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

Safety is the ultimate responsibility

Mike Carriker

Mike CarrikerIt 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.

"Over the last 30 years," said Carriker, "test pilots have gone from just taking the airplane as it was designed and testing it to having an important role in design decisions from the very earliest days of the program."

Ultimately, Carriker is responsible for ensuring that from a pilot's point of view the 7E7 is safe. It's a responsibility that weighs heavily on any chief pilot, one that is shared with the chief engineer.

"I've been involved in the past with accident investigations. It provides a perspective that few get to see or experience," Carriker said. "For every decision we make, it is the safety of the crew and passengers that we consider first."

The responsibility of a test pilot is symbolized in the first flight of the airplane, said Carriker. "The whole team is focused on what we are doing and what we need to do next. But there is that moment when you call for takeoff that you realize you have the hopes and ambitions of the entire company with you, that you have the backing of hundreds of thousands of people."

—Lori Gunter


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