How Pilots Prepare For The Boeing 787

“What’s in a name?” – that was my first thought. As a pilot, I’m not particularly interested in the name of an aircraft. Instead, I tend to focus on its looks and handling. I am one of the pilots involved in the introduction of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner at KLM. This is how we are preparing for the arrival of this new aircraft.

The introduction of a new aircraft to the fleet is a big thrill to everyone at KLM. It confirms that we have faith in the future of our airline and that we will be working with the very latest technology, allowing us to offer our customers a cutting-edge product. But in order to take a new aircraft into operation, we need to prepare extensively.

Bouke Rypma
Bouke Rypma (pilot B787), Rudi van Berkel (senior instructor) and Harold van den Pol (training manager B777/787)

Training for the B787

One of the unique aspects of the Dreamliner is that we will be operating it with the same accreditation we have for the B777. Traditionally, commercial pilots are only allowed to fly one type of plane. Transferring to another type usually requires several months’ training. The cockpit of the B787 and B777 are so similar, however, that we are allowed to fly both. KLM will be the first airline in the world to utilise this option on a grand scale.

However, pilots will still have to do additional training. That means consulting the manuals to gain insight into new systems and technology aboard the Dreamliner, and of course simulator training to get a grip on the aircraft’s operating features. At present, only experienced B777 pilots are being trained to fly the new B787. This additional training lasts just over a week, which is followed by two supervised flights aboard the actual aircraft.

Almost real

Since February, KLM has had its own Boeing 787 simulator at the training centre at Schiphol-Oost. You may be surprised to hear that this simulator is not made by Boeing, but by Thales, which supplies the rather unique technology. Because the Dreamliner is a lot like a flying server, packed with computer technology, it is relatively easy to simulate flight behaviour. And because the visual systems are developing fast, the experience aboard a simulator is almost real.

Boeing 787
Credit: RTV NH | Doron Sajet

The preparatory training for B777 pilots consists of a several days’ theory training (self-study followed by an exam) and four 3.5-hour sessions in the simulator with an instructor. During these sessions, pilots practice the most critical manoeuvres, including engine failure at take-off, loss of cabin pressure at high altitude, and piloting the aircraft in extreme weather conditions.

Flight data are projected on the window

The most striking new feature for pilots is the so-called Head-Up Display (HUD), which projects the key cockpit instruments on the window, enabling pilots to monitor their instruments as they survey the scene outside. This is especially handy during take-off and landing, compared to previous display systems.


Around 90 pilots have already completed their B787 training and are eager to put their new training into practice in the near future. To keep their skills in shape, they will regularly undergo refresher courses until the real Dreamliners arrive.

Training flight with a competitor

I was also one of a group of pilots who were given a chance to fly a B787 owned by our competitor TUIFLY. This was arranged because KLM needs a number of pilots with experience to operate the first B787 flights. It is remarkable to see pilots extending a helping hand to one another when it comes to safety and operations, despite the fact that they serve competing airlines.

KLM_simulator4_credit_RTV NH_Doron Sajet

Apart from getting an opportunity to “feel” and operate the actual aircraft, our colleagues at TUI also briefed us on their own experiences with the B787. We can use those experiences to guide our own training. We completed the flight without the uniform jacket and cap, but we were wearing the TUI uniform tie and stripes, so that no one realised there were “strangers” on board.

What a wonderful experience! Anyone who has flown aboard a Dreamliner will tell you it really is a “dream” compared to the previous generation of aircraft – so quiet, pleasant and comfortable. On top of that, the view through the bigger windows is spectacular, in the cockpit as well as the cabin. This new feature is made possible by the use of composite materials, which are stronger than aluminium, in constructing the fuselage.

Fetching the Dreamliner

And now I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I can head off to Seattle with the KLM acceptance team, who will bring the first Dreamliner home (scheduled for Saturday, 14 November). The acceptance team consists of colleagues from various departments, who have played a part in the Dreamliner’s delivery process. Our technical pilots, Captain Frank Hofstra and First Officer Wido de Wilde, will first conduct comprehensive tests to see if the aircraft meets specifications, before the official transfer takes place.

Boeing 787

After that, I’ll join the captain and first officer in flying our first Dreamliner back to Amsterdam, where many colleagues and flight aficionados will be awaiting our arrival. This new plane really gives us faith in our operational future.

Click here for more information about our Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Posted by:   Bouke Rypma  | 
Join the conversation Show comments


Wow. I can’t wait for this to be in service.

Very good blog. I bet you are excited for this to come in to service. Can you fly the 787 under a common type license?

Bouke rypma

Thanks for your positive reaction! Indeed we can fly the 787 on a common type-rating with the B777.
Regards Bouke Rypma

desmond chiang

What a way to train your pilots for the arrival of the actual B787. Am sure hopefully I get to fly this B787 on one of your kL flight when I visit my daughter over at Holland.

helma i zindel

sorry got to fly now…………… call me when i am back………. very friendly regards helma i zindel


On wich destinations will they fly? Every three years i am flying to nairobi with your 747! Your partner kenya airways already flies these route with an 787.

Bouke rypma

We will start to the Middle East ( Bahrein and Abu Dhabi) and thereafter to various destinations in China, Africa, and South-America. Nairobi will still be serviced by our good-old Classic B747.


I’m shoeckd that I found this info so easily.

Paul Kuhne

Ik niet wachten om er mee te vliegen. Ziet er mooi uit !

Joseph B. Cassidy, III

I liked the way you used the term, ‘strangers’. But seriously, this new plane will be a huge step forward on several levels, including fuel efficiency. Technology is good, but only if means that it won’t compromise safety, so I’m hoping that is foremost on priorities. Gimmicks are good, but getting to my destination in one piece is what I would like, and anything that negates from that, we can all do without.

Bouke rypma

You are completely right! Safety is and will remain our prime focus. Every aspect of the new B787 has been evaluated from a safety point of view. Myself and many colleagues with different expertise relevant to the operation of aircraft have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to make sure nothing is overlooked. You can count on us for that as you undoubtfully have done in the past and present.

Fred kloet

Destinations please!!!!!!!!! San Jose, Panama?

Bouke rypma

No B787 to those destinations in the (very) near future.

Artemio C

I like to know how klm prepare maintenance personal to keep in God shape this magnificent aircraft and also how long take

Bouke rypma

Our maintenance staff goes through extensive training programs to get qualified for working on a new type of airplane. Compared to older types of aircraft the Dreamliner requires a lot less maintenance. This is one of the many aspects that make this aircraft interesting for the company.


Is the simulator by Thalys or by Thales?

Eline van der Haar

Hi Robbert,

The name is Thales and not Thalys indeed, so we changed it in the text. Thanks for your comment!

Kind regards, Eline

Nanno Kuiper

It’s actually L-3 since Thales UK is only doing military sims nowadays…


Magnificent blog. I hope to fly with that KLM Dreamliner.

Wow i would love to take my wife to Hungary next year with KLM from Cape Town… Just so much wish i could afford to be in First Class :( would love to experience the 787… must be a awesome addition to the magnificent fleet already

Bouke rypma

You might be lucky…. Cape Town is on the list for possible service by our B787 next summer.


groot kompliment voor dit ‘blog’.
Waar blijft de cabine en m.n. de cabinebemanning in dit event? Juist de cabine zal veel pax. interesseren?

Edna Sabio

Dreamliner is a very tough job but challenging and rewarding as well ! Hoping and dreaming I can go come aboard this full-equipped aircraft one day !!! Thanks for sharing it with us and happy flying to the new 787 ✈❗


Beste Bauke and 787 intro team,
Enjoy the introduction. It is hard work but so good to be part of it.
Be proud like we did with the 330!

Take and many happy flights and landings

Paul cunningham

Have they sorted out the over heating battery’s? I was on a kenya airways flight to Africa and walked to the back gents. Just with my socks, the heat from the floor was unreal and it worried me all the way to Africa

Margretha van Dodewaard

Complimenten voor je blog, Bauke! Leuk om te lezen hoe de vliegers zich voorbereiden op de Dreamliner.

penelope burreci

The 787 looks so sleek and beautiful, so good to hear comments from those about to fly it
on its maiden voyage and future flights. Very impressed with the extensive shelving for spare
parts and equipment in the hangars which reminds me, I must get my pantry more organised!!!
Well done KLM yet again, very best wishes for the future of the 787.


I am consultant from India I send students for pilot training

7 students of mine looking for b787 type rating according indian dgca please provide us with price they don’t require mcc and j

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