Collective Pitch Control and Throttle Control

in Helicopter Flight Controls

Collective Pitch Control

The collective pitch control (or simply “collective” or “thrust lever”) is located on the left side of the pilot’s seat and is operated with the left hand. The collective is used to make changes to the pitch angle of the main rotor blades and does this simultaneously, or collectively, as the name implies. As the collective pitch control is raised, there is a simultaneous and equal increase in pitch angle of all main rotor blades; as it is lowered, there is a simultaneous and equal decrease in pitch angle. This is done through a series of mechanical linkages and the amount of movement in the collective lever determines the amount of blade pitch change. [Figure 3-1] An adjustable friction control helps prevent inadvertent collective pitch movement.


Figure 3-1. Raising the collective pitch control increases the pitch angle, or angle of incidence, by the same amount on all blades.

Figure 3-1. Raising the collective pitch control increases the pitch angle, or angle of incidence, by the same amount on all blades.

Changing the pitch angle on the blades changes the angle of incidence on each blade. With a change in angle of incidence comes a change in drag, which affects the speed or revolutions per minute (rpm) of the main rotor. As the pitch angle increases, angle of incidence increases, drag increases, and rotor rpm decreases. Decreasing pitch angle decreases both angle of incidence and drag, while rotor rpm increases. In order to maintain a constant rotor rpm, which is essential in helicopter operations, a proportionate change in power is required to compensate for the change in drag. This is accomplished with the throttle control or governor, which automatically adjusts engine power.

Throttle Control

The function of the throttle is to regulate engine rpm. If the correlator or governor system does not maintain the desired rpm when the collective is raised or lowered, or if those systems are not installed, the throttle must be moved manually with the twist grip in order to maintain rpm. The throttle control is much like a motorcycle throttle, and works in virtually the same way. Twisting the throttle to the left increases rpm; twisting the throttle to the right decreases rpm. [Figure 3-2]

Figure 3-2. A twist grip throttle is usually mounted on the end of the collective lever. The throttles on some turbine helicopters are mounted on the overhead panel or on the floor in the cockpit.

Figure 3-2. A twist grip throttle is usually mounted on the end of the collective lever. The throttles on some turbine helicopters are mounted on the overhead panel or on the floor in the cockpit.

51l0aN891BL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Are you ready to start your journey learning to fly helicopters? Learning to Fly Helicopters, Second Edition, provides details on the technical and practical aspects of rotarywing flight. Written in a conversational style, the book demystifies the art and science of helicopter flying.


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