Fantasy Dreamliner flight offers virtual dose of reality
on 13/09/2013 00:00:00
Yesterday, this journalist got to experience what it's like to sit in the cockpit of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner as it prepares to approach London Heathrow.
Naturally enough, the lives of hundreds of passengers weren't placed in my hands. But a British Airways mobile flight simulator provides a pretty good version of what it must be like in reality.
Making it look simple, BA pilot Phil Smyth demonstrates how an ideal flight path comes in at a three degree trajectory to the ground, while all the time making minor adjustments to the controls in order to touch down on the centre of the runway.
Taking over the yoke - the correct name for a plane's "steering wheel" - and it's not long before the aircraft is in a major nosedive. Corrective action to avoid a controlled flight into terrain, sees me bank the 787 hard left to such a degree that the horizon virtually disappears.
Reassuringly, Phil laughs: "Nobody manages to land safely on their first attempt."
However, the experience does leave you with a much greater appreciation of the skills of all airline pilots and amazement at their ability to read a dizzying number of controls on their instrument panel.
The simulator was in Dublin yesterday to promote the airline's involvement in the Flightfest aviation spectacular in Dublin next Sunday which is expected to attract more than 100,000 onlookers.
In the real, non-simulated world, Irish people can now travel on the Dreamliner out of London Heathrow as BA has introduced the jet on services to Toronto.
The 787 will also be used on BA flights from Heathrow to Newark from Oct 1 and to Austin, Texas, from Mar 3, 2014, as the aircraft is set to become the mainstay of BA's long-haul fleet over the coming years.
As for this would-be pilot, he'll be taking a more grounded approach in future.