Why do pilots sit on the left seat of the cockpit?

Why do pilots sit on the left seat of the cockpit?

Why do pilots sit on the left seat of the cockpit
The pilot on the left and first officer on the right
The pilot and first officer are only two flight crews in most of the modern aircraft. Pilot sits on the left side of the cockpit. And the first officer sits on the right side.

Reason for this goes back to the olden times. In olden times, Most of the aircraft were propeller driven. Propellers were attached in front of the aircraft.
Such aircraft have a tendency to yaw undesirably. This effect is known as slipstream effect. 


What is slipstream effect?

What is slipstream effect?
Slipstream effect
Most single engine Aircraft have clockwise rotating propeller. When propeller rotates, the air around it rotates. As Aircraft progresses, airflow becomes a spiral flow.

This air then hits the vertical stabilizer on the left side. Which makes aircraft to yaw left.

As Aircraft have a tendency to yaw left, it is easy for the pilot to turn Aircraft left. It takes more rudder force to yaw Aircraft right.


Airport Left traffic pattern

Aircraft left traffic pattern
Aircraft left traffic pattern
As it is easy to turn left, The left traffic pattern is standard traffic pattern. It means all the turns in the most of the airport traffic are left. But there are few airports with right traffic pattern.

The pilot keeps the aircraft on the right side of the airway. In olden times, pilots often used the direction of the rails and roads for the navigations. As opposite traffic follows the same rules, they pass each other from left. And hence avoiding any possible head-on collision.

This explains, why a pilot seat on the left side of single Engine propeller aircraft. But what about modern jets? Modern jets follow the same old rules. 


Why do modern plane pilots seat on the left seat of the cockpit?

Moden aircraft - Boeing 747 (Not so modern, but still!)
In most of the modern jets, there is no slipstream effect. But seating on left provides other benefits. According to International Civil Aviation Organization, in a case of a possible head-on collision, both pilots shall take their heading to the right. In this condition, left side seating pilot gets a better view of the other aircraft. This helps the pilot to control aircraft to avoid a collision.
And hence pilots seat on the left side of the cockpit. But it's not always true. Take an example of student pilots. Student pilots are not captain in command but they still seat on the left seat. and instructors seat on the right.



There is one more advantage of the pilot sitting on the left side of the cockpit. Pilot taxi aircraft in such a way that aircraft door is just in front of the airport terminal. In most of the airports, passengers board aircraft from the left side of the aircraft.  Hence, left sitting pilot gets a better view of the terminal building. This helps the pilot to take a better view of wingtip clearance from the terminal building. This ensures pilot that aircraft wings are not hitting airport terminal.

But why do passengers board a plane from the left? Check this article to know the answer.
Passengers board from the left of the aircraft
Do you know? most of the helicopter pilots seat on the right seat of the cockpit!

If you like this article follow us on Instagram to get updates about future articles and exciting aviation content: https://www.instagram.com/aircraftnerds/

Thanks for reading!

why do we board a plane from the left?

Why do we board a plane from left?


why do we board a plane from the left?
Why do we board a plane from left?
If you haven't noticed this while boarding on flights whenever you travel, this title may have shocked you. Yeah, That's true! You always board from the left side of the aircraft. Reason? Because aircraft doors are located on its left side. But why?

Different experts have different explanations for this. 

One such explanation was given by a commercial pilot Andrew Stagg. According to Capt. Andrew, the reason for boarding from the left side of the aircraft goes back to ships. Here is the fun fact! The left side of the ship is known as port while the right side of the ship is known as starboard.

ship boarding from port
Ship port
Actually, in olden times, Helmsman used to steer ships with the help of steering oar. And as most of the people were/are right-handed. Hence, Steering oars were positioned on the right side of the boat. Hence, the right side was called as steerboard. And derived from steerboard, the right side of the boat come to known as starboard. About Port, to avoid obstacles to the steering oar which was on right side of the boat, an embarking and disembarking of the passengers was done from the left side of the boat. And obviously, that was a side of the port. So, left side come to known as a port.

Olden airliners followed this same rule even for the aircraft. Following the tradition, passengers board modern planes from the left.

Passengers boarding from left
Passengers boarding from left
Another explanation was given by US Air Force pilot. According to him, early airports were designed in such a way that aircraft could taxi adjacent to the terminal, stop and board or deboard passengers. From the olden times, pilots seat on the left seat of the cockpit. Keeping boarding door on the left side of the aircraft was convenient for pilots to judge wingtip clearance from the terminal building. Again, this explains boarding from the left side of the aircraft.

aircraft boarding from left
aircraft boarding from left
While passengers board or deboard from the left door, the right side of the aircraft is used for services such as refueling, loading, and unloading, etc. This saves the time of both passengers and ground staff. 

These were the explanations given by the experts. But this produces one more question. Why most pilots sit on the left seat of the cockpit? Here's the explanation for that!

Thanks for reading!