Phil Copnall, 787 Dreamliner Fleet Manager
In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you updates from all sorts of people involved in the groundbreaking launch, both on the frontline and behind the scenes. First up this month, we hear from Phil Copnall, 787 Dreamliner fleet manager…
Hi and welcome to my blog. My role on the project team is to ensure that our pilots adhere to safe and efficient procedures on this new airplane. As part of this I recently visited Seattle for my training and kept a diary of my time there. I hope you find it interesting…
Although I’m qualified to fly 757 and 767 airplanes, to fly the new 787 Dreamliner I headed to Seattle to attend a 787 type rating course. Completion of this course will qualify me to fly the 787 and work out the pilot procedures for the company before we enter the airplane into the flying programme.
The technology on the 787 Dreamliner is light years ahead of what I currently fly. Although all airplanes have the same basic principles of flight, there is a huge amount of additional information provided to the pilots on the 787. The flight crew operations manual is a book comprising a mere 1600 pages which I will be supposed to know most of and be familiar with the rest!
Even before I left for Seattle, there were hurdles to jump in terms of security clearance which has been introduced since 9/11. There was a security check including finger printing that needed to be done and approved before I will even be allowed to fly the simulator.
The course includes ground training that is largely computer based, with the odd tutorial to explain the more complex items and two exams at the end. Provided I pass both of these I will then have a 787 airplane rating added to my pilots licence!
I am only halfway through the computer based training and they have paired me up with a 777 Captain from British Airways. This is proving quite beneficial for me as the 777 is similar to the 787, so I am able to draw upon his operational experience.
We had three two hour sessions in the simulated flight deck and although it has some of the switches and levers that a real airplane has, much of the flight deck is virtual and reproduced on LCD touch screens. This is used instead of a full flight simulator to reduce course costs.
Things moved on at quite a pace and I completed all of the ground school which culminated in the theoretical knowledge exam, which with a helping of good fortune I managed to pass. The next step is the full flight simulator phase. The 787 is very automated with large LCD displays for the pilots instruments and checklists. Additionally, it is equipped with a head up display for each pilot. This displays the essential flight information on to a glass panel directly in front of the pilots head so they can operate the airplane almost entirely ‘heads up’.
One of the most challenging areas for a pilot of a commercial twin jet airplane is controlling it when one of the engines fails. Because the remaining operating engine is out on the wing the thrust effectively wants to roll the airplane. To stop this from happening the pilot flying must correct this tendency with rudder to ‘balance’ the plane. The 787 is clever in this respect and, apart from during the takeoff roll, it automatically corrects this phenomenon leaving the pilot much more capacity to manage the situation and making the operation much safer than ever before.
Once the simulator training is complete there is one final hurdle to cross – the licence skill test which in simple terms is flying the simulator and demonstrating that I can operate the airplane safely both under normal and non-normal conditions.
The skill test took place at Boeing’s training facility at Gatwick; again, with some good fortune I passed; job done for now!
Well I hope you found it interesting hearing from me, I will keep you posted on my progress in training ready for the new airplane in future blogs.