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F-16 simulator side-stick controller functional allocation
F-16 simulator throttle functional allocation

HOTAS, an acronym of Hands On Throttle-And-Stick, is the name given to the concept of placing buttons and switches on the throttle lever and flight control stick in an aircraft's cockpit, allowing pilots to access vital cockpit functions and fly the aircraft without having to remove their hands from the controls. Application of the concept was pioneered with the Ferranti AIRPASS radar and gunsight control system used by the English Electric Lightning[1][2] and is widely used on all modern fighter aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the A-10A/A-10C and others.

HOTAS is a shorthand term which refers to the pattern of controls in the modern fighter aircraft cockpit. Having all critical switches on the stick and throttle allows the pilot to keep both "hands on throttle-and-stick". Used in combination with a Heads-Up Display (HUD), the pilot can focus on flying the aircraft, manipulating sensors, and engaging targets rather than looking for controls in the cockpit. The goal is to improve pilots' situational awareness, their ability to manipulate switch and button controls in turbulence, under stress, or during high G-force maneuvers, to improve reaction time, to minimize instances when hands must be removed from one or the other of the aircraft's controls to use another aircraft system, and reduce total time spent doing so.

This system gives the pilot the ability to manipulate all the radar's important functions without moving the hands away from the stick or throttle.[3] Other functions are incorporated such as radio communications switch, chaff and flare countermeasure activation, speed brake controls, nose wheel steering, and aerial refueling disconnect. Each aircraft is unique and has a design specific to the air frame. For instance, the F-15E Strike Eagle throttle incorporates FLIR options as opposed to the F-16 simulator diagrams as shown.[4]


In the modern military aircraft cockpit the HOTAS concept is sometimes enhanced by the use of Direct Voice Input to produce the so-called "V-TAS" concept.

Viewing directionEdit

A further enhancement are helmet mounted display systems such as the "Schlem" used in the MiG-29 and Su-27, which allow the pilot to control various systems using his line of sight, and to guide missiles by simply looking at the target.

Steering wheelsEdit

The concept has also been applied to the steering wheels of modern open wheel racecars, like those used in Formula One[5] and the Indy Racing League.

Some consumer cars also have controls for changing radio stations and answering car phone calls mounted on the steering wheel, removing the need for the driver to look away and operate these controls elsewhere.


HOTAS has been adapted for game controllers used for flight simulators (a popular system is the Falcon 4.0 based on the F-16).[6]



  1. ^ English Electric Lightning -Supersonic Interceptor. 2007-04-24. Retrieved 2010-09-12 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "Ferranti Developing Radar Fire Control System for Foreign Jets". Aviation Week: 107–108. July 11, 1960.
  3. ^ SimHQcom (2009-09-15), Logitech G940 HOTAS Review - Coolie Hat Radar in F4:AF, retrieved 2018-05-03
  4. ^ Serflek, Szabolcs. " Strike Eagle reference and resources - - Pilot Throttle". Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  5. ^ "The Aviationist » HOTAS". Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  6. ^ "Hands-On Throttle And Stick - Falconpedia". Retrieved 2018-05-03.

Other sourcesEdit

  • McCarty, W. D.; Sheasby, S.; Amburn, P.; Stytz, M. R.; Switzer, C. (1994). "A virtual cockpit for a distributed interactive simulation". Computer Graphics and Applications. 14 (1): 49–54. doi:10.1109/DASC.1993.283529.
  • Stein, Michael; Sandl, Peter (2012). Information Ergonomics: A Theoretical Approach and Practical Experience in Transportation. Springer. p. 175. ISBN 3642258409.
  • Moir, Ian; Seabridge, Allan (2012). Design and Development of Aircraft Systems. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 113–115. ISBN 1118469135.