What is EFS in Aviation? (Elevator Feel Shift)

Elevator Feel Shift (EFS) is an important concept in aviation that plays a crucial role in the control and handling of aircraft. It refers to the change in aerodynamic forces acting on the elevator control surface of an aircraft, resulting in a change in the feel or responsiveness of the control input. In simpler terms, elevator feel shift is the sensation felt by the pilot when there is a change in the forces required to move the elevator. This phenomenon is especially significant during different flight conditions and maneuvers.

Understanding Elevator Feel Shift

To comprehend elevator feel shift better, let’s delve into the science behind it. In aircraft control systems, the elevator is responsible for controlling the pitch motion of the aircraft, allowing the pilot to change the aircraft’s attitude and climb or descend. The elevator control surface is connected to the control wheel or stick in the cockpit, which the pilot manipulates to provide input.

During normal flight conditions, an aircraft’s elevator is designed to have a neutral feel, where the forces required to move the elevator are balanced and consistent. However, certain flight conditions and maneuvers, such as changes in airspeed, angle of attack, or aircraft configuration, can lead to a shift in elevator feel.

For instance, when an aircraft increases its speed, the aerodynamic forces acting on the elevator control surface also change. This can cause a shift in the feel of the control input, making it easier or harder for the pilot to move the elevator. Similarly, changes in the angle of attack or aircraft configuration, such as deploying flaps or landing gear, can also affect the elevator feel.

Elevator feel shift is particularly important because it provides feedback to the pilot about the aircraft’s current state and helps maintain control. A sudden and unexpected change in elevator feel can catch a pilot off guard and potentially result in a loss of aircraft control. Therefore, understanding and anticipating elevator feel shift is crucial for pilots to safely operate an aircraft.

Causes of Elevator Feel Shift

Now that we understand what elevator feel shift is, let’s explore some of the common causes that can lead to its occurrence:

1. Changes in Airspeed: As mentioned earlier, variations in airspeed can affect the aerodynamic forces acting on the elevator. An increase in speed can lead to a decrease in elevator feel, making it easier for the pilot to move the control input. On the other hand, a decrease in speed can result in increased elevator feel, requiring more effort from the pilot to maneuver the aircraft.

2. Angle of Attack: The angle at which the aircraft’s wings meet the oncoming airflow, known as the angle of attack, also influences elevator feel. An increase in angle of attack can cause an increase in elevator feel, while a decrease in angle of attack can result in a decrease in elevator feel.

3. Aircraft Configuration: Changes in the aircraft’s configuration, such as deploying or retracting flaps and landing gear, can affect elevator feel. These changes alter the aerodynamic forces on the aircraft, leading to a shift in the feel of the elevator control input.

It is essential for pilots to be aware of these factors and familiarize themselves with the elevator feel shift characteristics of the aircraft they are flying. This knowledge enables them to anticipate and react accordingly to maintain control and ensure safe flying.

Mitigating Elevator Feel Shift

To mitigate the effects of elevator feel shift and enhance aircraft controllability, aviation manufacturers employ several mechanisms and technologies. Here are some common methods used:

1. Artificial Feel Systems: Many aircraft utilize artificial feel systems to simulate consistent elevator forces regardless of flight conditions. These systems use hydraulic or mechanical devices to modify the control input forces felt by the pilot, providing a uniform feel throughout various flight regimes.

2. Electronic Fly-by-Wire Systems: In modern fly-by-wire aircraft, electronic systems transmit control inputs from the pilot to flight control surfaces using electrical signals. These systems can automatically adjust the control response and feel to compensate for changes in flight conditions.

3. Load Alleviation Systems: Load alleviation systems are designed to reduce the aerodynamic loads acting on the aircraft during specific flight conditions. By reducing these loads, elevator forces can be maintained within a narrower range, resulting in a more consistent feel for the pilot.

It’s worth noting that the specific methods employed to mitigate elevator feel shift can vary depending on the aircraft model and manufacturer. Each aircraft type undergoes thorough testing and certification processes to ensure proper handling characteristics and control feel under different flight conditions.

Overall, elevator feel shift is a crucial aspect of aviation that directly affects the handling and control of an aircraft. By understanding the causes and effects of elevator feel shift, as well as the mechanisms in place to mitigate it, pilots can confidently and safely operate their aircraft.


Elevator Feel Shift (EFS) is the term used to describe the change in forces required to move the elevator control surface of an aircraft, resulting in a sensation felt by the pilot. It is influenced by various factors such as changes in airspeed, angle of attack, and aircraft configuration. Understanding elevator feel shift is crucial for pilots to maintain control and safely operate their aircraft. Manufacturers employ artificial feel systems, electronic fly-by-wire systems, and load alleviation systems to mitigate elevator feel shift and ensure consistent control feel. By comprehending elevator feel shift and its implications, pilots can be better prepared to handle any changes in control responsiveness, enhancing safety in aviation.

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