"First flight"

Our 787 chief pilot Mike Carriker, and our 787 systems director Mike Sinnett had an awesome experience earlier this month. They “flew” the Dreamliner with the “Blockpoint 8” software for the first time - in a successful test of the 787 integrated avionics and flight systems hardware and software that are now in final development.

The “flight” took place in the 787 engineering flight simulator.

image/photo

The testing of software and hardware took place in this 787 engineering flight simulator, which functions in a true airline operational environment.

During the test, Mike and Mike demonstrated most of the operational procedures required by a flight crew - pushback and engine start at Sea-Tac airport near Seattle, taxi and takeoff, climb, cruise, simulated engine failure, descent, approach, single-engine go-around, landing, taxi and arrival at the gate at the Portland, Oregon airport.

It’s an important first step in the validation of the Blockpoint 8 software that I mentioned. This is the family of software created exclusively for the 787, and that will support initial flight test. This flight software system is more highly integrated with many more features for crew efficiency, comfort, and situational awareness than flight systems in use today.

So what’s next? With this “first” behind us, we’re continuing our testing - improving and validating the systems on the road to real first flight of the Dreamliner.

Comments (11)

Chris C (South Africa):

Very interesting, and encouraging, to read about the success of the flight-deck systems of the super-efficient 787 Dreamliner! Thanks for sharing with us Randy.

J Evans (Coral Springs, FL USA):

Good to see things moving forward. Next goal is to beat your revised date for first flight.

Will Boeing be using this new software or a similar version on the 747-8?

Keep up the good work to get these delays behind and satisfy the customers!!


Ed (Dublin Ireland):

I'm surprised. Up to this point in time I had assumed that this phase of simulator preparations was reached last summer or earlier. Why is it only being completed now?

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Ed,

Mike Sinnett tells me that the original intention was to fly with software loads that were aligned to Blockpoint 7. But since the program was delayed, we took the opportunity to further mature the operational software and bring more functionality on line. This led to a decision to align our software to the next interface version, Blockpoint 8. It was this software suite that was tested recently for the first time in an airline operational environment.

- Randy Tinseth

Reece Lumsden (Everett, WA):

One thing I'd be interested in seeing is just how well the simulator will match the real thing for aircrew and how much preparation this gives them. Is 'flying' these simulators just like the real thing for the pilots or will they only really learn the nuances of flying the 787 once they're in the cockpit and flying it for real? I'd be interested to hear from others who have some insight/awareness on this from the past.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

It's never to early to start with the training of select crews that will fly the 787.

I am very sure the Blockpoint 8 software will make the plane a lot easier to manage and maintain from the flight deck.

Congratulations on the success of the system and I hope it's implemented on all future Boeing aircraft.

Joerg (Hamburg):

Despite being a major achievement and milestone, the quality of the software depends on the quality of the aircraft's model. If the aircraft is modeled well, the flight simulator indeed gives a good impression of the real thing, so that for a normal flight no significant difference exists. The tricky thing is normally not the normal cruise regime, but low/high speed with strange configurations, masses and CGs.

One things strikes me: Does the engineering simulator have such a good vision system that it even displays clouds like in the real world, or is the actual cockpit view in the picture above some kind of photoshop product?

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Joerg,

On your last point - yes, the simulator does feature real-world imagery, but for this photo we did add the clouds into the image digitally. See my answer to Eugene, below.

- Randy Tinseth

Chris C (South Africa):

Reece Lumsden:

I'm not sure if the 787-engineering flight simulator functions along the same lines as a Full-Flight Simulator, in terms of "motion", but nevertheless, it is an accurate representation of the 'real-world' 787 flight-deck and avionics integration. Having flown the 747-400, A319 and A340-600 simulators, and being a commercial pilot myself, a Full-Flight Simulator is indeed almost uncanny on how 'real' it is. The only problems with them is that there is no pressure changes on your ears, and the visuals can induce a low-grade headache, but otherwise, they are spot-on a great representation of the real deal. That's why the latest full-flight simulators are known as ZER0-ZERO SIMS, as they are so close to the actual aircraft in virtually every aspect.

Bas Nagelkerke (Amersfoort, The Netherlands):

Can you tell me if you guys are going to make a Flight Test Journal like you did with the 777?

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Bas,

Yes, that is part of the plan. Thanks for asking.

- Randy Tinseth

Eugene (MD):

The clouds in the photo look amazingly real. Was that picture taken during an actual simulator "flight" or was it some sort of screensaver?

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Eugene,

That's a good question. Very observant of you. The short answer is, the simulator does feature imagery in actual operation, but for the purposes of taking this photo - which required professional lighting - the imagery in the windows was washed out. So we did add the clouds back in digitally for this particular shot. Everything else depicted is actual.

- Randy Tinseth

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

It looks great. It's quite the change running through Boeing's 7-series jets over the past couple of decades. Great work.

Just comparing here - looks like you could fit this layout on the A380 - but I'm not sure if it would fit on the 777. Does the 777 have a narrower cockpit - I know that its section 41 is straight off the 767? I think that the 747 could do with some of the elements of the 'DreamDeck' - a little refresh - but I don't know. Don't fly em birds:( These upgrades probably still "have to earn their way" onto the design. There has to be an efficiency or safety justification - or both. Has technology really progressed to a point where you could offer significantly safer performance than the 747-400 - with its proven record?

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

Firstly, the completion of the fuselage barrel tests for the "Plastic Fantastic" should be applauded. Exceeding "ultimate load" by considerable margins - whatever they are - is a comforting thought in itself.

And finally about No. 1,400 Model 747:

The Boeing 747 continues strong in the face of adversary and inspite of the larger aircraft out there. But this is not a B Vs. A contest. Nor any particular event for comparing the giants of the skies – both military and civil. Rather, it is a moment to celebrate the aircraft’s tremendous success against rival bets of the 1960-70’s, a moment to celebrate the efficiency and safety of air travel on a global scale – as a result of its invention, a moment to celebrate its triumph over its initial detractors – both at Boeing and outside the company – but also, its triumph over time itself.

But perhaps, the biggest cheers should be for the 20,000 or so Incredibles that believed in it enough – so that no matter how many millions of flights it would come to accomplish around the world, the most important ones would be those 1,400 first flown at Paine Field, Everett. Because, in life, you are given a set of wings, and the idea is to fly as best as you can with them.

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