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Feature Story

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Two ANA (All Nippon Airways) pilots share their experience of flying the 787 Dreamliner. They are the first airline crew to fly the all-new twin-engine airplane.

'It's Fantastic'

By Bernard Choi

Capt. Masami Tsukamoto could barely sleep the night before he flew the all-new 787 Dreamliner.

787 Dreamliner

BOEING PHOTO BY Gail Hanusa

Capt. Masami Tsukamoto, right, gives the thumbs up after his first time flying the 787 Dreamliner. Capt. Mike Carriker, chief test pilot of the 787, demonstrated features of the new plane during the flight.

"I've been waiting for this day since 2005," said Tsukamoto, one of the lead pilots at ANA (All Nippon Airways).

On May 12, Tsukamoto and his colleague Capt. Masayuki Ishii got the chance to evaluate the 787 first hand. While Boeing test pilots had logged nearly 700 flight hours on the fleet of test airplanes, no one outside the company had flown the new jets.

With Boeing test pilot Mike Carriker alongside in the flight deck, Tsukamoto taxied ZA001, the first 787, out onto the runway at Boeing Field. The months of practicing in a simulator behind him, Tsukamoto accelerated, sending the plane soaring over Seattle.

"Oh, that's fantastic, that's fantastic," Tsukamoto said. "I get the real 787 today, it's fantastic." .

"ANA passengers are in for an incredible experience when they fly on the 787," Captain Masayuki Ishii of ANA.

Tsukamoto flew the 787 towards the central part of Washington state where he swapped seats with Ishii. The pilots performed multiple takeoffs and landings as well as other maneuvers that allowed them to feel the airplane's characteristics.

ANA 787

BOEING PHOTO BY Bernard Choi

Capt. Masami Tsukamoto taxies the first Dreamliner, in the background, out to the runway. The second Dreamliner, painted in the livery of launch customer ANA (All Nippon Airways), is part of the flight-test fleet.

"We did some pretty good maneuvering," said Carriker. "We flew the airplane slow, fast, high and bank angles. We would simulate an engine failure by retarding an engine throttle to idle, by basically flying with one engine producing thrust."

"If a pilot has the certificate of a 777, it's easy to transfer to 787 because of procedures and the equipment," said Ishii.

"It's very safe and [requires] less workload," said Tsukamoto.

The flight was conducted under a special airworthiness certificate granted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

After nearly three hours of flying, the two pilots brought the plane back to Seattle, though they would have kept on flying if they could.

"I just realized its time for us to replace all fleet to 787 as soon as possible," Captain Tsukamoto of ANA.

"Today my dream came true," said Tsukamoto. "I just realized it's time for us to replace all [the ANA] fleet to 787s as soon as possible."

ANA 787

BOEING PHOTO BY Marian Lockhart

A contingent welcomes Captains Masami Tsukamoto and Masayuki Ishii after their first flight on the 787 Dreamliner.

"It was fantastic and an incredible experience," said Ishii. "ANA passengers are in for an incredible experience when they fly on the 787."

The 787 program was launched in April 2004 with a record order of 50 787's from ANA. The carrier, which plays an active role as launch customer, is scheduled to take the first 787 delivery in the fourth quarter of 2010.

"It's been a long hard road developing this airplane," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "This is the first step in demonstrating to our customer community that we've really done and accomplished what we set out to do: build an airplane for the next generation.