Cyclic Pitch Control

in Helicopter Flight Controls

The cyclic pitch control is usually projected upward from the cockpit floor, between the pilot’s legs or between the two pilot seats in some models. [Figure 3-4] This primary flight control allows the pilot to fly the helicopter in any direction of travel: forward, rearward, left, and right. The total lift force is always perpendicular to the tip-path plane of the main rotor. The purpose of the cyclic pitch control is to tilt the tip-path plane in the direction of the desired horizontal direction. The cyclic controls the rotor disk tilt versus the horizon, which directs the rotor disk thrust to enable the pilot to control the direction of travel of the helicopter.

Figure 3-4. The cyclic pitch control may be mounted vertically between the pilot’s knees or on a teetering bar from a single cyclic located in the center of the helicopter. The cyclic can pivot in all directions.

Figure 3-4. The cyclic pitch control may be mounted vertically between the pilot’s knees or on a teetering bar from a single cyclic located in the center of the helicopter. The cyclic can pivot in all directions.

The rotor disk tilts in the same direction the cyclic pitch control is moved. If the cyclic is moved forward, the rotor disk tilts forward; if the cyclic is moved aft, the disk tilts aft, and so on. Because the rotor disk acts like a gyro, the mechanical linkages for the cyclic control rods are rigged in such a way that they decrease the pitch angle of the rotor blade approximately 90° before it reaches the direction of cyclic displacement, and increase the pitch angle of the rotor blade approximately 90° after it passes the direction of displacement. An increase in pitch angle increases AOA; a decrease in pitch angle decreases AOA. For example, if the cyclic is moved forward, the AOA decreases as the rotor blade passes the right side of the helicopter and increases on the left side. This results in maximum downward deflection of the rotor blade in front of the helicopter and maximum upward deflection behind it, causing the rotor disk to tilt forward.

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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