the foggles and I'd fly an approach right seat while I was there to keep my currency up. If it was the last approach, I would also land. Took 3 or 4 landings before right seat landings were same as my left seat landings. After that, I didn't bat an eye at putting non-pilot passengers in the left seat if they wanted to sit there. But IIRC, the flying club president wanted me to go up with a CFI once and log 'right seat instruction' to keep the insurance company happy. Since he was one of the CFI's I suspect that was as much him looking for an excuse to take a burger flight with me as any insurance concerns. I also suspect it was also a bit of 'if I let you do it without a checkout, I have to let everyone do it' since I'm sure he knew I was perfectly capable of it doing it safely at that point.
The left hand/right hand thing didn't really slow me down at all. But I was flying for a living at that point and was constantly switching between left hand throttle/right hand stick planes and left hand stick/right hand throttle planes so I pretty comfortable instantly switching from one to the other.
Just make sure you remember if your aero-plane has toe brakes on both sides if you are landing from the right.... ask me how I know
As a student I flew left and right seat, front and back seat model permitting. The earlier in the process you try it the easier it will be down the line.
I suppose you could call the helicopter a “European invention” on the grounds that Igor Sikorsky was 12 and still living in Russia when he first had the idea of building a helicopter, but that has nothing to do with what side the PIC sits. Russians don’t drive on the left side of the road like Brits do.
It's no problem if you have no problems.
My seat stop broke once at an airport (during preflight, luckily). I just moved to the right seat and flew. There is nothing to it.
The flying club I was in has a right seat checkout requirement. It was required if you wanted to fly right seat safety pilot for a left seater under the hood.
You know, until I saw what you just wrote i have always thought "what would I do..." if that happened. It had never crossed my mind to just hop over to the other side. I hope I'm the only one who had never thought of that...duhhh.
Why? A safety pilot is not manipulating the flight controls, they are simply looking for traffic while the flying pilot is under the hood. Or was the right seat checkout required if you were acting as PIC front the right seat?
A few hours with someone in the left, you’re good. Honestly I would not do that for the first time without a left seater.
Once you’ve mastered it, it’s a non-issue. I’ve transferred between airlines (switching seats for seniority) without issue…. But it did take about 5 hours to totally acclimate.
Lots of possibilities with a flying club. Could have had a member bend an airplane while flying safety pilot because he or she did the landing and botched it up not necessarily because of being in the right but more because he or she just sucked at landing. Could be a club president or safety officer who just doesn't trust that their members will be able to get it right the first time on their own and wants to be extra cautious. Could be the club governing body is just greedy and requires check flights for everything imaginable as a means to get more hours on the planes and more revenue in the coffers. Lots of possibilities with a club.
Nothing in 91.109(c)(1) requires the safety pilot to manipulate the flight controls. Why would the safety pilot do the landing? If they're operating the flight controls, they're no longer the safety pilot.
Because they want to.
Agreed. Your question was why would a flying club have such a policy. I gave some possible reasons. Nowhere in my answer did I claim the reasons would make sense. Which is the point I was making.
Flying clubs can be one of the most affordable ways to get access to very good airplanes. But its not always without down sides. Inane policies that don't enhance safety created by individuals who are concerned about safety issues that only exist in their minds are one of the potential downsides.
Yeah, no brakes on the passenger side in a Mooney.
I've been in flying clubs, I know how they work, and the inane policies that result from stupid pilot tricks and well-intentioned board members. My question was not a question in general, but a question of why @IK04's flying club had the policy.
If the club wanted to make a rule about people in the right seat manipulating the flight controls, fine. But to make a rule about safety pilots getting checked out to fly...it doesn't make sense-- safety pilots don't manipulate flight controls; they look outside the window.
Think of the children......
100% agree, it doesn't make sense. I guess I did not realize your only interest was hearing an answer from IK04 on the reason for the policy in that particular club. My apologies.
You’ll fly fine in the right seat after a few hours. Sight pictures will be slightly off than what you’re used to but you’ll get it down after a few hours.
Grab a CFI (we spend most of our time on that side anyway...), go do it. As many have mentioned, it's not the straight and level that needs 'readjusting' your sight lines, but the take off (relatively easy) and landings that will require some adjustment. Your first few may either leave you wondering whether you can use the airplane again or be things of beauty. Like most of our landings...some are beautiful, some are arrivals accompanied by sound and fury.
Don't overthink it...if you want to learn, just do it.
Did it this morning. Weird for sure!
That's what happened to me.
Seat got fixed this morning. It was nice to fly back left seat.
Going strictly by the book, if your POH lists the left seat as required operational equipment, having it broken would render the aircraft unairworthy. That applies to the passenger seatbelt of every C172 I’ve ever flown as well, even if the seat is to be unoccupied. Of course, inspecting unoccupied seatbelts isn’t on the preflight checklist either, so….
I tried the “just do it” approach with a fellow pilot in the left seat. Scared myself bad enough trying to get it lined up to land that I went around and let him do it. I later tried it with a CFI in the left seat who gave me some coaching, and got used to it. We do have an EFIS on the left side and nothing on the right, so if I were going to do it regularly I’d want another screen on the right, maybe something like an AV30. OK, airspeed and altimeter would be enough, but when you’re all glass it wouldn’t make much sense to do it that way.
Anyway…. I personally would not recommend just jumping in the right seat solo to try it out.
can you further explain your scenario?
True and some aircraft have certification limitations against the left seat being empty or in certain flight conditions. All the Cessnas we have disallow the autopilot if the pilot isn’t in the left seat (it’s under the limitations section on the afm).
once you get used to flying from the right then do your cfii and have to fly approaches to actual where your instruments are on the other side. That takes a bit of faith.
Sure glad I wasn’t swilling coffee when I read that.
Many POH's & FM's state where the pilot sits. An aircraft that I'm familiar with states in Section one, limitations, "The minimum crew for VFR is one pilot seated in the right seat." It's a helo and some switches and controls are reachable only from the right seat.
The day came when the R windshield just fractured on an aircraft sitting on the ground. They just do that. A ferry permit was issued permitting the ferry pilot to fly it home from the left seat. I think there were IAS limits on the permit.
OK, I'll clarify that both pilots are alternating flying under the hood and switching safety pilot duties. We did that all the time in extremely busy airspace and it was the '70s, when the sky was full of GA airplanes and knucklehead students.
Also it was required for CFI candidates to practice all the maneuvers from the right seat either solo or with another pilot playing test monkey in the left seat.
It was a school club and the requirement was not created by anyone on the board. It was made by the faculty advisors.
One thing to consider right seat in Cherokee’s is the fuel selector is on the left side. If you fly right seat the person in the left seat must know the operation of it. Always thought about this in discovery flights in Cherokee’s with a novice in the left seat and instructor right seat. Would be hard for the instructor to reach around the left seat person’s legs to get to the fuel selector if there is a problem.
It may be a nothing burger for you or you might want a few hours getting acclimated with another pilot in left seat. I would recommend having someone with you until you know where you are on the spectrum.
There is a symmetry in muscle memory. My first landing in the right seat, I reduced power with the knob closest to the yoke. The engine ceased producing power and noise. Pushing that knob back to the limit returned power, I looked at what I was doing, and pulled back on the third knob over, and RPM dropped the amount that I expected. The landing was fairly normal.
Two lessons here,.
If you operate ANY control, and something unexpected happens, undo it.
First flights from the right seat, a pilot, not necessarily an instructor, is a valuable safety asset. Be sure to note in your log each time you do fly from the right seat, in case Murphy provides an unexpected outcome unrelated to which seat you were occupying. You will then have a defense against claims that the events were the result from your choice of seats.