Wednesday, October 29, 2014

LiftnDrag Scrapbook Feature

United Pilots: We Flew to Chengdu on a Boeing 787 and Loved It: "The Street Headline June 17, 2014"


What professionals say about the 787 from  almost six months ago?

CHENGDU, China ( TheStreet) -- "Dale Harlan, a United (UAL) pilot for 27 years, wanted so badly to fly the Boeing (BA) 787 Dreamliner that he gave up a dream job as a high-seniority 737 captain to fly as a first officer on the new airplane.
That sacrifice got him a spot on a historic flight on June 9, when United Flight 9 became the first non-stop commercial flight ever from North America into the interior of China, perhaps the clearest indication since the 787 began flying for ANA in 2011 that the aircraft's highest and best use is to open new frontiers in air travel.

For the moment, at 6,857 miles, San Francisco/Chengdu is the longest 787 flight to operate non-stop in both directions."
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 Its clear professionals will crawl on broken glass on the way to the job just to fly the 787. After 27 years a pilot would give up his capstone position just to fly the 787. That in itself, says something of the flying experience passengers pay for without much acknowledgement, as they board another 787 on a Business Trip. Dale Harlan, later, may have gone on to his career ladder position, but not without first checking out that could be found out with the 787-8. 
However, its still quite a statement to say I'll put promotion aside at this moment and fly the 787 6,857 miles on a super long range flight.
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"I wanted to fly this thing," said Harlan, who was a captain for 14 years, as he ticked off some of the airplane's advantages. Among them, lower cabin pressure, higher humidity and reduced noise make the 14-hour Chengdu trip far less grueling for passengers and crew, while technological improvements enable the airplane to fly higher, faster, and more efficiently than predecessor aircraft.
On the first Chengdu flight, "We got to 41,000 feet in 13 minutes," said Andy Raymer, the captain and a 31-year United pilot. "Everybody else is at 32,000, 34,000, 35,000. We're up here by ourselves for now."
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Remember this a pilot who does not work for Boeing, but United, its pure 787 exhilaration after flying prior generation aircraft. This enthusiasm extends back to passengers as they transfix on looking out the windows when it rises going above the clouds, as if they are doing a demo climb at Farnsburough during the 2014 Air Show .


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"Conceivably, the aircraft could make United a preferred carrier on long-haul flights.
I didn't perceive any advantage on my first 787 flight, United's Houston-Chicago service inaugural, but the benefits were striking when I flew the San Francisco/Chengdu inaugural.
The SFO-CTU flight path took the aircraft north to Alaska and over Russia before it entered Chinese airspace for several hours, an unusual experience for a U.S. crew.  Chinese airspace is almost entirely controlled by the military. Civilian ATC jurisdiction extends only about four miles on either side of the airways.
Weather deviations due to thunderstorms or turbulence are common and usually uncomplicated in the U.S, but a deviation in Chinese airspace requires coordination between civilian and military air traffic control agencies --- which provides one more thing for pilots to think about."


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A demonstration of the 787 technology is needed when a foreign carrier flies into China's airspace. China provides a narrow window in its flight path which is governed by the military as reported above. Precision flight paths, albeit storms and other weather when it occurs. The due diligence of the aircraft systems and its flying crew are required.
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"None of the Flight 9 pilots had ever flown into Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, not even on a simulator. However, they studied detailed regional and airport information and engaged in briefings prior to departure and again prior to the final approach. 
Raymer said specific simulator training was unnecessary because Chengdu is a typical modern airport with high quality navigational equipment and long runways. "From a pilot's perspective, it's no different than any other large, up-to-date international airport," he said.
As for the aircraft, Raymer and Harlan and the two other pilots on the first flight -- during the flight, two pilots flew while two others rested -- raved about its advantages."
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Now that the 787-9 has flown, most recently to Melbourne Australia by United. The 14:30 hours/min duration with a full load of 252 passengers, has been Boeing's longest route to date. The "for the moment" 787-8 distance was just eclipsed with another "for the moment" 787-9 record. I doubt the 2nd crew pilots were sleeping, they too, wanted to watch just like the passenger were watching. How else would you come down the jetway raving about the experience. 787-9 photo for Melbourne trip


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"The 787 is faster than predecessors. Its normal cruise speed is .85 Mach (or 85% of the speed of sound), which equates to 646 miles per hours, while the 777 cruises at .84 Mach. "What sets the B787 apart from the B777 is its ability to cruise as fast as .90 Mach," Harlan said. "On a 14-hour flight, that extra 46 mph will gain you 644 miles, or get you there almost exactly one hour earlier -- all while flying higher, above most bad weather, and using much less fuel than the 777."
Raymer said he is not worried about the 787's early problems with its lithium batteries. "The battery has proven to be extremely dependable since its upgraded design and manufacturing changes," he said. "The redesigned batteries have a stainless steel box around them; it is vented and can withstand high pressure in the very unlikely event of a battery issue."
The cockpit provides enhanced visual indicators, including a "heads up display" that enables pilots to view critical flight information such as altitude and air speed while looking straight ahead, rather than looking down at flight displays on the instrument panels. "I don't have to move my eyes back and forth while landing," Harlan said. Also, five large flat panel screens provide more display area than those in the Boeing 777-200."
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If it sounds like a Boeing Advertisement above, its not, its pride talking from a pilot as he recognizes the not subtle differences found on the 787. It makes a pilot better composed with enhanced information at his beck and call. The danger exists that a pilot will lose some of his flying skills when using all the 787 aids as a reliance, and then have a failure during a system problem. However, that can be addressed with a continuous flying/training program that has the pilot's flying skill at center court during annual training refreshers. 

The enhanced systems take the load off the pilot on more complex aircraft flying. The pilot needs  these multi tasking systems in order for safer flying above and over older previous models. 

The Lessons Learned from the A-380 engine explosion, when its first flew from Singapore, has provided an emergency pathway when calamity happens. As both all airline manufacturers and airlines have taken into account multi systems shut down or alarms is "pilot overload." 
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"Among the environmental advantages that benefit passengers as well as crew, the 787 is quieter than predecessors, so that "we can speak at a conversational level on the flight deck," Raymer said. The quieter cabin reflects the use of seamless composites in the plane's skin and seamless flight deck windows.

Also, cabin pressure is relatively high, reducing bodily stress; it is maintained at or below 6,000 feet altitude pressure, which is 1,000 to 2,000 feet lower than on comparable aircraft. Lower cabin altitude means higher cabin air pressure.
Additionally, 787 cabin air humidity is kept at 6% or 7% up from predecessors' 2%. Cabin air is supplied by four electric cabin air compressors, rather than by engine bleed air that has been heated to 800 degrees. After a 13-hour flight, "the fatigue is much less, and your ears don't ring," Raymer said."
Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.