Boeing Planes Have Yokes and Airbus Planes Have Side Sticks. Why?


08 Oct 2022

The cockpit of any plane contains a variety of controls, information panels, and other components. However, a yoke or a side stick might be present, depending on the manufacturer. Boeing aircraft use yokes to steer, while Airbus aircraft use side sticks.

Representative | Airways Magazine

However, why is that so? How does it affect the aircraft's performance?

Let's analyze.

From the vault

Prior to the advent of the A320 family, a central yoke was present in every aircraft's cockpit. The yoke was the main device used by pilots to manually operate the aircraft's systems. For a very long time, every type of aircraft—from the turboprop to the 747—used the yoke as the industry standard.

Yoke | Representative | collectSPACE

Airbus decided to change the A320's central yoke for a side stick in 1985, revolutionizing commercial flight. Fighter jets like the F-16 or Rafale were the only ones having side sticks up until that moment. Airbus chose to include the side stick along with the new "fly-by-wire" technology, which swapped out manual flight controls for computer-based ones.

An airbus sidestick | Source

Why did Airbus choose to do so? Perhaps, there was a business angle to it?

To end the 737's monopoly on the narrowbody market, Airbus sought a solution. By adding the side stick to its aircraft, Airbus gave airlines the A320, a fundamentally different aircraft from the B737.

The side stick

Thanks to the new computer-based controls, the single-handed side stick improved flying comfort and provided pilots with greater space to interact with modern information systems.

Representative | Airbus

As a result of Airbus continuing to employ the side stick on all following models, this configuration can be seen on almost all Airbus aircraft today. Given the absence of a larger yoke, Airbus was able to create a redesigned cockpit with a focus on computers and screens.

The yoke

Given the popularity of the 737 and 747, Boeing was satisfied with sticking with the same cockpit layout. However, this does not imply that Boeing has not incorporated the more recent "fly-by-wire" technology. In the past three decades, Boeing has created two "blank-sheet" aeroplanes: the B777 and the B787. These two vehicles are fly-by-wire.

Representative | Aircraft Interiors International

But instead of sidesticks, the Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft feature yokes. Even in its most recent designs, Boeing has been outspoken about the benefits of the yoke. The yokes are mechanically connected, so if either pilot makes an input, which ordinarily shouldn't happen, the other pilot can feel it. On the other hand, mechanically connecting sidesticks is not practicable.

Evidently, Boeing does not believe that the yoke should be abandoned. As long as the business can keep innovating, there is minimal need to make fundamental design modifications. There have also been disastrous incidents involving pilots of sidestick-equipped aircraft who were unaware that they were out of trim. This concerned situations where the airplane changed to flight regulations in which it did not auto-trim. Even though these occurrences are quite uncommon, Boeing avoids using sidesticks because of this.

Of course, Airbus and other makers of sidestick-equipped aircraft have systems and processes to tackle these issues.

There are currently sidestick-equipped airplanes flying around that do address these problems. They are referred to as "active sidesticks" in the industry. The Gulfstream G500 business jet was the first to employ them. It makes use of a mechanism created by BAE, who once produced sidesticks for military jets. There is no mechanical connection between the sidesticks in the G500. However, servos on both of them connect them electronically.

G500 Cockpit | Representative | Pinterest

Additionally, there is a company in France by the name of Ratier-Figeac that is a branch of Collins Aerospace in the US. Collins is a Raytheon subsidiary in and of itself. Since the 1980s, when Airbus first introduced the A320 family, Ratier-Figeac has been producing its sidesticks. Sukhoi received them from it as well for use in its SuperJet (SSJ100).

ALSO READ - The Russian rival to the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 completes rigorous testing under sub-zero temperatures

Additionally, Ratier-Figeac supplied sidesticks for the MS-21 to Irkut/UAC until recently. The MS-21's future is currently quite questionable. However, the MS-21 had active sidesticks in the configuration that Russia approved before the invasion of Ukraine. It would be the first airliner to have them if it were to really enter service in this configuration.

Side stick Vs Yoke- Which is better?

The audience seems to be divided on this and understandably so.

Sidesticks would also save a significant amount of weight if Boeing used them. Installing two sidesticks is far simpler than setting up two floor-mounted yokes and all of their mechanical connections. Sidesticks give pilots a better ergonomic reach to their screens.

Representative | Source

With their benefits for ergonomics, weight savings, and pilot feedback, may active sidesticks cause Boeing to shift course? To discover, we will have to wait. Analysts predict that Boeing must introduce its next aircraft within the next two years to compete with Airbus.

ALSO READ - Two aerospace companies, Two different strategies


COVER: Source

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Virgin Atlantic ceases flights to Hong Kong

Jinen Gada

07 Oct 2022

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. said it would close its office in Hong Kong and end Hong Kong flight service to and from London’s Heathrow Airport, a sign of the hurdles facing the Chinese city as it seeks to regain its reputation as an aviation hub.

The British airline decided to suspend its Heathrow-Hong Kong services and not resume flights in March 2023, after 30 years in the Asian city due to issues related to the closure of Russian airspace.

Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has led several airlines, which were already reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to suspend flights and plan longer routes to avoid Russian and Ukrainian airspace.

Virgin Atlantic quits Hong Kong.

Virgin Atlantic had halted flights to Hong Kong since December last year and several airlines have not routed flights through Russia's airspace after the invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier in the day, Bloomberg reported that around 46 Virgin Atlantic jobs will be impacted, including office staff and cabin crew, due to the decision. 

"Significant operational complexities due to the ongoing Russian airspace closure have contributed to the commercial decision not to resume flights in March 2023 as planned." Richard Branson, airline founder.

Virgin will also close its office in Hong Kong, with Bloomberg reporting that 46 jobs are expected to be impacted. Customers booked to travel from March 2023 will be contacted by the airline today and offered a refund, voucher or the option to rebook on an alternative route.

Meanwhile, British Airways has confirmed details of the resumption of its flights from London to Tokyo and Hong Kong, following the easing of travel restrictions in both Japan and the Chinese Special Administrative Region.

(With Inputs from Reuters)

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Saudi Arabia to launch a new airline RIA soon, eyeing several aircraft

Jinen Gada

07 Oct 2022

Saudi Arabia is getting a new USD30 billion national carrier - said to be named RIA (Saudi Arabia) - is set to launch during the final quarter of the year on regional routes using B737 MAX and A320 Family aircraft, according to unnamed sources cited by ArabianBusiness.

As reported, the venture is backed by the sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF), which launched its own lessor, AviLease, in July 2022. RIA forms part of the Kingdom’s USD100 billion investment in aviation flowing from its “Vision 2023” strategy to diversify its economy and become less reliant on oil.

Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas has been tipped as the top choice to head RIA, according to well-placed sources.

Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas has been tipped as the top choice to head RIA

Saudi Arabia reportedly has earmarked USD30 billion for RIA, which will be based out of Riyadh to attract global transfer traffic and tourism, competing with major carriers in the United Arab Emirates, such as Emirates, as well as Qatar Airways.

The most-awaited new airline in the region launched by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund might be named “RIA”, according to a new report.

The new multi-billion-dollar international airline will become Saudi Arabia’s second national carrier and will be based in Riyadh. Arabian Business quoted well-informed sources that “RIA” is being tipped as the name for the new Saudi carrier.

ALSO READ - Saudi Arabia’s new airline to be named ‘RIA’

Saudi Arabia to launch a new airline RIA by 2024

“The brand-new airline aims to do what Emirates did in a quarter of the timescale. It’s unprecedented in the history of aviation. The airline has yet to appoint a CEO – whoever takes the job will have to deliver the most ambitious targets you can imagine.”The report said.

The Kingdom is targeting 30 million international transit passengers by 2030, compared to under four million currently. The report suggests this will mean the new carrier will eventually need to operate over 150 routes globally, across Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia, which necessitates a USD 30 billion investment.

“Currently, about 60% of all air traffic into Saudi Arabia comes from the Middle East. Asia-Pacific is around 20%, Africa is just 10% – this is where the huge potential is.” Sources said.

The introduction of a new airline, which will operate alongside the national carrier Saudia formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines — will play a major role in the government’s plan to diversify its economy, boost tourism and reduce reliance on oil.

With inputs from The Saudi Gazette.

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Asteria Aerospace A200 gets DGCA’s micro-category drone certification

Jinen Gada

07 Oct 2022

A full-stack drone technology company called Asteria Aerospace Limited announced on Thursday that it was the first company to receive micro-category drone type certification for its A200 drone from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) by the Drone Rules 2021.

On Thursday, Asteria Aerospace Limited announced that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had awarded it with India's first micro-category drone type certification for its locally developed A200 drone.

Asteria's A200 drone has been developed for surveying and mapping applications in GIS, agriculture, construction, mining and other industries.

DGCA issues the first micro-category drone certification to Asteria Aerospace under Drone Rules 2021.

The A200 has a survey-grade GPS and a high-resolution imaging camera which can be used to accurately map land parcels, making it ideal for projects like the SVAMITVA scheme, in which the government is using drones to digitize and establish clear ownership of property in rural parts of the country.

The A200 drone has an all up weight of 2 kg with a cruising speed of 35 km/hr giving an endurance of 40 mins and a range of 2 km.

Asteria’s A200 drone is a cost-effective, micro-sized multirotor drone offering 40 minutes of flight time for agriculture and GIS survey applications. It is compact, portable, DGCA-certified, and has an optional PPK survey-grade GPS for precision surveys.

The DGCA categorises drones based on their weight. Drones with an all-up weight of 250 gm to 2 kg fall under the micro category of drones.Credit: Asteria Aerospace.

“It is a matter of great pride for us to receive the first micro category drone certification from the DGCA. The certification makes Asteria’s A200 drone fully compliant with the Drone Rules 2021, which is a requirement for drone operations in India. We are committed to leading the way in providing best-in-class, compliant drones to our customers to fulfil applications at scale.”Neel Mehta, Co-founder and Director of Asteria Aerospace Limited.

Asteria Aerospace designs and develops drone-based solutions to transform enterprise operations using aerial data. For the last 10 years, Asteria has been manufacturing best-in-class, high-performance, reliable and rugged drones.

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Akasa Air completes 2 months of flight operations; to allow pets on board

Radhika Bansal

07 Oct 2022

The country’s new scheduled airline Akasa Air is “well capitalised” and will allow the carrying of domesticated dogs and cats onboard along with passengers from November, according to its senior executives.

At a time when airlines are fighting tariff wars to increase their market share, such consumer-centric initiatives make it convenient for the airlines to tap the market. The airline, which began operations on August 7, also plans to launch international operations in the second half of next year.

Akasa Air CEO Vinay Dube said the airline is well-capitalised and is not looking to have new investors. Dube said the airline’s performance in the 60 days since starting operations has been “satisfying”. Akasa has carried 100,000 passengers in the last 60 days and has a network that features eight destinations.

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“We are very happy, satisfied with… our performance,” he said. Dube also said the airline is “on track” as per plans and that the performance has been satisfying.

The CEO of Akasa Air also expressed gratitude for the government's Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) and noted the importance of the aviation industry's continued recognition by the government.

"We just hope that the government's support extends to startup airlines as well. Startup airlines are operating in the same difficult environment... We will be more than happy to get any kind of government support... I don't know what is on the table. So I can't elaborate," he said.

About airfares, Dube said the airline looks at the affordability of airfares in a much longer time horizon, and "our view is that we will have a high degree of focus on infrastructure." At present, the airline has a total staff of around 800, and about 175 people are joining every month.

The CEO of Akasa Air also expressed gratitude for the government's Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS).

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During the press conference, the company also said it is not concerned about the higher prices of aviation turbine fuel and will continue with its focus on affordable services to passengers.

“Fuel will go up, fuel will go down, that’s not something we should be worried about, we look at the affordability of airfares in a much longer-term horizon,” Akasa’s co-founder and chief executive officer Vinay Dubey said at a press conference.

Jet fuel prices, which constitute a major chunk of an airline’s operational expense have risen about 53% from January to October. Further, a depreciation of the domestic currency is also weighing on the industry given most of their payments are dollar-denominated.

ALSO READ – Big plane order may be placed by Akasa Air in the next 18 months

The airline has placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX planes.

Currently, it has a fleet of six aircraft and the number is expected to touch 18 by March next year. Akasa Air, which currently has 30 daily flights, will start services from Delhi on Friday, October 7. The airline has placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX planes.

ALSO READ - Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s Akasa Air signs deal for 72 Boeing 737 Max planes

Praveen Iyer, Co-Founder plus Chief Commercial Officer, of Akasa Air further added that October 7, will see be the date for the first flight of Akasa Air out of Delhi, to Bangalore. The company expects to see 300 flights per week by October end. Will be connecting more cities with more aircraft coming in, Iyer added.

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"Demand is high but we are 10-12% short on the capacity side when we exited February 2020 versus where we are today in September 2022. We have still not gone to pre-COVID levels on the demand side," Iyer said.

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Akasa Air plans to connect eight cities this year that are Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Chennai, Delhi, Agartala and Guwahati. The airline will be allowing the carrying of pets in cabin and cargo from November.

The airline will be allowing the carrying of pets in cabin and cargo from November.

ALSO READ - Akasa Air had a 53% occupancy rate in its first month of operations

As of August, Akasa has a passenger load factor of about 53%, according to the data shared by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. In September, the company expects its passenger load factor to increase to nearly 80%.

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Will Akasa look at longer-range single aisles in the next order? “This is not a decision we have made as yet. At this point, we are quite satisfied with the range of the B737 MAX 8 (the type ordered). It can do Mumbai-Nairobi, Bengaluru-Hong Kong and has a pretty good range. But we may consider longer-range aircraft but that is not a priority right now,” Vinay Dube said.

Domesticated dogs and cats can travel from November and the bookings in this regard will start from October 15, Co-Founder, Chief Marketing & Experience Officer Belson Coutinho said.

Air India allows up to two pets onboard.

The airline has also collaborated with NGO Umeed for Animals Foundation to incorporate industry best practices for the carriage of animals as well as help pet parents as well as pets to prepare for air travel.

Pets in Indian airlines

While Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet already allow pets on board, IndiGo, Vistara and AirAsia do not offer such a facility unless it's a service animal such as a guide dog for a blind man. SpiceJet’s cargo arm called SpiceXpress also carries pets as freight.

Air India allows up to two pets onboard. These include dogs, cats and birds. However, they cannot be heavier than 5 kg. Pets have to be muzzled and leashed. Airlines often also levy excess baggage charges for carrying pets, however, some like Air India waive the fee for service dogs used by differently-abled passengers.

Service dogs need not be inside a kennel, and are allowed to also lead passengers with impaired vision and hearing. Pets having a larger size or weight will be carried in the cargo hold. Dogs and cats should be at least 8 weeks of age to travel and pregnant pets are not allowed on Air India flights. 

While Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet already allow pets on board, IndiGo, Vistara and AirAsia do not offer such a facility unless it's a service animal such as a guide dog for a blind man.

Jet Airways only accepted birds and rabbits on domestic flights. Passengers will have to book their pets around 24 hours in advance as accompanied baggage within India. The airline allows carrying live animals inside cargo and not in the cabin. The airline further states that it accepts only three pet containers on the B737 aircraft and five containers on A330/B777 aircraft which is also subject to space availability. 

The conditions of carriage are as per the worldwide standard for transporting live animals by commercial animals known as Live Animals Regulations developed by the global airlines body International Air Transport Association.

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Jet Airways hasn't signed an aircraft leasing agreement yet

Radhika Bansal

07 Oct 2022

Jet Airways has not yet finalised or entered into any arrangement related to aircraft, the airline clarified in a response to the Bombay Stock Exchange on October 6.

The airline's statement comes after it was reported that the airline has entered into a lease agreement with Dublin-based lessor Avolon to lease A320 aircraft.

ALSO READ – Jet Airways to lease A320s from Avolon; plans to restart operations by November

Denying the reports the Jalan-Kalrock consortium said that while it is allowed to explore opportunities in the market, considering the regulatory framework of the aviation sector, there should not be any reason for relying upon reports to confirm whether it has finalised a deal to lease aircraft.

Jet Airways hasn't signed an aircraft leasing agreement yet

However, the company or the constituted Monitoring Committee or its authorised representatives have not finalised or approved or entered into any arrangement related to aircraft, as referred in the media reports, the airline said.

Jet Airways has been looking to restart its operations by November this year but has been struggling with payment to its lenders. Jet Airways has already bagged the AOC, and chances are that it will start operations with Airbus A320 aircraft.

"The process of taking decisions related to aircraft/ fleet etc. have regulatory considerations requiring every aircraft to be registered with Indian aviation authorities and such actions will not be taken without proper compliance by the Company. Neither Jet Airways nor its authorized representatives have made any media or public statements in relation to a future fleet of aircraft or lease."Jet Airways

ALSO RAED – Jet Airways’ lenders to get rental earnings from Jalan-Kalrock Consortium

Lenders led by the State Bank of India (SBI) who had approved the resolution plan by the consortium in October 2020 have asked the Jalan Kalrock Consortium to distribute proceeds from aircraft rentals that Jet Airways receives among financing banks.

ALSO READ – Lenders of Jet Airways threaten bankruptcy over aircraft rental revenues

The resolution plan for the revival of Jet Airways was finalised in October 2022 and the plan's implementation was conditional on the validation of Jet Airways' air operator's permit, approval of the business plan and the approval to re-allot all suspended slots including bilateral and air traffic rights to Jet Airways.

Lenders to Jet Airways have agreed to waive two preconditions to facilitate the takeover of the airline by the Jalan-Kalrock consortium.

ALSO RAED – Jet Airways’ lenders to get rental earnings from Jalan-Kalrock Consortium

Recently, lenders to Jet Airways have agreed to waive two preconditions to facilitate the takeover of the airline by the Jalan-Kalrock consortium. In return, the consortium agreed last week to make the first tranche of its payment to lenders to get the stalled deal moving forward.

ALSO READ - Jet Airways to make the first tranche of payment to lenders

However, the plan’s implementation was conditional on the validation of Jet Airways’ air operator’s permit, approval of the business plan and, most critically, the approval to re-allot all suspended slots including bilateral and air traffic rights to Jet Airways.