Boeing 777 startup. Intricacies of PMDG add-on and it’s in depth simulation. Review mixed with startup tutorial.
First, let me explain what this text is not about.
I hate this “clickology” kind of tutorials where someone simply points to what should be clicked and the reader learns nothing but how to get through the process without a clue what he (or she) is actually doing.
I would like to focus on why the pilot is pressing buttons – I am interested in the reasons for actions we take flying this plane. If you are looking for a magical “what to click and when” guide – open your checklist. If you instead want to know the value of the PMDG 777 and it’s systems – you may find this text interesting.
I will skip FMC programming in this text – FMC will be covered later.
Cold and Dark
I will show the startup from “cold and dark” state. In this case the crew boarded the plane early in the morning, no one was inside since yesterday and everything is turned off. It is not the usual situation – pilots normally receive the plane with the power connected and some systems already running. That is why Electrical Power Up is a Supplementary procedure (instead of Normal Procedure).
I can configure PMDG 777 through CDU MENU page. If the plane is in Cold and Dark state I will hold the MENU button until the screen turns on and shows MENU page.
On the illustration above you can see three CDU panels opened side by side. I did it just to show you three important config pages (obviously I use only one CDU panel). On the left you can see FUEL page. PAYLOAD page on the middle one allows me to set passengers and payload. CONNECTIONS page on the right sets ground connections – power, compressed air (for startup) and external air conditioning.
In this case I will use an unusual (for this location – I am in San Francisco) setup – with no external connections at all. I will use aircraft batteries and APU to start my engines.
Aircraft configuration works similarly to FMC pages – new data should be entered in the scratchpad and moved to appropriate field with FMC keys on the left and right of the screen. Some values are toggled when the button is pressed. I especially like the ability to enter values with my PC keyboard (click on the scratchpad to activate this feature).
For this flight I selected Boeing 777-300 and filled it up with fuel (for a trans-pacific flight and bad weather). I have eight passengers in the first class, 40 (of 42 possible) in business and 200 (of 304) in coach. Plus 9,5 tons of cargo and baggage. As you can see on the right screen – the airport provided wheel chocks only.
It is time to search for battery button (actually – I should turn the lights on before passengers boarded but for the purpose of this text I decided to keep it organized and changed the order of things a little).
Electrical Power Up
I take the FCOM and look for Supplementary Procedure (SP) 6.2. Electrical Power Up.
I press BATTERY button – it seems like the current flows through systems – some indicators lit up. Among others – Generator OFF lights came up. At this moment I can ignore it.
A little digression – 777 has an automated power management system that decides which systems should be powered first – that is why most of the indicator lights in cockpit stayed dark.
I check C1 and C2 PRIMARY pump switches – both are off. As they should.
I check DEMAND pump selectors – all off. Correct.
Let’s stop at this point. Why am I checking this? I checked if the two pumps of the central hydraulic system (C1 and C2) are off. I do not have to turn right and left pump off because they are driven by the engine. C1 and C2 are electrically driven – they should not consume electrical power when the systems are started.
Demand pumps are turned on automatically when there is an increased demand on hydraulic system. Right and left pump are electrically driven and the power for central pumps is provided by bleed air (coming from engines or APU). All should be turned off – I have a better use for electricity and APU bleed air (once I turn the APU on).
I check WIPERS selectors – both off. Ok.
Landing gear lever – down. Ok.
ALTERNATE FLAPS selector – off. Checked.
I am making sure that the systems that could use electrical power are turned off.
Electrical power – Establish
I will use APU so I skip to the appropriate point of the checklist.
APU GENERATOR switch – ON – just checking – it was ON.
APU selector – START, then ON – I turn it to START, then it turns to ON by itself (it is spring loaded)… and nothing happens. If EICAS display is available you can see APU being started and it’s RPM increasing. Do not get confused by the lack of sound – APU is just a small gas turbine on 777’s tail and you can not hear it from the cockpit. After a minute the APU is running.
Another digression – in a modern plane like 777 ON position means very often “armed”. That is why most systems are “on” even in the cold and dark plane. They will turn themselves to “on” as soon as the power is available.
Back to the start up – after one minute the cockpit is alive – screens are being turned on, fans make a humming noise…
If you wish to know how good the sound is in this add-on – do a little test. Find EQUIP COOLING and both RECIRC FANS buttons in overhead panel. Turn them off (they are on by default). You will hear how the fans stop. But it is not immediate. The fans will keep turning for a moment as they slow down. Sound volume decreases as the air slows down in cooling ducts.
Supplementary Procedury (SP) 6.2. Electrical Power Up is finished. Back to Normal Procedures.
ADIRU – OFF 30 seconds, then ON – after 30 seconds passed i turn ADIRU (overhead panel) on.
Verify that ON BAT and OFF lights are off – checked.
STATUS DISPLAY – check – I check if all warnings are expected. Seems so. Oil, oxygen and hydraulic fluid levels – ok.
Maintenance documents – check – I am pretty sure that all documents are in order.
Overhead maintenance panel – guards closed – checked.
Circuit breakers – checked – FSX limitations do not allow for the circuit breakers simulation in such a plane so I skip this point.
Parking brake – as needed. Parking brake is needed if pilot is going to check brakes during walk around.
At this point flight crew programs the FMC. I will cover this part in a separate tutorial.
Instead of a walk around I open FAILURES page in FMC MENU and check if everything is ok. It is.
Preflight – continued
FMC is set – crew checks cockpit panels.
THRUSST ASSYMMETRY COMPENSATION switch – AUTO. Checked. I double check if OFF light is extinguished.
PRIMARY FLIGHT COMPUTERS DISCONNECT switch – Guard closed. Checked.
ELECTRICAL panel – Set. I set the Electrical panel:
BATTERY switch – ON. I check if the OFF light is extinguished. It is. Battery switch is on. Checked.
IFE/PASS SEATS power switch – ON. Checked – ON, OFF extinguished.
CABIN UTILITY power switch – ON. Checked ON, OFF extinguished.
APU GENERATOR switch – ON. Checked ON, OFF extinguished.
BUS TIE switches – AUTO. ISLN (isolation) lights are extinguished. Checked. AUTO – Checked.
GENERATOR CONTROL switches – ON. Checked – ON, OFF light is on – checked. (do you remember what I wrote about armed systems – generators are armed but off).
DRIVE lights – checked – on.
APU – I already turned it on so I just check if the FAULT light is extinguished. It is. I would turn on the APU if the plane was connected to airport power source.
CAMERA LIGHT switch – As needed. Off – I do not need it in daytime.
L WIPER selector – OFF. Checked.
It makes no sense to copy the entire checklist – I hope you have a general idea what is going on.
Preflight procedures for captain and FO are there to help prepare the plane for startup and flight. Some systems are turned on, other are armed and there are a few which are turned off (to reduce power consumption). In most cases – the pushbuttons and switches are already in the correct position – I just check if everything is ok.
Preflight Procedure – First Officer is 12 pages long. FO goes through overhead panel and “his” side of the glareshield.
Preflight Procedure – Captain is 4 pages long. Captain check his side of the cockpit and flight controls.
Both crewmembers check if the oxygen system is operational. When the test button is pressed – there is a noise of oxygen flowing through the valve.
Before start procedure
Before start procedure prepares the plane for start and flight. The crew finishes setting FMC (pilot flying will set his CDU to TAKEOFF REF page and pilot monitoring will set it to LEGS page), HDG (or Track) and the first altitude should be entered in MCP at this stage. LNAV and VNAV autopilot modes should be armed if the crew intends to use them on departure.
Then, after all doors are closed crew asks the ATC for startup or start and push clearance. Hydraulic systems are turned on. Stabilizer trim is set and beacon light is turned on.
Engine start in Boeing 777 is not that time consuming and it is usually done during pushback.
To start pushback you can use FMC MENU page. It offers some additional options over the default FSX pushback feature – you can configure distance, turn angle and turn direction. It is an interactive process so you need to listen to ground crew and react.
Engine start procedure
It is fascinating how easy it is to start Boeing 777’s engines. Preparations take tens of tasks and many pages of the manual and the actual engine start requires only six simple actions – including captain’s decision on which engine to start first and his command to start that engine. It is actually more complicated to start engine in some general aviation aircraft. Ok – so what is necessary?
- FO should turn the lower display to show engine data (in case it shows something different.
- Captain announces engine start sequence (in case of GE engines – they must be started one by one).
- Captain calls for engine start.
- FO turns starter selector to START.
- Captain switches FUEL CONTROL switch to RUN.
- Both crew members verify oil pressure increase.
At this point the crew moves back to point 3 and does the same for the second engine.
The plane is ready to taxi.