Boeing Begins Flight Testing Etihad’s 787 ecoDemonstrator

Boeing has begun flight testing its latest ecoDemonstrator, a Boeing 787-10 destined to be delivered to Etihad Airways. The aircraft is equipped with heaps of sensors that will allow it to test various methods of making aviation more sustainable and less noisy in the future.

Etihad Airways, Boeing 787-10, ecoDemonstrator
Etihad will take delivery of its new Boeing 787-10 in late September. Photo: Etihad Airways

The Boeing ecoDemonstrator program is nothing new. In fact, since 2012, several aircraft have been part of the program, starting with an American Airlines Boeing 737-800. Since then, the program has moved on to include widebody aircraft such as the Boeing 777. Now, the Boeing 787-10 is joining the program ahead of its delivery to Etihad Airways next month.

Montana aircraft testing

The Boeing 787-10 to join the ecoDemonstrator program is currently undergoing a full series of tests before being delivered to Etihad. So far, the aircraft has undergone one test flight in Seattle from Boeing Field, while the other flights have been taking place at Boeing’s Glasgow site in Montana.

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The test flights are being carried out with a unique blend of fuel. This consists of 50% biofuel and 50% regular aviation fuel. All in all, around ten days of test flying are planned for the aircraft in Glasgow. Following these test flights, the aircraft will be delivered to Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi towards the end of September.

Etihad Airways, Boeing 787-10, ecoDemonstrator
The aircraft has been completing multiple test flights in the North West of the United States. Photo:

Commenting on the initiative, Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad’s Cheif Operating Officer said,

“We at Etihad are committed to sustainable development in aviation in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the UAE and we believe addressing aviation’s emissions is a challenge for the industry. As a prime example of industry collaboration towards sustainable aviation and innovation, the ecoDemonstrator programme is a unique opportunity to lead the aviation industry’s drive for a sustainable future.”

About the ecoDemonstrator

At first glance, the ecoDemonstrator Boeing 787-10 may look like any other Dreamliner. However, this is not the case. The aircraft has been modified with thousands of extra sensors to see if the changes being trialed are achieving their intended goal. A portion of the cabin has been replaced with measurement equipment.

For starters, some 1,200 microphones have been placed on the aircraft’s fuselage. They aim to help develop ways for pilots to reduce noise, and to inform future quiet aircraft designs. Tied in with this, Safran is testing a new landing gear modification, designed to reduce noise caused by the additional drag on approach.

Etihad Airways, Greenliner, Dublin, St Patrick's Day
Earlier this year, Etihad also launched the Greenliner. Photo: Etihad Airways

Meanwhile, the program has also taken on an additional role due to the current situation affecting the aviation industry. Yesterday Simple Flying reported that Boeing was trialing an ultraviolet wand to disinfect aircraft. This will also be in use onboard the 787-10 ecoDemonstrator for the foreseeable future as its use is evaluated.

What do you make of Boeing’s 787-10 ecoDemonstrator? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!