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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.