What are Thrust Levers?

Of the hundreds of controls found in the cockpit of an aircraft, one of the most important and readily used is the thrust lever. They are found in every aircraft that has an engine, and while their location and size may vary, their operating principle remains the same. This article will discuss the purpose, location, and types of thrust levers in airplanes.

A thrust lever, also known as a throttle control module, is a tool that is manipulated by pilots in order to adjust the thrust of the engine during takeoff and mid-flight, as well as reverse thrust during landing. It accomplishes this modulation of thrust by sending signals to the electronic engine controller (EEC). The primary purpose of regulating thrust throughout the flight is fuel efficiency, but engine control by the lever is also crucial when it comes to safety because the pilot will need to regulate thrust depending on the level of drag. After calculating the power level required for takeoff, the pilot will push the throttle lever forward until the appropriate thrust setting is reached. Pilots will generally keep their hand on the throttle in the desired position in the case that a takeoff must be aborted and to make sure that vibration does not revert the lever to a suboptimal position. 

For multi-engine jets, during flight, when the aircraft is on autopilot mode, the throttle lever will generally be in a position called auto thrust (AT). AT mode is useful because it will keep the thrust in the appropriate range, preventing both stalling and over-torque/ over-temperature conditions. Single engine general aviation aircraft are not equipped with an automated power control system. Pilots have to manually set the throttle to the appropriate and efficient level in these aircraft, typically being 20-30% of the maximum takeoff thrust. 

During touchdown, the thrust lever's function is to provide reverse thrust. The pilot will pull the lever to the lowest position, usually labeled as "REV." Once the thrust lever is in this position, the hydraulic systems will apply pressure to the actuator to open up reverser doors on the turbine. The purpose of these reverser doors is to guide incoming air to move in the opposite direction and reverse the output, thereby slowing the aircraft. The location and number of the throttle levers will vary depending on the aircraft, but are typically found in an ergonomic and easy to reach place. For most commercial aircraft, the levers will be found in the center console between the captain and co-pilot. In smaller aircraft, they are usually found up on the cockpit dashboard. No matter the type of aircraft, there is always one lever that controls each engine. This feature is crucial in the case of engine failure as it allows the pilot to troubleshoot the problematic engine and allows them to increase the power of the non-failed engine. 

Whether you are looking to purchase a thrust lever or other aircraft parts, look no further than NSN purchasing. NSN purchasing is an online distributor of aviation components, IT hardware, and electronics, sourcing only from the most trusted manufacturers. Our attention to detail and quality assurance program has allowed us to maintain FAA AC-0056B accreditation and an ISO 9001:2015 certification. We understand that our customers need to meet requirements quickly, which is why we have established a network of shipping locations to ensure timely delivery. Our easy-to-navigate database can be searched using NSN, CAGE code, part type, or manufacturer. Once you have found your needed part, please fill out an online RFQ, and one of our sales representatives will get back to you with a competitive quote within 15 minutes. 

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