Random question...Why does the spoiler / speed break lever work opposite than flaps or landing gear?

I have the Thrustmaster TCA throttle and just added the add-on for it, that provides a flap and spoiler levers. My question though, isn’t about that but the difference in how the spoiler lever works vs the flaps lever…or even the landing gear lever in real planes…

  • With flaps, when it’s lever is up, flaps are up. Move that lever down and the flaps lower…makes sense.

  • Same for the landing gear lever. Up, gear is up, down, the gear is down…makes sense.

  • Spoilers/Speed Breaks…Lever is up, spoilers are down and stowed. Lever down, they are up…Doesn’t make sense? This seems counter to how they work. I would think, if the spoiler / speed break lever is up, then they should be up, and deployed. Down, well they are down and stowed…Any reason that these work differently than the first two?

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It might be a human interface type of decision whereby in any of those states where the lever is down you are influencing the airspeed of the aircraft in a negative fashion, or I should say generating drag.

When any of those levers are up it is the opposite.


A bit like when I first got pedals, I actually expected them to work the other way.

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If you think of the levers as Up=Stowed and Down=Fully Deployed, then they work the same. Pulling either one back (down) induces drag and bleeds off speed. The only difference is that one increases lift and the other one decreases lift.


The reasoning is that with everything forward, situation normal. Would you want the speed brake lever sitting up all the time. It would be a nuisance. Forward (stowed) all smooth. Pull the lever back n the speed brakes extend, lever is obvious to pilots. But on the Airbus, the lever is on the pedistal, but still the same forward, all stowed, pulled back, speedbrakes extended.

It’s because Up means “go fast” and Down means “go slow”

Throttle Push Up, means go fast since it will increase thrust. Throttle Pull Down, means go slow since it will decrease speed.

Flaps Push Up, means go fast since it will stow the flaps reducing drag. Flaps Pull Down means go slow since it will extend the flaps to introduce drag.

Landing Gear Up, means go fast since it will stow the landing gear making the body smooth and smoothes out the airflow. Landing Gear Down means go slow since it will deploy the landing gear and the body shape introduces drag to the airflow.

Spoilers Up, means go fast since it will stow the speedbrake making the wings smooth and the airflow smooth. Spoilers Down means go slow since it will open up the spoilers which disrupts the smooth airflow and introduce drag.

So it’s Up = Fast. Down = slow.

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To remember the logic, think about the handbrake lever in a car:
when you pull it you’re braking,
when you push it, the car can go faster.

If you don’t have a too modern car with electrical/auto parkbrake… :wink:

The word EXTEND says it all for gear, flaps and spd brakes

I’ve tried that in a Volvo a while ago and found out that it’s just an on/off switch.
Rear wheels simply blocked and I felt lucky that I drove pretty slow…
Have to say that it occured 5-6 years ago so probably this behaviour has been improved since then.

Because these are speed related.

The spoilers purpose is to “spoil” the lift generation of the wing letting you descend faster (without a gain in speed due to their drag). On the ground they don’t have much effect as speed brakes as the airspeed is low - but they are very good at destroying lift on the wings to put weight on the wheels ASAP. (They can also be used for roll control)

The British I feel use a more accurate term - lift dumpers. Not sure if this term is still in use but it describes well their function.

Coming back to the lever. You pull it backwards (deployed) to “pull back” (reduce) the speed and to add drag. The way to think about it:

  • You pull back the thrust levers to reduce speed
  • You pull back the spoiler lever to add drag and reduce speed
  • You push the spoiler lever forward to have a clean wing again
  • You push the thrust levers forward to gain speed
  • You “push” the gear lever “forward” (UP) to reduce drag
  • You “pull” the gear level “backward” (DOWN) to add drag

So the “pull back” motions in all these systems help “pull back the speed” and add drag which is why I think they made that motion of the spoiler lever the way it is.

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Replace the words up/down with stowed/deployed and it now makes sense. That’s how I think of it.

It’s because the spoilers are mounted on an upwards-facing surface, whereas the flaps and gear are not.

If it bothers you, just go into settings and reverse it, thats what I did for gear / flaps. If its bound to something with a rotational axis you can just reverse axis, if its a switch you’ll have to move the up command and the down command around.

There used to be a phrase “Push it to the firewall”, the firewall being the bulkhead between the cockpit and the engine bay, so if you pushed all the levers forwards towards the firewall you would get all the speed and power the plane could give you.

To me it makes sense. Up position is retracted and down is deployed. It’s not meant to be seen from the perspective of the levers matching the physical position of the control surfaces.

Not to mention reverse thrust… Oh I did…

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First - Try to click the “reverse” box in the control settings for your Spoiler Question. See if that configures it the way you want.

Second - Read how I bound Reverse Thrust for my Virpil TM3 throttle unit. Unless you have the honeycomb bravo, which has a default profile built into sim, you have to find a button which will engage RT. Some buttons will actuate RT and allow you to just push throttles forward and increase RT power. Some buttons will be momentary, and you have to Hold it down. On mine, in MSFS, it starts process and push throttles forward. In FSX have to hold down, and in XP-11, just push and it keeps RT until I push it again. Play with the way it binds in game. Go figure.

All controls forward = speed up

All controls aft = slow down

That’s it

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