Rcair1 From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 928 posts, RR: 25 Posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 4054 times:
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As I've been waiting for the 787 first flight (tomorrow please!), I've been watching various "first flight" videos and noticed something. The Airbus first flight videos I've found (340, 330, 380, M400) showed the pilots and flight crews wearing orange suits, helmets, live vests and parachutes. Most of the Boeing first flights I've been able to find (757, 777, 747) show them wearing normal 'clothes' - no helmets, and certainly no parachutes. The 727 ones appear to be wearing helmets, as viewed from outside, but I could not tell about other equipment and that video does not have interior cockpit views as the others do.
So - is this a policy difference between Airbus and Boeing, or a requirements difference in Europe vs the US. And are there even parachutes on board the Boeing first flights (and could you even bail out effectively on a modern airliner.
I love this quote, it really sums up flight testing:
"That's what we do," he said. "We find things so our customers don't have to."
Note: Boeing flight test pilots usually fly in a tan flight suit. I expect the pilots changed on board.
Test crew requirements are pretty universal in attire for experimental aircraft: flight suit (no personal clothes that can snag on exit or create a FOD issue, e.g., no tie dropping into flight controls), approved boots with socks (in case you must jump from the airframe, most steel toe boots qualify as long as they go above the ankel), underwear (ugh... yes, this had to be made a requirement not to go comando, its ok to wear jogging shorts or even a swim suit, athletic attire is much more comfy), optional use of other clothing underneith the flight suit (most people wear t-shirts, one of our guys gets cold so he usually has a turtleneck or sweater), flight approved jacket (you do not get to fly in a unknown flamability jacket if its cold onboard, and prototypes never have the temperature control 'tuned in' day one).
For flights that fly unpressurized, everyone puts on thermals.
Plus every flight crew member has a certain 'kit' at their station: Flashlight, 2nd set of batteries for the flashlight, EPOX (evacuation oxygen), primary oxygen, built in computer networked to the ground with a fixed keyboard that won't go flying (excludes pilot and co-pilot, but there is ususally a "Captain", a 3rd pilot in charge during flight test. Boeing doesn't like to do that though and will instead have an engineer read the test cards).
Test cards are often strapped to the leg. More extensive missions have binders, but the critical 'oh sh&%' cards stay on the leg.
Heck, we control everything brought onboard (count paper, pens, must use company bought batteries, regulate jewelry, etc.).
For a first flight, the flight crew is far fewer in number than later flights.
Quoting Rcair1 (Thread starter): So - is this a policy difference between Airbus and Boeing, or a requirements difference in Europe vs the US.
It is a mixture of corporate culture and test order. But in Boeing's case, they do the PR photos and then put on the flight suits. The crew usually put a dufel onboard. Usually, the 'coat closets' have been installed to stow clothing. These will often hold the pilots flight suits (but not the flight engineers).
Once into later flight testing (fewer photos), everyone just goes to the plane in flight suits. We've never worn anything but company or customer colors. Nothing super bright colored flight suits.
Rcair1 From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 928 posts, RR: 25 Reply 2, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 3762 times:
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Thanks for the information Lightsaber. This all makes a lot of sense - and the article was very interesting. Especially reading about the 777 going inverted during recovery from the full flaps stall - never heard about that.
I see where they say they carried parachutes - so that answered part of the question. As for the 'normal clothes' - I did notice the visible part of the pilots clothes in the 777 video did appear different than the business shirt he had on when walking around the plane.
However, this is a pretty drastic difference from the Airbus videos - the crew is wearing helmets, parachutes and flotation devices. There is even one part of the A340 clip that shows somebody helping one of them put on the parachute.
--> Frankly, if you think you are going to need a parachute, you probably should have it on.
Here is the A340 video
Time 1:01 - you see them walking out in the bright orange flight suits. 5 people
Time 1:12 - donning flotation
Time 1:14 - pilot/engineer sitting down with parachute on.
Time 1:24 - cockpit crew fully fitted
Compare this to the 777 video (Cashmann) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8erXQGgr7VE
Time 1:16 - walking around, note the blue shirt.
Time 1:34 - suit and tie (out of order?)
Time 2:15 - in the cockpit - now a light purple shirt - must be the top of a jumpsuit, but notably different than the Airbus. You can see a helmet in the background (on a seat)
Lightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 10695 posts, RR: 100 Reply 3, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3605 times:
Unfortunately, I am blocked from youtube right now.
It is possible they flew sans jacket and ties. But that would be... odd to me. The Boeing flight test pilots I've known put on a flight suit. I wouldn't want to try to get out any of the crew hatches in normal clothing!
Quoting Rcair1 (Reply 2): Frankly, if you think you are going to need a parachute, you probably should have it on.
***** warning, getting into a purely personal opinion here ******
I disagree with that. To utilize a parachute, the plane has to be flown slow, at lower altitude, and without any cabin pressure (doors do not open with cabin pressure). Most engineering consoles are up near the cockpit. To evacuate, one must use a rear door, preferably the cargo hold access door or the e-bay door (e.g., in the 747). It is unlikely a pilot could parachute.
Unless one is sending the plane out over the Pacific (or other ocean), the abandoned plane is now a flight hazard.
In my opinion, the safest course of action would be to land the plane. There are situations where landing could be unsafe. But to be safe enough to parachute, the plane would have to be stable on autopilot.
e.g., I was once witness to a prototype with a broken flap (MAYDAY call). It was un-landable due to an instability at landing Mach numbers. But enough fuel was on-board to analyze the aerodynamics, re-program flight simulators, and test out some really 'out of the box' flight control settings. Note: The flap broke partly open during high Mach number flap deployment. The flap broke at very high altitude (low air pressure and thus low force on the flap, but it had the full 'shock wave' potential which is what broke the flap).
Commercial planes are not designed for parachute opperation. I personally would rather trust the pilot to land a plane than jump.
That guy needs to right a book. Just the Flaps Full / Stall situation of the 777 was interesting leaving me wanting to know more. If he took his 40 years of test piloting, with all the stories, hmmmmm...that would be a great book.
Max777geek From Italy, joined Mar 2007, 538 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3101 times:
Quoting Rcair1 (Thread starter): I've been watching various "first flight" videos and noticed something. The Airbus first flight videos I've found (340, 330, 380, M400) showed the pilots and flight crews wearing orange suits, helmets, live vests and parachutes. Most of the Boeing first flights I've been able to find (757, 777, 747) show them wearing normal 'clothes' - no helmets, and certainly no parachutes.
Rcair1 From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 928 posts, RR: 25 Reply 9, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3073 times:
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Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 3): It is possible they flew sans jacket and ties. But that would be... odd to me. The Boeing flight test pilots I've known put on a flight suit. I wouldn't want to try to get out any of the crew hatches in normal clothing!
Too bad you're blocked from youtube. Here are a couple of screen captures.
This is from the A340 video
This is from the B777 video. Note the pilots clothing does look like a jumpsuit with name of some sort.
Regarding 'time available to bail out', I think there are two scenarios - the one you described (which I was reading about last night) where the plane was flyable, but not landable, but with time and fuel to figure out an alternative, and the second where things go bad relatively fast.
In the first case - there would have been time and more to suit up and bail out if need be.
In the second, no time - but chances are you could not make it to an escape hatch anyway (ejection seat anybody?)
I think bailing out of a disabled commercial jet liner is iffy at best (understatement?). Clearly last resort - even if there is an escape hatch as has been mentioned re: the AB's. Getting out without getting whacked by something on the plane - very hard.
That would tend to support the B approach - if it goes bad fast, likely with relatively high g factors and such, no point in having parachute on. If it goes bad slow - then getting suited up is certainly viable. First choice, get the plane on the ground safely.
On the 787's first flight today, Boeing must plan for every possibility.
The jet will have a standby radio phone, and Carriker and co-pilot Randy Neville will carry six handheld radios. They'll also have two parachutes.
In the worst-case scenario, they can flip a switch behind them that will blow out eight windows to depressurize the airplane. Another switch will detonate a charge to blow off an exit door behind the right wing. Then they can jump.