Presently, I am in training on the B-787. There are a number of features on this aircraft that are unique improvements. A few of these are worth mentioning, elaborating on their function, and discussing their significance as they relate to ARFF crews.
The B-787 uses electrical systems more than any other transport category aircraft I have seen before. Most systems are powered by the engine driven generators with two generators on each engine including two generators on the tail mounted APU.
The aircraft brakes are electrically powered eliminating the problem of hydraulic leaks on hot brakes. This electrical brake system is much cleaner, as well as more compact.
The brakes have temperature sensors on them that can be read on the flight deck with temperature readings that go from 1.0 to 8.0 (MAX).
Any reading below 5.0 is considered normal. Above 5.0 is in the caution zone and over 7.0 is in the fuze plug melt zone. Pilots are not able to convert these numbers 1.0 to 8.0 to conventional temperature readings. As a result, ARFF crews working with the B-787 should be familiar with the 1.0 to 8.0 scale.
Like other aircraft, there are three independent hydraulic systems which chiefly power the flight controls and landing gear. Notably, the B-787 hydraulics run at 5000 PSI as compared to most other systems which only run at 3000 PSI. Operating at a higher pressure allows the components to be smaller, lighter and more efficient.
There is a box located on the nose gear that allows exterior operation of the APU fire bottle. This is also the location of the intercom connection allowing direct wire communications between ground personnel and the flight deck.
The B-787 is a long-range aircraft with crew rest areas above the cabin in the forward and aft section of the aircraft. The forward crew rest area is designated for the pilots, and the seats or seat in that rest area is rated for occupancy during takeoff and landing. Most of the time, the rest area will not be occupied during these times, but it is approved for it, and at times it will happen.
In addition, the B-787-8 and B-787-9 have four cabin doors that all operate identically. Opening the cabin doors from the outside will automatically disarm the escape slide. As a cabin door is opened, a panel in the upper section of the door will open to help relieve cabin pressure, if there is any. In just about all operations, the cabin on ALL aircraft will be depressurized on the ground. The flight deck has an emergency escape hatch in the ceiling. The escape hatch hinges inward to the flight deck. If the pilots use the escape hatch, they will come down on inertia reals, which are mounted in the flight deck. Keep in mind, the flight deck windows do NOT open.
Clearly, the B-787 aircraft has distinguishing advancements. I am looking forward to flying this aircraft and not meeting you while I’m flying.
Boeing’s “Airplane Rescue and Firefighting Information” for the 787 can be found at:
About the Author: John McLoughlin has been a commercial pilot for over 30 years. He is currently a B-767 Captain with a B-787 type rating for a major U.S airline. He also holds a position on the Airline Pilots Association (APA) Union Safety Committee. Both John and his father Jack also served as volunteer firefighters.