Wired Magazine was lucky enough to get inside this bad boy and check out the new features that jet the Boeing 787 into the 21st century.
Somewhere over Missouri, even hand-flying the 787 straight and level is exciting. The airplane was simple to fly, even without commercial pilot experience, thanks to the fly-by-wire control system that greatly reduces the workload for the pilot.
The heads-up display (HUD) from Rockwell Collins shows the necessary flight information so the pilot can keep his or her eyes outside the cockpit during flight. On the left is the indicated airspeed (288 knots or about 560 miles per hour at this altitude), the Mach number is also displayed (0.86). On the right is the altitude (36,000 feet) and on the bottom is the compass (heading is 276 degrees). The green line along the middle is the artificial horizon. The circle with small wings on the left side of the horizon line is the flight path marker (where the airplane is going) and the small circle inside of it is the guidance circle (where the programmed navigation says we should be going). When this photo is taken the autopilot is engaged (A/P at the top) and the airplane is flying banked slightly the right (shown by the tip of the triangle against the middle marking at top) to counter the cross wind from the north at 29 knots.
The yoke on the 787 controls roll by moving it similarly to a steering wheel, and pitch (nose up or down) by pulling the entire thing back or pushing forward. The buttons on the right side of the yoke control the trim surfaces for the elevator. One of the two pedals can be seen behind and to the left of the control column. These control the rudder.
Boeing pilot Randy Neville was the company's chief test pilot on the F-22 Raptor program. He is now the chief test pilot on the 787 program.
It's hard to beat the view from the pilot's seat. But anybody riding jump seat on a 787 cannot complain.
After landing back in Seattle, ZA003 is taxied back to its parking spot on the flight line at Boeing's flight test facility at the King County International Airport, better known as Boeing Field.
The main cabin of 787 ZA003 is configured with some seats for demonstration flights with airlines. But Boeing also left plenty of room to stand around and talk. It is very odd being on an airliner with enough room for an indoor soccer game.
For most passengers this is a typical seating configuration in economy class. No room for indoor soccer, but the new seats do carve out some room for added passenger space.
Business and first class seats are of course much more spacious with room to lie down. The individual airlines choose their own seating configurations and seat makers. But Boeing has gone to great lengths to improve the passenger experience, including increased humidity and a more comfortable cabin pressure than in typical airliners.
The sleek, upswept wing and fuel efficient engines account for most of the reduction in fuel consumption on the 787 Dreamliner. This airplane is powered by Rolls Royce engines. General Electric also makes engines for the 787.
Just behind the cockpit and up a few stairs is the crew rest quarters on the Boeing 787. On long-haul flights, there is often a third crew member on board the airplane so one member of the crew can rest.
All of the windows in the 787 are larger than those in existing airliners. The larger windows provide a better view and a sense of more open space. Instead of pull-down window shades, the Boeing 787 has a button that controls the transparency of the window. Here the four main settings can be seen. Even on the darkest setting, it is possible to see through the window, but it is dark.
Overhead bins on the 787 are much bigger than on most airliners and carry-ons can be stored on edge.
After several weeks on the road, the Boeing team is happy to be home. The airplane — ZA003 — will continue further flight demonstrations and flight testing in the future.