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RENTON, Wash.--Days after it received FAA approval to begin pilot training for the new 787 Dreamliner, Boeing on Thursday showed its 787 simulator and training facility to the media.

First announced six years ago, the 787 is the first major airliner to be built of carbon fiber composite materials. The Dreamliner took off and landed on its first flight last December.

The Boeing customer training center for the 787 Dreamliner and its other aircraft is located just south of Seattle and close to the company's 737 manufacturing plant. A huge 747-400 model hangs above the lobby.

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Training levels

Sherry Carbary, Boeing's vice president for training and flight services, demonstrates the levels of training for 787 customers. Besides the full simulator, the company also provides desktop-based instructional lessons for pilots and training for cabin safety and maintenance personnel.

All training is electronic, and students are issued a tablet PC instead of paper manuals. Boeing says a pilot can be fully trained on a 787 in 20 days if they've never flown a Boeing aircraft before. If the pilot is certified to fly the Boeing 777, training takes just five days.

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Full Flight Simulator

Boeing has eight full flight simulators in Seattle and other cities around the world. Access is through the retractable bridge.

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Simulators

Housed in the same huge room are another 787 simulator and simulators for Boeing 767 and 737 aircraft.

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In training

As we waited for our virtual flight, the 737 simulator dipped up and down as a training session progressed.

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Inside the simulator

Pilot trainer Gregg Pointon welcomed us into the 787 simulator. With the exception of extra monitors used to program training scenarios, the simulator's flight deck exactly mimics the actual cockpit of the airplane.

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The pushback

To start the flight, Pointon prepared for pushback from the gate. The image on the screen simulates the North Satellite Terminal at Seattle-Tacoma International airport.

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Center console

Pointon shows the 787's center console. Just above his hands are the throttles used to control the engines.

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A virtual flight

As we pull onto runway 16 Left, Pointon readies our 787 for departure.

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Flight over Seattle

The 15-minute flight consisted of a cruise above Lake Washington, downtown Seattle and the Pudget Sound.

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Return

After a 180-degree turn, it's time to head back to the airport.

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Wraparound display

The wraparound display can be changed instantly to a show all kinds of weather including overcast clouds.

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Simulated Mount Rainer

A virtual Mount Rainier pokes above the clouds.

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Touchdown

It's a wet and foggy day we land back in Seattle. The runway is barely visible.

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LCD screens

LCD screens offer a constant readout of the 787's performance and condition.

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Computer Based Training

The Computer Based Training room is the first step in the pilot training. The desk offers a rough view of the Dreamliner's cockpit layout while screens help familiarize students with the plane's design and features. For example, they can take a simulated walk around the 787 as a pilot would do before an actual flight.

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Flight Training Device

After the Computer Based Training and before they move to the full simulator student pilots use the Flight Training Device. Though it lacks the full details of the simulator, it's designed to better acquaint pilots with the 787's cockpit layout. The is the first opportunity for a pilot and first officer to work together under the watch of an instructor.

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Training device

A closer view of the Flight Training Device shows the main LCD screens.

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Single screen simulator

Unlike the simulator, the Fight Training Device stays stationary and has only one LCD screen to show the view outside. Yet, pilots can make virtual flights and operate cockpit controls. I was able to take us on a flight above Seattle's airport.

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Cabin safety training

In the Cabin Training Room, flight attendants learn how to operate the 787's doors.

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Open door

Megan Smith, a cabin safety trainer, demonstrates how to open and close the door.

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Window weather

The window in the door can be changed to simulate different outside environments like an airport Jetway, the horizon at cruising altitude or a fire after a crash.

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Cabin evactuation

Cabin personnel also can practice emergency evacuations from the 787.

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Maintanence training

In the maintenance training room, airline mechanics can walk through virtual repair jobs. The display on the right mimics the view inside the 787's computer equipment bay in the aircraft's nose. The screen on the left shows an indicator screen from the cockpit.

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