Pushing the MAX to the max at the Farnborough Airshow

737 MAX simulated flight deck

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737 MAX simulated flight deck 

Boeing test pilot Mike Bryan sits in the 737 MAX engineering development simulated flight deck with the Head-up Guidance system in view.

Aug. 15, 2016

When Boeing test pilot Mike Bryan prepared for his demo flight in the 737 MAX at the Farnborough Airshow on July 13, 2016, safety, along with putting on a great show, was his top priority. 

“Fly the airshow, hit the numbers. That was our goal.”

To accomplish this, Bryan flew using a Rockwell Collins Head-up Guidance System, or HGS™, installed in the flight deck, and he also requested a backup HGS be part of the spare set for the airshow. For Bryan, flying extreme maneuvers with a HGS makes a good airshow demonstration great.

“As we were equipping the flight deck for the demo, there was an effort to keep spare parts to a minimum. I was asked if I would be fine flying the airshow without taking along HGS replacement parts. After hearing this, I really pushed to have two. We train with them, and they just make a flight better.”

For Bryan, having a spare HGS in the rare event the primary HGS malfunctioned was important. If needed, technicians on the flight could quickly make the swap for Bryan.

“It’s extremely unlikely my main HGS would have an issue that would render it unusable, but since we trained with the HGS, and given the value that it adds to the precise nature of a demo flight, I made the decision to have another HGS as part of our airshow trip kit to Farnborough. ”

As a former Navy F/A-18 Test Pilot, Bryan began working for Boeing in 1997, switching to test flying commercial aircraft in 2001. Since then, he has worked extensively in training pilots on a variety of Boeing aircraft. As Bryan explains, while pilots may make flight demos look easy, a great deal of precision is required to pull-off a flight like that at the Farnborough Airshow.

“When you watch any of Boeing’s flight demo videos, they always open with the disclaimer, ‘Flown by Boeing test pilots. Do not attempt’. This warning is very valid, as we go through extremely extensive training,” said Bryan. “We take a very scientific approach to our flights, using analysis engineers, flight simulators, and of course, there is a great deal of teamwork and crosschecks involved between the two pilots onthe plane.”

Farnborough was the first airshow for the 737 MAX, and with the world watching, Bryan knew he had to make his performance a memorable one.

“Using the HGS allows for increased precision and situational awareness. This in turn means that the pilot workload decreases and overall the flight is enhanced. This technology makes our airshow demonstration flight better andfor normal everyday use, it is an absolute advantage for pilots flying to an array of airports around the world, often with unique and varying environmental and situational conditions.”

Head-up Guidance System

Crews look out through the Head-up Guidance System during low altitude climb out tests in the desert around China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base.


Story posted: August 12, 2016

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