Bringing on the new is familiar ground for this captain of the fleet
Author A. Averyl Re
FOR CAPTAIN DAVE LUNDY, service has been an overriding focus of his career. Starting immediately after college, he flew active duty in the military, spending 28 years serving in the U.S. Air Force before transitioning to commercial jets.
Now Lundy is engaged in service of a different kind: He leads the team putting together the flight operations and pilot training requirements to bring the Boeing 787 Dreamliner into the United fleet.
“Everyone should be married once, and everyone should be part of a team that brings on a fleet type once,” Lundy says. He married his “amazing” wife, Cindy, some three decades ago; as for the second endeavor—well, he hasn’t been quite as successful limiting himself to just one. Before taking on the plane he calls the “Starship Enterprise,” Lundy shepherded the inductions of the 757 and the 777.
“The 757 was a piece of cake; the 777 was more complicated,” he recalls. “And the 787 takes twice if not three times more effort than the 777. There are significant design and system changes, along with a very sophisticated electrical architecture. Although it does have a common type rating, it’s a vastly different airplane.”
“Induction” means developing the aircraft operating manuals and specifications, training programs and other resources needed to ensure that United pilots are well prepared to step into the flight deck of the new fleet.
For the 787, this intricate planning began seven years ago. Then two years ago Lundy, six other cadre check airmen and two ground instructors went to Boeing to train and learn about the new aircraft, which the manufacturer was still developing.
Lundy is one of the first four pilots outside Boeing to be type-certified on the 787. He and the others based United’s training on Boeing’s, but made significant changes to better prepare pilots for the job ahead.
For example, Lundy championed putting heads-up displays (HUDs) in all of United’s flight-training devices. The HUD’s glass screen superimposes instrument data in front of the windshield, within the pilot’s field of vision. “It provides information without your having to look down at traditional displays,” Lundy says. “It enables a much more efficient instrument scan at the same time you look at the far end of the runway.”
Lundy and others worked with HUDs in the military, but the technology is new to United jets. For that reason, Lundy felt pilots needed to become comfortable with it from the very beginning of training.
“Waiting to provide real HUD training to 787 pilots until they hit the full flight simulator or even the airplane itself is like trying to add ingredients to a cake after it has been baked,” he says. “It just doesn’t work.”
Thanks to Lundy, United is the first airline to put HUDs in flight-training devices. His attention to such details makes him a natural choice when the airline needs to bring on a new fleet type.
Through the efforts of Lundy and his team, United will have several hundred pilots certified on the 787. But beyond training others, Lundy is excited to be flying the new aircraft himself. “I began my airline career flying Convair 580s, and I’ll wrap it up flying the plane that sets the standard for safety, efficiency and passenger comfort for the next decade or more,” he says. “Sure, we had to wait for it. But it’s worth the wait.”
When Lundy talks about the 787, he marvels at its 20 percent higher fuel efficiency when compared with current operating aircraft, and its 30 percent reduction in maintenance and direct operating costs. Those efficiencies open up new possibilities for customers, such as additional nonstop markets.
Lundy and his colleagues began flying the 787 domestically Nov. 4. The successful induction marks yet one more achievement in Lundy’s 43-year career—more than four decades of exemplary service from just the sort of man needed to captain the “Starship Enterprise.”