I’ve had the experience of flying in some really wide cockpits, meaning that the pilot and copilot’s seats were far from each other laterally, the most notable example for me is the UH-60 Blackhawk. When transitioning into the Blackhawk, the perspective provided when flying from the left seat as compared to the right seat is quite different, and a newbie pilot’s tend to yaw the helicopter towards the side the pilot on the controls is sitting. To say it more simply, on a wide cockpit, a pilot tends to have trouble maintaining alignment of the longitudinal axis because of a visual illusion. I’ve noticed that the wider the cockpit, the greater the illusion.
This illusion is also prevalent in fixed wing airplanes on final approach. When a pilot sits in the left seat, the approach will almost always be flown on the left side of the runway centerline, and when the pilot is in the right seat the airplane is frequently flown on the right side. When the airplane is on short final, the distance off centerline is not much, but when on a 2-mile final, the distance off centerline can be quite excessive for pilots fly visual angles when determining position on final.
A good way to see if you are experiencing the illusion without knowing it, try flying an ILS under the hood. If you fly the localizer exactly with the needle in the center, you will be on runway centerline. As you fly the approach, note when you are stable on the center of the localizer and then look up to the runway. If the perspective looks unusual to you, as if you were too far to one side, then you are experiencing the illusion.
If I find a pilot flying on final too far to either side of the runway centerline, I’ll almost always try to bring the pilot out to the runway in a golf cart or by walking. When standing on the runway, the first thing you will notice is the massive size of the painted markings, including the centerline. Runways have a much different appearance when you are not surrounded by a bunch of aluminum. On the smallest of runways, the centerline is usually 18” at a minimum. On large runways, the width of the centerline can be as great as 36”. With this perspective, we then go back to the cockpit and measure the distance from the eyes of the left pilot and the right pilot. In a Malibu, the distance is about 28”, which is not very much at all. The centerline of most runways is often wider than the pilots seat positions.
So, with this information, it becomes clear that there should be no compensation made by the pilot when flying different seats in an airplane. Simply fly on final approach so the centerline (extended) appears to go right through your body. If the pilot in the left seat flies this way, the pilot in the right seat will also perceive the centerline extended is going through his body. And, it doesn’t matter which airplane you are flying. Usually wide cockpits are quite high off the ground, and this tends to diminish the effect. So, whether you are flying a King Air 200 or a Cessna 140, fly the final approach on any runway so the runway centerline (extended) appears to go through your heart. The most you be off centerline is a few inches, and that is imperceptible when flying an airplane on approach.