Even More High Tech Than Before
The world's most technologically advanced airplane, the 777, is
now even more high-tech. Boeing says new technology onboard the
777-300ER (Extended Range) makes dollars and sense to the airlines
that fly them.
"We don't add technology just for technology's sake," said Lars
Andersen, program manager for Boeing 777 Longer Range airplane
programs. "Our aim is to add technology that brings value to our
customers -- airlines and the flying public -- alike."
That value is visible both inside and outside the 777-300ER
airplanes. Innovative features that use the crown of the airplane
to locate rest areas for off-duty pilots and flight attendants, who
need a break during long flights, and new lighter, more powerful
computers are just a few of the technological improvements to the
While many improvements are being tested on Boeing's newest 777,
the 777-300ER, some are being immediately put into service on other
Overhead rests allow airlines more seats for paying customers.
Until now the crown of the 777 airplane was filled with structure,
wires, tubes and ducts. With the redesign of the overhead structure
and systems, two crew and a six-to-eight bunk flight attendant
rests can be accommodated.
Boeing offers overhead pilot and flight attendant rests in its
longest range 777: the 777-200ER, 777-300ER and 777-200LR (Long
Range) jetliners. By moving crew and attendant quarters off the
main deck, airlines can free as many as four-to-seven revenue
seats, which can then be used for passengers. Using overhead space
for crew rests areas also frees up room for an additional
four-to-six LD-3 containers in the cargo hold. These containers can
be used for additional cargo.
The first in-production overhead crew and flight attendant rests
were installed in a 777-200ER airplane that was delivered in May
2003. The new crown structure and systems also will be included in
all of the 777-300ER and 777-200LR airplanes.
Boeing also is working with customers on other possible uses for
this space including cabin equipment centers and closets.
Computerized EFB eliminates need for charts and books The days
of pilots enduring the backache caused by lugging heavy bags filled
with navigation charts, logbooks, and manuals from flight to flight
are coming to an end. This is good news for pilots, but it's also
good news for their airline employers.
The Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), produced by Jeppesen, a Boeing
company, will not only shrink those heavy bags onto a computer hard
drive, but also will give airlines increased revenue, reduced
dispatch delays, and savings in fuel usage and increased engine
life, while enhancing pilot situational awareness and even
The Electronic Flight
Bag can contain all documentation and forms carried by pilots --
aeronautical charts, manuals for fault reporting and operations,
minimum equipment lists and logbooks -- in digital format at the
crew's fingertips. It also includes a weight-and-balance calculator
that allows pilots to calculate the ideal speeds and engine setting
for an aircraft instantly, in any weather, on any runway, with any
These instant calculations could increase the payload of a 777
taking off on a wet runway by as much as 20,000 pounds.
The first Electronic Flight Bag to be installed on a 777 will be
delivered in October 2003 to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
Speaking of computers, the 777 family is undergoing its first
major avionics upgrade since its introduction in 1995. New smaller
and lighter weight computers are being installed, which have ample
room for growth. In addition to the new computers, four key
airplane systems have been updated: Airplane Information Management
System, Electrical Load Management System, Primary Flight Computer
and Air Supply and Cabin Pressure Controller.
The new systems were tested on the 777-300ER. The first 777 with
these new systems will be delivered on a 777-200ER in October
Changes that improve the airplane's performance are also visible
outside the airplane. These performance-enhancing changes include:
tail-strike protection, raked wingtips, new engines, a new main
landing gear, strengthened nose gear and new wheels, tires and
brakes (supplied by Goodrich and Messier-Bugatti).
Flight testing of the Boeing 777-300ER has verified the
performance of numerous special features. One such feature,
Tail-Strike protection, helps prevent tail contact with the ground
on takeoff. Operating through the airplane's fly-by-wire flight
controls, the system allows the airplane to lift off at reduced
speed, increasing allowable takeoff weight by 4,000 to 10,000
pounds (1,814 to 4,536 kilograms), depending on airport conditions
and airplane structural limits.
"It's in the primary flight computer," said Frank Santoni,
Boeing 777 chief pilot. "It's a function that looks at rate of
closure of the tail to the ground during rotation, measuring how
fast and at what distance the tail is moving toward the
If the tail gets too close to the ground, the system moves the
elevator for slower nose rotation. During abuse takeoff testing,
where Santoni deliberately rotated the airplane early and fast, the
system has responded as designed.
"It's doing a superb job, which is testament to our engineering
team," Santoni said. "On the 777-300 program six years ago we did
the same takeoff performance tests and contacted the tail about 12
times, which is expected during flight-test. On this program, we
haven't touched once."
A new semi-levered landing gear, manufactured by Goodrich Corp.,
allows the 777-300ER to lift its nose early during takeoff by
shifting the center of rotation from the main axle to aft axle of
the three-axle landing gear truck. As the airplane rotates, the
nose is allowed to rise higher earlier.
"While the tail-strike protection system and semi-levered
landing gear are independent of each other, both give our customers
the ability to take off on shorter runways or put more payload on
the airplane for the same length of runway," Santoni said.
Raked wingtips that were designed for the 777-300ER, not only
improve the bottom line -- they're good for the environment. The
highly tapered wingtip extensions improve the airplane's
performance, help reduce takeoff field length and increase fuel
efficiency and climb performance. Faster climb performance can mean
Through the use of raked wingtips, the 777-300ER is expected to
achieve a 2 percent fuel efficiency improvement, saving as much as
$140,000 on fuel costs per year per airplane. This equates to a
savings of 1.3 million pounds of fuel per year per airplane, and
3.9 million less pounds of global warming carbon dioxide (CO2)
Two General Electric GE90-115B engines power the 777-300ER and
777-200LR, which is in development. Each engine produces 115,000
pounds of thrust -- nearly a quarter of a million pounds of total
thrust for the airplane. By comparison, the original 777-200 had
75,000 pounds of thrust per engine.
That power, which permits unmatched range and speed, comes at
very little expense. Fuel mileage testing shows a 1 percent
improvement in fuel efficiency over original predictions. Such an
improvement can reduce by 106,400 gallons (402,724 liters) annually
the amount of fuel one airplane uses. That's enough to power 130
automobiles for one year.
"It's just an amazing engine," said 777 Senior Test Pilot
Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann of performance evaluations. "It's smooth
and quiet. It also allows the airplane to take off and climb very
The additional thrust increases the 777-300ER's maximum take-off
weight to 759,600 pounds -- almost 100,000 pounds more than the
777-300 -- with virtually no difference in handling characteristics
during takeoff, flight and landing.
As a two-engine airplane, the 777 often flies ETOPS -- or
extended-range operations with two-engine -- routes. ETOPS is a
conservative, evolutionary program that lets airlines fly
two-engine jetliners on extended routes that at some point are more
than 60 minutes of flying time from an airport.
Enormously successful, ETOPS has demonstrated the suitability of
twinjets to long-range and very-long-range operations. More than
3.3 million ETOPS twinjet flights have been logged since 1985, and
about 125 operators perform 1,100 more every day. Boeing twinjets
have performed more than 2.6 million ETOPS flights, and 94 Boeing
operators around the world fly nearly 1,000 more each day.