A 787 transmits about 28 MB of data per flight, compared to 1 MB for the 777, according to Per Noren, VP of information services for Boeing Commercial Aviation Services, so airlines need to know how use that data, as well as how to connect to the airplane and test it digitally with a maintenance laptop. The 787 also has 1,500 areas of the aircraft or components that are controlled by software, says Siegel. LAN spent $1 million on infrastructure related to information technology (IT) to handle this e-enabled aircraft.
LAN is testing wireless connectivity at terminals and has installed wireless routers at its Santiago base. If all goes well, it could expand this availability to other airports, he says.
Training was another part of the 787 working group. LAN sent four pilots to Boeing in mid-July to become check airmen. Eric Greenhill, director of flight training, says about 75% of the pilots who will fly the 787 are transitioning from the 767; others from the A340. LAN initially trained about 50 pilots but that number will increase as 787 deliveries ramp up. Approximately 100 flight attendants started training then in Seattle, and they too are transitioning from 767s and A340s. Greenhill says about 600 will receive 787 ground training at LAN's facility in Santiago in which it partners with CAE. Greenhill, who was a LAN pilot for 24 years before becoming a flight instructor, says: “We get lots of [training] credits or courses with Boeing,” but he did not specify how many.
While LAN's full-flight simulators are booked solid—about 36,000 hr. per year—Greenhill points to an empty bay. “We haven't negotiated a 787,” but it's on his wish list. “There's an 18-month lead time after signing,” he says. “We've been growing a lot—it is an exciting time.”
LAN has trained 100 maintenance personnel and chose to go beyond Boeing's composite training basics. “When we started, it was the highest risk area,” says Siegel, so LAN maintenance and engineering staff took many courses—and eventually created its own as a supplemental aid. “We learned more and worried less.” This generates awareness and ideally instills a solid understanding of ramp damage and its possible effects.
LAN also developed in-house training to reinforce specific IT-enabling requirements.
When ANA's initial 787 incurred damage the first week and was struck by lightning shortly after, it probably caused consternation for future 787 operators. In cases like that, “we need a fast response from Boeing. We have several level agreements in place,” and will see how Boeing responds, says Siegel. “Boeing's response rate is critical, and we think they're prepared.”
The service preparation team also coordinated with local authorities to address aircraft certification and training requirements and documentation.
Switching gears to the 30-month cabin configuration project team, this group started by defining the cabin layout and class distribution. It decided on 217 economy-class and 30 premium-business-class seats for the 787-8. It then negotiated with seat suppliers, after which it finalized the seat certification and design, says Siegel. “In this process, we also include the color and decor work of the cabin, as well as the inflight entertainment and the customized graphic interface we have developed for our passengers,” he adds. It chose the Panasonic EX2 inflight entertainment system.
Rajmin Hessin, LAN's brand identity director, revealed the textures and colors are distinctive of South America, and the cabin has more light.