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Boeing Frontiers
March 2004
Volume 02, Issue 10
Boeing Frontiers
Main Feature

They pass the test

The phrase 'test pilot' might make you think of a daring aviator. But at Boeing, the people in this role simply consider themselves as one of a business program's many dedicated members—even if at times they'll do things the manual says not to do. Here's a look at some of the test pilots at Boeing.

From gliders to rotorcraft

Fred AustinThe chief test pilot for Boeing Rotorcraft started his flying career in gliders. "When you learn to fly gliders, something has already gone 'wrong': You have no engine," said Mark Metzger. "So you are always thinking, where can I go? What are my options? What happens is more dependent on you than on the aircraft."

Those are the same kinds of questions that a test pilot needs ready answers for, especially if things are not going to plan, Metzger stressed. "You have the rest of your life to get those answers right," he said wryly. "But that may not be very long."


An office with a great view

Suzanna Darcy-HennemanEvery time Suzanna Darcy-Henneman sits down in the first seat of a Boeing airplane, she looks out the window and considers herself fortunate to be getting paid for doing what she loves most in life. Darcy, now the lead test pilot on the 777 program, has had this feeling for the past 19 years.

Darcy joined Boeing in 1974 and spent her first seven years in engineering. She became a trainer for airline pilots, and in 1985 was named a Boeing Production Test pilot, becoming the first woman hired in this capacity at Boeing. In 1989 she became the first woman rated as a captain on the 747-400—and on the 737, 757 and 767.


Keen eye for details helps contain risks

Mike WallacePeople view test pilots as heroes—men and women ready to take unbelievable chances to take aerospace one step closer to the future. But the reality is somewhat different, said Boeing Integrated Defense Systems test pilot Mike Wallace, who flies the T-45 Goshawk, the F/A-18 Hornet and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

"It's not as glamorous or as dangerous as that," said Wallace, who works primarily at Boeing test facilities at Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Md. "We have a lot of built-in safety."


Sound advice on pilot safety

Dave CarbaughWhile attending 767 training, Dave Carbaugh once received some advice from Gordon Bethune, current chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Airlines Inc.: "Make a decision, don't just waffle about it!"

Carbaugh said he uses Bethune's advice while working with airline customers. "The challenge is to give sound advice to customers that could be for a life-or-death situation—and make sure it's the right decision," said Carbaugh, chief pilot of Commercial Airplanes' Flight Operations Safety organization. "I know one thing will always remain the same—and a priority: provide advice on safety." The Flight Operations Safety organization is a key part of the Boeing Commercial Airplanes strategy to provide a safe and efficient global air transportation system.


Flights are generally ‘ho-hum’—and that’s good

Fred AustinFred Austin is like millions of other people who go to the office every day. Only his office is the cockpit of a C-17 Globemaster III.

"I'd like to tell you that every test flight is a thrill ride," said Austin, a Boeing Integrated Defense Systems test pilot for the huge airlift aircraft. But "there's a great deal of preparation and planning that go into making our flights routine."

Certified for Night Vision Goggle flying, Austin was involved in the development of the C-17 NVG system—a system used in Operation Iraqi Freedom under total blackout conditions.


Dennis O’Donoghue7E7 pilot’s got lots to do before the plane flies

Dennis O'Donoghue serves as deputy project pilot for the Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner. Sounds like an easy job, since the airplane won't fly for another three years. But the work is reaching a feverish pitch.

"If we want to make a difference in how the 7E7 flies and operates, now is the time to do so," O'Donoghue said. "As Boeing test pilots, we're representing the thousands of pilots who will fly this airplane for decades to come. We owe it to them and Boeing to ensure that the design decisions being made today will make the airplane safer and more efficient to operate."


Thrill’s not gone for 'crusty son of a gun'

Fred KnoxFred Knox wanted to be an engineer when he was growing up. But by the time he was in college, "I decided that flying high-performance planes and being part of developing new systems was what wanted to do," he said.

As one of two Boeing Integrated Defense Systems test pilots assigned to the F/A-22 program, Knox gets to fly the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world. To date, he's accumulated more than 5,000 flight hours in mostly military high-performance jets.



Mike CarrikerSafety is the ultimate responsibility

It wasn't just the art of flying that convinced Mike Carriker to pursue a career as a flight-test pilot. It was also a deep interest in the science of flying.

As the chief test pilot of the Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner, Carriker spends more time in design meetings talking about how airplanes should fly and how pilots should interact with the airplane than actually flying. But he is convinced that those meetings are what will make the 7E7 a success for Boeing and for the airlines that operate the new airplane.


‘Nothing quite like flying a tiltrotor’

Tom Macdonald As V-22 chief test pilot for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Tom Macdonald has seen his share of ups and downs. He has experienced the highs of pushing the aircraft to uncharted technical territory, and the saddening lows of losing teammates and friends in a series of tragic accidents. Through it all, Macdonald has maintained a positive outlook and a commitment to flight-test excellence. "It's important to stay focused on delivering safe, reliable aircraft to our customers," he said.

Macdonald joined the Boeing V-22 program in 1991, and flew the Osprey shortly thereafter. His logbook includes flights in more than 20 military and civilian aircraft, from fixed-wing jets to attack helicopters. Topping the list, said Macdonald, is the V-22, a multimission, multiservice tiltrotor developed and produced by Boeing IDS in Philadelphia and Bell Helicopter Textron in Fort Worth, Texas. The Osprey can take off and land like a helicopter and, once airborne, rotate its engine nacelles forward to convert to airplane mode.



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