Why does Airbus use a side stick instead of a yoke

If you will check the cockpit of Airbus aircraft, they use a side-stick to control the aircraft's movements, instead of a traditional yoke. Instead of like a "steering column" or known as a "yoke" which are found in most commercial aircraft today, Airbus uses like a "joy stick" found at the left and right side of the cockpit, one for the captain and the other for the first officer.

For one, Airbus was not the first aerospace manufacturer that offered the side-stick for pilots. It was General Dynamics who first used the side-stick on their F-16 fighter jets. It proved to be an advantage though as it provided pilots an unobstructed view of the cockpit center console. 

It also freed up one hand, instead of using two hands on the center stick.

According to Simple Flying, the side-stick also provided more advantages for military pilots. Fixed-wing military aircraft designers found that replacing the control column with a side stick offered the following advantages:
  • It created more room in the cockpit
  • It provided an unobstructed view of the center control panel
  • It freed up one hand, allowing the pilot to write on a knee pad
  • It was better for making rapid control inputs and dealing with high G-forces
  • It was more suitable for high gain tasks such as aerial refueling, gun tracking, or aircraft carrier landings
A320 cockpit / Airbus

Airbus A320 side-stick

Airbus' very first single aisle aircraft and direct competitor of the Boeing 737, the Airbus A320, became also the very first commercial aircraft to use the side-stick instead of a yoke. This came after Airbus saw its advantages on the F-16 and perhaps, may also be applied on commercial aircraft.

This allowed Airbus to provide a simplified and uncluttered cockpit for its A320 jet. This also provided a more comfortable experience for pilots and it freed up more space in-front. This allowed better interaction between the pilot and the aircraft's cockpit components.

From then on, Airbus began to use the side-stick on all its aircraft, followed by the A330, A340, A380, and A350. Even its A220 now uses a side-stick.

A220 cockpit / Airbus

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