Dubai Airshow: Captain Heather Ross flies in on Boeing’s 777X

Captain Heather Ross, 777/777X deputy chief pilot, flew Boeing’s new wide-body twin here to Dubai and is full of praise for the aircraft.

Captain Heather Ross, 777/777X deputy chief pilot. Image: BillyPix

What really sticks out for the pilot is the displays are really key,” said Ross, speaking from the cockpit of the 777X.

“They are very much a similar architecture to the 787 as far the information that can be projected down on to the airplane and the flexibility of that information.

“We also have some new features, where we have the capability of projecting information from our iPad on to the display, so we can actually show map displays,” said Ross.

“Another new feature, different from the 777, but similar again to the 787, is we have these optional heads-up displays, and they are wonderful because there is so much out-the-window capability. The pilot can be flying eyes out the window looking out for traffic and seeing all the flight information they need to.

“The third thing is something you don’t see, and that is the flight control system behind the 777-9/777X,” added Ross. “That is taken over from the 787 airplane with adjustments for weight and for the dimensions of this airplane, but it’s very much the same fully fly-by-wire control law that we use in the 787.”

The 777X is now well into its first full year of test flying, having first taken to the air on January 25 2021.

There are four aircraft in the test programme. Three are configured like the 777X here in Dubai, which has 24 ballast tanks, a variety of avionics and flight system test racks, and seating for the 50 engineering, maintenance and support crew who are required to look after the aircraft.

There are 12,450kg ballast tanks in the forward cabin of the 777X and 12 in rear. They are plumbed together, and water is transferred between them as fuel is burnt to ensure the aircraft is kept in a steady state under test conditions, explained Matt England, ground operations engineer in Boeing’s test & evaluation team.

One of the remarkable features of the 777X is its foldable wingtips, which are required to reduce the width of the aircraft to enable gate operations at many airport terminals. The wingtips unfold into flying state as the aircraft taxis out to the runway and autofold on landing, said England.