Workload reduction through steering wheel control for rotorcraft

  • B. I. SchuchardtEmail author
Original Paper


This paper reports on the development and investigation of a steering wheel control concept for highly augmented rotorcraft with fly-by-wire control. The main idea is to use a steering wheel as primary inceptor instead of the conventional centre stick. The existing yaw pedals are reprogrammed to function similar to the accelerator and brake pedals in a car. The height can be controlled either via a conventional collective lever or via switches behind the wheel. An additional eight-way switch in the centre of the wheel is used for horizontal precision manoeuvres in the low-speed regime. A fixed-base simulator study was performed to compare conventional and steering wheel control with respect to pilot workload. Three different user groups participated in the study, namely helicopter pilots, car drivers and test candidates with no experience in either driving or flying. The study showed that, especially for the car drivers, the perceived workload could be reduced when flying a helicopter with a steering wheel.


Steering wheel Workload measurement Rotorcraft Helicopter 



Attitude command


Acceleration command


Active control technology flying helicopter simulator


Air traffic pilot licence (helicopter)


Air vehicle simulator


Commercial pilot licence (helicopter)


German aerospace center


General linear model


National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Private pilot licence (helicopter)


Rate command


Turn coordination


Task Load Index


Translational rate command


Sideslip angle command


Flight path angle command

List of symbols


Degree of freedom


Test size for analysis of variance




Level of significance


Standard deviation


Test size for T test


Error probability


Effect size



This research activity has received funding from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme for the project myCopter—Enabling Technologies for Personal Aerial Transportation Systems under grant agreement no. 266470.


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Copyright information

© Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DLR Institute of Flight Systems, German Aerospace CenterBrunswickGermany

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