Why Does Joby Aviation’s Air Taxi Reverse Standard Helicopter Inputs?

Joby Aviation S4 air taxi
Credit: Joby Aviation

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Joby Aviation’s S4 air taxi has many impressive features, but I was astonished to read that the left-hand controller moves it horizontally, while the right-hand interceptor moves it vertically. With all of the helicopter pilots who may be piloting this machine, why reverse the standard cyclic and collective inputs?

Senior Propulsion Editor Guy Norris, who wrote the cover story on the S4 in the Sept. 28 edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology, conveyed this question to the company. Joby’s response follows:

“The Joby S4 is an airplane which is also capable of vertical flight. Therefore, it does not operate like a helicopter. The airplane spends the majority of its time on the wing. And through unified augmentation, control inputs made whether on the wing or in thrust-borne lift will respond in a manner which an airplane pilot would expect: back to climb, forward to descend.”

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, based in Los Angeles. Before joining Aviation Week in 2007, Guy was with Flight International, first as technical editor based in the U.K. and most recently as U.S. West Coast editor. Before joining Flight, he was London correspondent for Interavia, part of Jane's Information Group.