The Boeing Company has recently made the decision to integrate an interface with multi-touch capabilities on the flight deck of the re-engined 777X widebody aircraft which is scheduled to enter into service in 2020. Future airline pilots on the Boeing 777X will have the opportunity to interact with their flight information displays in a similar way that they use their tablets and smart phones. This multi-touch interface will be replacing a touch-pad based cursor control device, or CCDs, which is mounted on the aisle-stand of the original 777 aircraft. The Boeing Company has not yet announced the supplier for these multi-touch interfaces.
This new technology will be implemented on to the 787’s five-display format in the 777X as Boeing transitions from a standard layout consisting of six displays in the 777 cockpit.
“We think we’re the first [commercial] airplane to really make something that is like all our customers are used to doing in their daily lives,” said the general manager and vice-president of the 777X program, Bob Feldmann.
In the past, the Boeing Company had previously proposed a touch screen display for use on the United States Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as an upgrade, though not for commercial airliners. Multi-touch interfaces have been growing in popularity among consumer electronics for multiple years. These interfaces allow its users to use their fingers in order to make commands such as pinch-to-zoom or other gesture-based features. While airline pilots currently have access to touch screens on tablet-based electronic flight bags, the flight and navigation information displays on even the most modern and newest aircraft types are still controlled by bevel switches or CCDs.
“They all want to go forward to a future with what they use to control their iPhone, their iPad they have that kind of capability — meaning touch capability — in the crew station of the airplane,” added Feldmann.
“The next milestone for the 777-9 development program is a critical design review scheduled earlier next year,” reported Stephen Trimble from Flight Global. “Production of the first test aircraft is expected to begin next June, with first flight following in 2018.”
“All the configuring is done to a very detailed level. We know exactly what this airplane is and in fact we have very detailed discussions with our customers and with our suppliers,” Feldmann said.