August 2012

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On the flight deck of ZA001 for the 787 final gauntlet

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In the nearly three years of closely watching the developments on the 787 program, this page has sought to provide a nearly realtime look the arduous, often painful, ultimately extraordinary process of bring a commercial aircraft to the world.

Yesterday afternoon in Everett, photographer Matt Cawby captured a look inside the flight deck of the 787 right in the middle of a rehearsal for first flight as part of gauntlet testing.

The 6:30 second clip of "air"-to-ground communications, cut down for length, joins up with Mike Carriker and Randy Neville (who will be handling ATC communications) on the flight deck of ZA001 just before beginning a simulated flight from Paine Field to Boeing Field in Seattle. This dress rehearsal leaves no detail out. Once the twin Rolls-Royce Trent 1000  engines are started and the flaps are set to 20, Carriker calls for "The T-Birds," Boeing's famous T-33 chase planes, "to get airborne."

This particular flight had ZA001 departing to the south on runway 16R. On the day of first flight, ZA001 will depart to the north on runway 34L

"Okay Team, we're at the end of the runway, ready to call for takeoff. Alright, I see the chase airborne, he's overhead. And when you guys are ready to go we'll call to get on the runway for the chase and brake release," says Carriker.

The test leader then calls to Carriker instructing him to hold while updated speed calculations are prepared and then fed into the aircraft's Flight Management Computer.  While holding for the update speeds, Carriker jokes that newly added flight deck functionality, the taxi map, has been installed in time for first flight: "I would've bet that we didn't have a taxi map on first flight and I lost that bet."

"Okay 001, here's some tweaked speeds based on the current temperature and wind. Speeds: 136, 140, 147, this is with de-rate one and no assumed temperature," says the test leader.

The V1 speed in this case is 136 kts, VR is 140 kts and V2 is 147 kts.

"Okay we've got that loaded, we think we're good to go, and we're ready to call for takeoff," replies Carriker.

"Okay, I'm ready," says the test leader.

"Okay, chase, we're coming on the runway, the call comes over Paine Tower...okay team, we're on the end of the runway although we're going southbound for practice here and I see chase, chase is on downwind and about 20 seconds from brake release," says Carriker.

Carriker pauses for a moment.

"This is going to be so cool."
Carriker then pushes the throttles to the stop on the throttle quadrant, producing a bit more thrust than he wanted for take off.

Carriker concedes that "I didn't do a very good take off because I jammed the throttles full forward against the thrust and that was about 25 degrees nose up to keep the speed down, I didn't want to rotate that far, so it's better like the one we did in the cab where you get the actual thrust. I got slow because I pulled the throttles back too far, you don't really know where the throttles are. And we're climbing out, to maintain about 160 kts, I've got about 1300 fpm so the T-Bird can stay on."

"Ten-four 001," replies the test leader. "We saw 2Gs on that initial climb out and we're evaluating loads just for simulation to play that game."
"Mind if...try that again?" asks Carriker.

ZA001 was reset to the takeoff position back at Paine Field and the testing rolled on.

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