Boeing Live Event Coverage
The flying 787 puts on a show at Farnborough
The 787 Dreamliner made a spectacular flying display debut at the Farnborough Air Show Monday.
Mike Carriker, former chief test pilot on the 787 who flew the plane on its first flight in 2009, gave a running commentary to a crowd of journalists watching from the balcony at the Boeing media chalet.
(On the right, Carriker narrates the 787 flying show. My photo.)
The jet, in Qatar Airways colors, was piloted by Mike Bryan, who formerly worked in Boeing's defense division and flew F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters at Air Shows.
Immediately after take-off, Bryan took the airplane into a very steep climb, the nose pointed up 40 degrees. As it soared aloft, the carbon fiber composite wings flexed in the distinctively elegant and recognizable curved arc of the 787 in flight.
"The idea is to show the elegance and grace of the 787 and its iconic wing," said Carriker.
Bryan turned and flew back, banking the plane at about 70 degrees in front of the Boeing chalet.
(The Qatar Airways 787 Dreamliner flies over the Farnborough International Airshow in July 9. AFP/Getty Images)
In another flyby, Bryan rocked the wings, a standard way for a pilot to acknowledge the people watching below.
"It's the way you say hello," said Carriker.
Bryan came back again and did a "touch-and-go," brushing the runway with his wheels then giving the engines full thrust to rise steeply again into the sky.
As the plane came in to land, Carriker told his audience: "Now listen. Just listen."
Everyone duly fell silent and it was striking that as the plane came in low to the runway, flying toward us at no more than a quarter of a mile from where we stood, there was no sound at all.
We didn't hear the engines until the jet was almost straight in front of us.
It was an effective demonstration of just how quiet the 787 is and how small its noise footprint.
Carriker said the plane pulls about 2g of force during this routine.
"It's a great thrill for the pilots," he said.
But while such flying wouldn't be acceptable on a passenger flight -- there might be some spilled coffee -- he said the performance is well within the contours of the flight safety envelope.
Carriker is no longer officially on the 787 program. His new title is chief pilot for new airplane product development.
But it was he who flew the Qatar display plane to Farnborough from Boeing Field and he also piloted the test flight at Farnborough before the Show started.
Carriker joked that he had to be at Farnborough and that he could have been drinking on a British Airways flight. Instead, he preferred to take the Dreamliner.
That even trumps Steve Udvar-Hazy's arrival in his personal Gulfstream.
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