Aug 16, 2007

The Revolution Refined...

The B767 further refined the jet age revolution in two key ways. First by increasing the level of flight deck automation, and second by reducing the number of pilots needed to operate the aircraft.

The first feature was an inevitable inclusion of computer-based technology into the pilot's work space, and subsequent airliners continue in this trend. But the '67 was the first glass cockpit.

The second feature was a logical follow-on. Up until then, all wide body airplanes required three pilots and perhaps a navigator to cross the ocean. But then they also needed three or four engines. Boeing challenged this thinking, first by dropping the extra engines and then by proposing that only two pilots could safely manage this "much" airplane.

Smaller twin-engine airliners had managed to fly with just two pilots for quite a while, although some airline unions did temporarily impose a third pilot on early B737 flight decks. It must have been crowded.

The earliest B767s were delivered with a third crew-member seat and panel, but the lack of meaningful controls on this back panel spoke volumes about the necessity of the third pilot. Eventually the two-pilot "jumbo" became as accepted as the two-engine over-water operation. Increasing automation was later back-spilled to the B747, as the 400 series became a two-pilot vehicle as well. But that's another story.

Here's a short tour of the 2-crew 767 flight deck and some of the automation. (note: the screens don't really flicker like that. This is an effect caused by the interaction of a video recorder and a CRT screen.)

1 comment:

Johnny Wadd said...

Another very interesting post, i've been loving your coverage of all of boeing's 7 series.