Tutorial: HOTAS configuration

From EECH Central
Jump to: navigation, search
The Saitek's X-52 HOTAS
This page is for those how are trying to set up their HOTAS as realistic as possible. Though the tendency of the this page is meant to be a neutral, subjective elements can't be avoided.

Real life counterparts

A survey of AH-64A flightstick's controls
A survey of AH-64A gunner's controls

The the pictures on the right is telling that the gunner has their controls on an instrumental panel. While the pilot is using is his flightsticks for all his input.

As can see on the flightstick, most buttons are assigned for navigation and piloting purposes. The buttons on the instrumental panel is all about target acquisition and designation.

List of functions

Here's a complete list of available controls. While the HOTAS is the simulation counterpart of the flightstick, the keyboard stays with the job to substitute the instrumental panel.

instrumental panel/keyboard

  • TADS (target acquisition and designation)
  • weapon operation
    • weapon selecting
    • launching missiles1
  • defensive systems2
    • jammers
    • flare / chaffs
  • TSD settings
  • MFD operation
  • engine startup controls

1 It's somewhat anti-climax to launch not with the trigger. Frankly, most missiles are launched with a button press, not with a trigger action. Though rockets should be handled by the pilot.
2 This is crucial for the player's survivability and should be accessible via the HOTAS. In demanding situations he has to pilot the helicopter and deploy countermeasures. While this is latter is done by the gunner in real life.


  • movement controls (cyclic, collective, rudder)
  • cyclic trim / clear trim
  • hover
  • stable hover
  • altitude hold, altitude increase, altitude decrease
  • landing gear
  • autopilot
  • NV
  • HUD
    • transition
    • bob-up
  • acknowledge master caution
  • HUD
  • launching rockets


Communications is done by a headset withvoice recognition. Research needed.

Head movement

Head movement is done by TrackIR. Without a TrackIR, buttons leftover can be assigned for this purpose.


Outside view cameras shouldn't be accessed when pursuing realism.

Inaccuracy factors

Several reasons for inaccurate configuration:

  • The hardware button configuration isn't the same as the real life counterpart. Buttons has to be assigned different.
  • HOTASes are primarily designed for fighter simulation, not helicopter's.
    • Helicopters got a lifting arm for collective input, not a throttle slider.
    • Also an helicopter pilot have to do a lot of collective workload, which is not the case with a fighter's throttle. The throttle is less suited for that job.
      A rocker on the throttle.
    • The HOTAS' rocker input is inconvenient for helicopter pilots. Helicopter rely much on the yawing ability, fighters do not.
  • In real life there's a pilot and a gunner. Doing both jobs by one player forces some adjustments in the HOTAS settings.
In the game the flight dynamics are more user friendly than in real life. See it as a gift in helping the user to joggle between pilot and gunner's job.
  • user preferences

All these anomalies making it impossible to setup the HOTAS as the real life counterpart. Never the less is here a short guide to make it as realistic as possible.

See also

External links