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

7E7 pilot’s got lots to do before the plane flies

Dennis O’Donoghue

Dennis O’DonoghueDennis 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."

To that end, O'Donoghue will spend hundreds of hours in various 7E7 simulators before the first airplane takes flight. But more than that, he will spend thousands of hours in meetings.

"Meetings may not sound that interesting, but when I step back and think about it, how much more exciting could a job be?" he said. "We stand to take the next big step forward in our industry with new technologies and new capabilities. It's the meetings—the discussions and the decisions of experts—that enable us to achieve our goals."

Before joining Boeing in 1996, O'Donoghue was a NASA research pilot who worked on a variety of aeronautical research and space science programs. He initially resisted Boeing's interest in recruiting him to be a test pilot for the Joint Strike Fighter program. But less than a month later, he was the lead test pilot of the X-32B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing Concept Demonstrator Aircraft.

While the loss was disappointing, O'Donoghue said he never developed an emotional attachment to the X-32B, as some might expect. Instead, the attachment was with the Boeing JSF team, he said.

"When I walked around the airplane, I could look at any switch, any panel, and it would remind of the people who created it. To this day, I can put two or three names to every part of that marvelous airplane. When we finally reached the first hover and successfully demonstrated the vertical landing, it was the culmination of years of dreams, dedication and hard work, and it was an honor to be a part of it."

—Lori Gunter


Front Page
Contact Us | Site Map| Site Terms | Privacy | Copyright
Copyright© Boeing. All rights reserved.