BORDERLINE VERTICAL TAKE-OFFS. Stomach-roiling side-to-side rolls. Banking so hard the wings look like they might snap. These are moves you expect from a fighter jet, not a commercial airliner. But for Boeing test pilots Randy Neville, Van Chaney, and John Misuradze, they perfectly demonstrate the capabilities of the 787-9 Dreamliner.
We’ve seen such flights before, and Boeing is no stranger to showing off what its planes can do. But it’s still fun to watch.
At 206 feet long, the ‘Dash 9’ is the latest and biggest Dreamliner yet (at least until the 787-10 arrives) and among the most advanced passenger jets in the sky. Boeing used carbon fiber composites to produce a lighter, stronger airplane, with features like extra big windows, highly computerized flight controls, and heads-up displaysfor the pilots.
This test flight in Moses Lake, Washington, allowed the captains to have some fun and practice for their upcoming technical demonstration at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK next week. They’ll be demonstrating the aircraft’s skills to the public, and to potential buyers. So far, 38 customers have placed 571 orders for the 787-9, which entered service in 2014.
Boeing’s flight operations and flight test and evaluation teams monitor these stunts, keeping an eye on high-angle banking and roll authority to make sure they’re safe. The moves are just a demonstration of what the plane can do if it needs to, so the roughly 230 passengers who’ll climb aboard this plane once it’s delivered to All Nippon Airways can leave their vomit bags back in the seat pocket.