Because the 787 is fly-by-wire, software controls the flying feel. The software can be tweaked in order to achieve a particular flight characteristic. As an example, in an effort to improve the 777’s tendency to overreact when a pilot induces rapid roll movements during gusty wind conditions, a dampener was designed into the software logic. Steve indicated that a noticeable dampening difference was apparent when a switch was literally turned on and off between the 787 software and the 777 software on one test flight.
As part of the certification process, Boeing flew the actual airplane with FAA check pilots at the controls to prove minimal handling differences from the 777. The check pilots had no prior 787 experience.
As compared with the smaller screens of the 777 cockpit, the displays for navigation, primary flight reference and engine parameters are laptop size. In addition, information can be split on a particular screen rather than utilizing a switch to move an entire display. For example, system synoptic schematics can be viewed on the same screen with the captain’s nav display. As an added bonus, a flight profile display can now be selected.
Airplane nose No. ZA001, which flew into Oshkosh, wasn’t exactly the multicolored mood-lighting Dreamliner that passengers will experience inside. Fully reclining leather sleeper seats were nowhere to be found. Instead, 46 not-quite-ergonomic engineer seats were scattered throughout the cabin alongside various test station equipment.
From the front section of the airplane through the aft section, a series of water ballast tanks was connected down the center aisle. The tanks allowed water to be shifted in order to simulate various weight and balance configurations. A clever secondary purpose of the tanks was to allow the 250 kVA engine-driven generators to power the water heaters installed so that output capabilities could be tested.
Speaking of generators, many of the 787 systems are electrically controlled. As a departure from engine bleed-air tradition, the wing leading-edge devices are electrically heated. Even the landing gear is electronically actuated along with the associated brakes. Cockpit circuit breakers exist only as a virtual display. And that’s just the “Reader’s Digest” version of 787 systems.
In any case, having familiarity with some of Boeing’s family of airplanes, I have no doubt that the flying will require minimal adjustment from the 777. The rest will be in my head, so to speak.
Regardless, I am eager for the opportunity to fly my last showroom model. Very cool that it’s a Dreamliner.