Real Answers from Real Pilots

Yoke Control vs Rudder Control


I have a question about the difference between yoke steering and rudder steering. Whats the difference? Do pilots use the yoke to steer the plane or the rudder pedals? In videos I always see pilots steering with the yolk, if thats true, what is the point of rudder pedals?



Pilots control roll and pitch in the air with the yoke, while the rudders control yaw. On the ground while taxiing, rudders are used to steer the plane.
Check the pic:


Isn’t the tiller used for ground steering though. Hey Chris, could you clarify this for us. @Chris


Hey, sorry! Thought you were referring to small aircraft like the C172 (based on the simplicity of the question). That’s the only plane I’ve had experience with. This would be a better question for someone with real airline experience. :yum:

Edit: Side note, here’s a really cool video demonstration of using the tiller How to steer a Boeing jet on the ground - YouTube

Ben is correct about the basics. In more complex aircraft with a tiller, it has a sharper turn capability but you can still use rudders as well for straightaways or wide turns if you’d like - just like in smaller aircraft. The only thing the yoke can help with on the ground is wind correction.

In the air, a tiller is useless. The yoke is used for pitch and roll while the rudder is for yaw/coordination.

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I should have specified. I am referring to commercial jetliners.


The others have answered this well but I’m not sure they put it all together so I’m going to try. As was said, the tiller is only used on the ground. The reason for this is it has a much greater range of motion the the rudder pedals do and that’s for good reason. On the B717 I fly, the rudder pedals only allow a 17° range for the nosewheel vs the tiller which will give you 82° worth. This obviously allows you to make tighter turns when needed. Maybe not as obvious is you don’t want the rudder to have anywhere near that range as it would surely cause structural damage in flight or a roll over if the nosewheel cranked that hard at takeoff speeds (this is why you don’t touch the tiller until you slow to taxi speed on the ground).

Now in the air the rudders again control yaw (movement around the airplanes vertical axis. Imagine a plane sitting on the ground spinning like a top, that’s yaw). The yoke controls roll (movement around the airplane’s longitudinal axis. One wing comes up, the other goes down, that’s roll). So to answer your question which do you use to turn the plane? The answer is both. If you just used the yoke the plane will turn, however, if you’ve ever seen any of the 827 Fast and Furious movies you know the tighter you make that turn, the more the back of the car wants to “drift” out. It’s the same with the plane. Now while that looks really cool in the movies with cars, we don’t want the back of the plane sliding out on us creating a bunch of drag. We want it to follow the front nicely (like a train). To do that we… you guessed it, need to add some rudder (and get some yaw into the picture). That’s how we make a smooth, “coordinated” and efficient turn. Make sense?

Fyi, the autopilot does this for you.


Thanks for answering.

Of course there’s always an oddball…

Ercoupes typically didn’t have rudder pedals from the factory and are deemed an aircraft that’s near impossible to spin. They are about the only small GA plane that you MUST land in a crab in a crosswind. And the steering is controlled by the yoke.

Back in the day, Airlines always had these things around when they were teaching their pilots to land in the crab. Since most small aircraft have to land with the wing low/slip method. Of course you cannot land a swept wing in a slip as it will loose lift on the wing that’s behind the airframe…