Cathay Pacific B777-200 Cockpit DVD.    Published by ITVV.    Reviewed by Terry McGee.


This cockpit DVD, was made in 1996 and features the Cathay Pacific B777-200 with Cathay Pacific Airways fleet manager B777, Captain Graeme Thompson, on a flight from Hong Kong Kai Tak to Auckland, New Zealand where he will do a landing configuration approach, a Go-Around, then a high-speed low level fly past, followed by a full stop landing. He then takes you into a B777 simulator, based in Hong Kong for a guided tour of the equipment and systems of the B777. Finally, we are taken back into the B777-200 cockpit on a flight from Auckland to Singapore.

There's also an additional video, 'Cathay Pacific Airways Corporate Video' which tells the story of how the was airline started by two aviators in 1946 with an investment of $30,000 and their first aircraft, 'Betsy' a DC3, which flew around Asia on charter flights. In 1948 the Swire Group invested in the airline and triggered an expansion of its regional network and itís fleet. In 1962 Cathay's launch into the jet age, saw further growth and by the end of the 1970ís it had routes beyond Asia, and by the late 1980's, it had established itself as a global airline with no-stop services bridging Asia with the West. Cathay invested over US$9,000 Million by 2000 in new wide body aircraft such as the A340 and A330, which replaced their fleet of Lockheed Tri-Stars. In 1996 the new B777's joined the fleet on long and medium haul routes, the same year they celebrated their 50th anniversary.

The DVD starts in February 1996, with a Cathay Pacific B777-200 (registration N77773) landing at Hong Kong, Kai Tak (filmed from the Airport). Captain Graeme Thompson joins us on the apron and informs us that Cathay have 11 firm orders for the 777, four -200 series (delivery in 1996), and seven -300 series (delivery in May 1998) and that Cathay are the launch customer for the -300 series. Behind him is a Cathay B777-200 which is there as part of the 1000 cycle validation program for early ETOPS. We will join him on the flightdeck with Boeing test pilot Captain Suzanna Darcy about one hour from Auckland, where they will do a fly past in the landing configuration and then reposition for a high-speed run across the airfield at approx. 500 ft and 325kts, then a right turn to join the traffic pattern and then land. As part of the test program, there are no passengers on the flight, only those directly involved in the test program.

It is Monday 12th February 1996 and we join Capt. Thompson in the left seat, and Capt. Darcy on the flightdeck on their initial descent from FL370 to Auckland. The camera, which is in the jump seat position, zooms in on the instruments - you will notice that the weather radar is set at different ranges on each Navigation Display (ND). At 2000 ft the landing checklist is completed and the ILS is active and Capt. Thompson goes though the missed approach procedure - climb to 3000 ft and Flight Directors turned back on. At 1000ft we get a shot of the aircraft approaching from a camera on the ground. For the Go-Around, max thrust is applied and Capt. Thompson hand flies it until 3000 ft. After the high-speed fly past he takes a right hand turn for a visual approach and full stop landing. On the final turn and the touchdown, the screen splits into two, showing the aircraft on approach on the top screen and the cockpit on the lower screen. We follow the aircraft while taxiing to the gate and shutting down.

We then join Capt. Thompson (who is a New Zealander), 46 hours later on the ramp in front of the 777 portside engine on a sunny day in Auckland. Since it landed in Auckland it has been to Sydney, Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong and back to Auckland, from where they will take it on a 9 hour and 50 minute flight to Singapore. The aircraft is being refuelled and inspected by engineers and he invites us to join him on his exterior pre-flight inspection, which starts at the nose wheel and continues right around the aircraft with great shots of the landing gear. Then it's into the flightdeck, where they have already received their clearance to Singapore (FL350) and while they are busy with their pre-flight preparations, we are treated to a 3 minute and 20 seconds video of the assembly of a 777, in fast forward motion! Meanwhile back in the flightdeck, they are just about to pushback during which we see the engine startup. During the pushback and taxi, we get to hear ATC in the background. While taxiing, they go though the departure briefing (Westpoint 1A, Runway 23) and we briefly get to see a  landing  Lockheed Electra with smoke trailing from it's four prop engines.

Once in the cruise we are treated to a few shots from the cabin windows and of the empty cabin, then we switch to one of the Cathay Pacific 777 Simulators in the Pilot Training facility in Hong Kong. The reason for this is that part of the 1000 Cycle ETOPS programme, the aircraft used on the flight was a test aircraft which required a number of tests to be done on the aircraft during the flight. So, in order to have more time to have a look around the flightdeck, it was done in the simulator. This is one of eight training simulators which Cathay had at the time: 1 x TriStar, 2 x B747 (1 Classic version and 1 fixed base), 3 x B747-400 (Level 4), 1 Airbus A330/340 convertible, and the B777, which was delivered 6 Months earlier. Unlike the B747-400, the B777 is equipped with LCD screens, which are smaller, lighter, cooler, and clearer to read in vastly differing light conditions. Capt. Thompson then describes the functions of the PFD (Primary Flight Display), ND (Navigation Display) - of interest here is that when 'airports' are selected, it displays any airport which is capable of taking the 777. Also, the Weather Radar is normally set in the region of -1 degrees down, but when set to -3, you get a ground return. The Standby Instruments, EICAS (Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System), FMC (Flight Management Computer), MFD (Multi Function Display), MCP (Mode Control Panel), which also incorporates the EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument System), Overhead Panel, Centre Pedestal, including a detailed look at the FMC and the CCD (Curser Control Device) which allows the flight crew to access some communication information and operate the Electronic Checklists. This has a touch sensitive pad, which allows them to move the curser around the MFD.

While still in the simulator, we then reposition at the threshold of runway 13 at Hong Kong for a 'Thrust Asymmetry Compensation' (TAC) demonstration after an engine failure on takeoff. TAC assesses the amount of thrust being produced by each engines and should their be differential, it applies rudder automatically to compensate. The simulator is programmed for V1 at 115 kts and an engine failure at 120 kts and when this happens, the TAC automatically applies rudder to compensate. Because of the Boeing philosophy of operations the Pilot must also apply a little bit of rudder to keep the aircraft straight and to ensure he is aware of which engine has failed. In order for us to see the TAC working, the lower screen, which displays the flight controls, is left on for this demonstration.

The final section of the guided tour of the flightdeck is on 'Fly by Wire' (FBW) technology, including the three modes of operating in FBW: Normal Mode, Secondary Mode and Direct Law. A manual is used to show how the electrical signals from the Control Column, Rudder Pedals, Aileron, Trim and Speed Brakes are passed to the computers and then to the hydraulic units, which operate the control surfaces. There are also two mechanical connections - cables are connected to the Elevators and to number 4 and 11 Spoilers. He gives demonstrations on the protection of exceeding the Bank Angle, Speed and Stall flight envelopes. For the Bank Angle demo, he turns the aircraft left to a 60 degree angle and has to hold it level with back pressure on the control column and when he let's go of the control column, the computers return the aircraft to when it was level.

Now we go back to the real 777 flightdeck where they are descending through 5000 ft on approach to runway 02L at Singapore on a wet day (the windscreen wipers are intermittently used). Although they call visual with the runway, we can't see it until approx. 200 ft, due to the position of the camera. This very enjoyable program ends after engine shutdown and a final goodbye from Capt. Thompson.

I choose to review this DVD because I have flown on a Singapore Airlines B777 from Singapore to Sydney and Sydney to Singapore in 2004 and found it to be a lovely aircraft. While this DVD is very well produced, there are a few things that were missing: although we can clearly hear what Capt. Thompson is saying, it is difficult to hear what Capt. Suzanna Darcy is saying. Unfortunately, we only hear ATC while departing Auckland, which results in long spells of silence. While on approach, this is really missed as we don't know where we are on the approach, or if there is other traffic around. Also, there's only one camera in the cockpit, which offers only one view angle at Shoulder level from the Jump Seat and because of this we don't get a good outside view from the front window.  However, given that this was recorded in 1996 may be the reason, as future cockpit DVDs use multiple cameras and include all ATC transmissions. Overall, I enjoyed this introduction to the wonderful B777-200 and this DVD would of great interest to those who are interested in Fly-by-Wire aircraft.

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