Boeing eyes fast-track 787 training, with full flight simulator-free transition from 777 cockpit mooted

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By Guy Norris in Seattle

Manufacturer thinks pilots could make switch from 777 without full-flight simulator training by using new methods

Boeing is in talks with the US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory authorities to allow pilots to transition to the 787 from the 777 without having to go through a full-flight simulator.

"It is a challenging goal," says 787 training director Alfred Nader, who adds: "We're taking advantage of new training and teaching methodology to come up with a revolutionary training system for a revolutionary new aircraft." The system, being developed with Boeing's full-service airline training subsidiary Alteon, will include more advanced computer-based training (CBT) that is linked to full-flight simulators, and touchscreen, flat-panel trainers that will replace traditional CBT. "Desktop simulators will also replace traditional maintenance-based trainers," says Nader.

 Boeing is designing the standard 787 flightdeck for "mixed-fleet" flying

Using a mixture of CBT, scenario-based training and flat-panel simulators instead of the current fixed-base and full-flight simulators, Boeing believes the transition from 777 to 787 could be accomplished in five days. "We think it's do-able," says Nader, who adds: "We've talked with the authorities and it could be achievable."

To aid transition, Boeing is designing the standard flightdeck to incorporate dual head-up-displays, electronic flight bags and logbooks, as well as GPS-guided precision approach capability with a required navigation performance of 0.1nm (0.18km). The flightdeck is designed for "mixed-fleet flying" and to make conversions relatively straightforward for crews coming from other Boeing types, particularly those with glass cockpit displays from the 757/767.

Crews coming to or from the Next Generation 737 and 757/767 will require eight days of "differences" training, while 10 days will be needed for crews transitioning from the 747-400 to the 787. The current transition time from non-Boeing types is 21 days. "We are looking at shortening that time from Airbus types to the 787 and any Boeing aircraft," Nader adds.

To aid the planning and approval process, Boeing and Alteon have developed a pilot qualification plan (PQP) and a separate mechanic qualification plan (MQP). The PQP was first used for the 737NG, while the MQP "is a first for us" says Nader.