Two years ago, Flight International was offered a preview of the Boeing 787’s flying qualities when Mike Gerzanics flew and reported on CAE’s full-flight 787 simulator. The day before my evaluation flight of the aircraft itself, I spent time in one of Boeing’s simulators, which would prepare me well for the real thing. The preview Dreamliner was flight-test aircraft ZA005 (N787FT), configured with General Electric GEnx-1B engines. The flightdeck was production representative, while the passenger cabin was configured for flight-test operations.
Aviation buffs the world over would agree that if it looks right it will probably fly right, and as I walked to the preview aircraft I was once again reminded of how pleasing the 787 is on the eye. The gentle sweep of the wings, the smooth composite surfaces and the unique noise-reducing engine nacelles paint the picture of a bird yearning to fly. Aesthetics aside, what makes the Dreamliner’s design so intriguing is how Boeing has balanced the needs of its three main constituencies: the paying passenger, the purchasing airline, and the operations and maintenance crew.
Test pilot Paul Smith adds the 787 to a dazzling array of types he has tested
My experience in the Joint Strike Fighter programme taught me balancing requirements is the chief engineer’s main task. Boeing has successfully balanced these requirements in the Dreamliner by retaining sufficient commonality with its 777 line to keep pilots and mechanics happy, and by using composites and alternative aircraft systems to cut manufacturing and operating costs and improve dispatch reliability.