747classic From Netherlands, joined Aug 2009, 1789 posts, RR: 11 Reply 3, posted (5 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 3372 times:
AFAIK it's still a three man crew aircraft.
Modifying the aircraft in a two pilots aircraft would be an economical disaster. The re-certification costs would be enormous.
Navigation updates (FMS/GPS), EGPWS and all analogue instruments replaced at the pilots positions.
The analogue autopilots are retained.
At the F/E panel it seems that part of the old indicators have been replaced by digital indication.
I would indeed like to see a photo of this modified F/E panel.
SSTeve From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 434 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (5 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 3263 times:
Quoting 747classic (Reply 3): Modifying the aircraft in a two pilots aircraft would be an economical disaster. The re-certification costs would be enormous.
The SOFIA program has been a bit of an economical disaster. However-- I'm wondering if this upgrade has something to do with operating from airfields other than NASA's own? Though I have no idea whether that was actually a restriction to this point.
747classic From Netherlands, joined Aug 2009, 1789 posts, RR: 11 Reply 6, posted (5 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3144 times:
In the first place the aircraft has to have a certain navigation accuracy to keep the aircraft operational.
That's the main driver for this modification.
With the old navigation equipment this wasn't possible anymore. The photo of the "old cockpit clearly showed that the original Delco INS navigation was still present. These old INS systems are also a maintenance nightmare in the present time. Less and less possibilities for repairs of this mechanical/analogue equiment are available in the near future.
The integration of a FMS , with a less accurate "strap-down" IRS but updated by GPS in an analogue built aircraft is already certified by several STC's on many 747 classics and is relative cheap.
IMHO the only "new"part of this upgrade is the size of the LCD screens and the fact that for the first time a (part of) the old dial instruments at the F/E panel are replaced by LCD screen(s).
This part of the modification is to lower the maintenance costs, because the analogue instruments will become very difficult to be serviced (=very expensive) in the near future.
Clearly this cockpit modification was the most cost-effective option to stay operational and satisfy the present and future navigational requirements and at the same time to lower the maintenance costs.
Modifying a more recent digital built aircraft to "Sofia-standard" would be far more expensive and funding for that project almost impossible.