Helicopter controls with a difference: in test flights with the research helicopter FHS (Flying Helicopter Simulator), a modified Eurocopter EC 135, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Braunschweig replaced the conventional control system with two active sidesticks for the first time.
Due to its special flight handling characteristics, controlling a helicopter is an extremely complex affair. While the pilot controls vertical movement using the collective pitch lever and uses the foot pedals to adjust for the varying turning forces generated by the main rotor, he or she controls pitch and roll movements using the cyclic stick (centre stick). In the flights carried out by DLR, a sidestick mounted to the pilot's left replaced the operating element for vertical movement. An additional sidestick installed to the pilot's right took over cyclic pitch control, which is responsible for horizontal movements of the helicopter.
The pilot can directly enter commands for the horizontal and vertical control of the helicopter via the sidesticks. In the centre of the image, the conventional centre stick – not used in experimental operation – is visible.