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In terms of piloting, how does the 787 compare to other aircraft such as the 767 or A350?

Well, I have a fair amount of time on two out of the three of these airplanes, the 787 and the 767: about 2,200 hours as a captain on the 787 and about 9,600 hours on the 757/767. I also flew the Boeing 777 for a couple of years as a first officer. I’ll try to answer your question the best I can.

What I found interesting about the 787, when I started flying it, was how similar in terms of control feel it does have to the 767. Likewise the 777, all very similar. No accident there, the Boeing designers wanted it to be that way and I would like to thank them for that. Thank you, Boeing!

Just a tiny bit of background. Since both the 777 and the 787 are fly by wire aircraft, any control feel is artificially generated by what is called a “backdrive actuator.” From those, control feel is provided such that it’s very difficult to tell the difference between these aircraft and the control feel of a 767, our reference aircraft. I would like to point out that the airline I fly for does operate different variants of the 767, the 767–200 (retired several years ago), the -300 and the –400, so we can’t just say “767,” without distinguishing the differences between those variants. (I never flew the -300 as I went to the 787 before I had the opportunity.) I did fly the -200 and -400 though, and the difference between those two aircraft was apparent in that the 767–200 was noticeably more pitch sensitive than the -400 was. Both are wonderful, but I think I prefer the -200, maybe because the -200 really is like a sports car. It’s easy to climb to 35,000 in about 15 minutes in that airplane which is an average of over 2,300 feet per minute! You can’t do that in a -400, no way! And the -200 was a LOT more forgiving in the flare during landing, very conventional. The 767–400 required the pilot take special care not to pull the power off abruptly below twenty or thirty feet, or it would just develop a sink rate. Then it was anybody’s guess how hard the touchdown was going to be. Not dangerous, but harder than anybody likes. So the power on that airplane needs to be gradually retarded in that region to be completely off by touchdown. As far as the way the airplane flies, well it’s very smooth and stable; similar to the 787.

Now speaking of the 787, oh, what a dream machine. Well, they call it the Dreamliner for a reason and that is because it is for the pilots, too. It’s really got no bad qualities. It has no special flare techniques, great power, it’s fast, quiet, comfortable, amazing avionics and fuel efficient like you wouldn’t believe. We’ve got three different variants of that airplane, the -8, -9, and -10. The vast majority of my flight time is on the -9, since I fly mainly to Asia. We can go all the way from San Francisco to Singapore without batting an eye. Actually they’re batting lots of eyes in the back; my flight time record is 17:05, so the folks have plenty of time for relaxing on the airplane. I would say the average flight time is about 16:40. When you think about it, that’s like a minor miracle in terms of how far we’ve come in the last 100 years or so. We’re talking over 8,700 statute miles. By the way, the 767 cannot come close to doing this.

I just flew the -10 the other day on a trans-con from San Francisco to Newark. Taxiing the airplane requires care; it’s longer, 224 feet 1 inch from stem to stern. Handling-wise on the taxiway, it does of course feel bigger, but in flight, indistinguishable from the other two. All three aircraft are equipped with a Head Up Display (HUD), which is used below 18,000 feet per airline policy, although it can be used at all times, if desired. I’m spoiled now; I really like having it and I wouldn’t want to go back to not having one. It’s a great resource for low visibility takeoffs as well as all types of approaches, and really most any phase of flight.

So in all, to stay as close to your question as possible, if what you mean by “piloting” is what the control feel and handling characteristics are like, there are a few subtle differences between these aircraft, but it’s not so that it would require much getting used to, necessarily. If one were to expand the definition to include all the modern features available to 787 flight crews, well, let’s put it this way, when I jumpseat on the 767, I feel like I’m taking a trip down memory lane!

Oh, one more thing. The 787 is fast. Some of you may have heard about the 787 that was doing 800 mph over the ground the week of February 17, 2019. Well, I was flying that night as well, on my way to Frankfurt and we were going just as fast. We took a very southerly route, right across the United States, then up into Canada before going across the Atlantic that night to take advantage of those winds and to stay out of the turbulence forecasted over Greenland. Approaching the east coast of the U.S., I was flying at Mach 0.87, which yielded a true airspeed (TAS) of 509 knots, or 586 mph. The winds were nearly right on the tail at 193 knots, or 222 mph. This resulted in a ground speed (GS) of 695 knots, or right at 800 mph! It was worth taking a picture of, so here is the proof! That, you cannot do in a 767, trust me when I tell you that.

Okay, I could go on, but there’s some of the major differences. I hope this was helpful to you!

Source: Quora
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