Why are the throttles of aircraft such as the Twin Otter placed on the overhead panel?

flyingfisch
  • Why are the throttles of aircraft such as the Twin Otter placed on the overhead panel? flyingfisch

    Some aircraft such as the DHC-6 Twin Otter, have their throttles on the overhead panel:

    Is there a reason that they are not on a center console between the pilot seats or mounted to the panel like on most airplanes?

    It seems like it would be more comfortable for the pilot if he didn't have to reach up to change the power settings.

  • In the case of a high wing multi engine plane, like the Grumman seaplanes, the distance and a less convoluted path for a steel cable from the throttle control to the engine may have a lot to do with this design choice. However, this is a guess completely unencumbered with facts.....

  • I think it was for two reasons:

    • It makes for straight path for the controls to reach the engines, as all of these are fly by cable. Many of these aircraft where also designed for harsh climates, so I imagine it's an advantage to have less pulleys and other things which might rust and require maintenance.
    • There is very little space to place the throttles further down, especially with the control column mounted on the DHC6 Twin Otter where it is. If you did want a pedestal, you'd have to seperate the control columns, requiring further mechanical components, and you'd have to route the engine cables upwards, both of which would be undesirable.

    Twin Otter Cockpit

    As you mentioned, there are downsides. Commonly mentioned ones are:

    • It is not particularly comfortable to have you armed raised for an extended period of time, and you lose some sensitivity in it.
    • You hope that the other pilot used his deodorant that morning.

    Other somewhat similar aircraft which use this configuration are the PBY Catalina and Grumman Goose. Another one is the Avro York heavy transport aircraft.

  • Overhead throttles are a pretty common thing in seaplanes (see the picture in Manfred's answer).

    This actually came up as an EAA Young Eagles FAQ and in addition to the reasons Manfred gave the Grumman engineer they spoke to gave an explanation I'd not heard before:

    …first and foremost, the reason the throttle are overhead is due to a physiological issue related to the g-forces encountered during water landings. At times, forces as high as 3 Gs can be registered on contact with the water, and by having the throttles hanging down from a pivot point above, it's nearly impossible for the hand of the pilot to bend the throttle.
    When the downward force is encountered, the pilot's hands will move downward as well, so the force is applied to the throttle in a way that will not damage the linkage, and it will not likely result in an abrupt throttle position change. With a panel mounted throttle, it's likely that a higher-G landing on the water (or on the deck of a carrier) would result in a bent throttle.

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