Today, on day one of the virtual Farnborough Air Show, Boeing announced its latest ecoDemonstrator program. The Chicago-based manufacturer will use a 787-10 Dreamliner to run a series of tests looking at noise pollution, airflow, and new Air Traffic Control technology. After testing is complete, the jet will join Etihad’s fleet of Dreamliners. This latest announcement builds on the existing eco-partnership between Etihad and Boeing, which was announced in November 2019.
Testing the 787-10
This will be the first time a 787-10 has been used as a part of the ecoDemonstrator program. Boeing will work with several other partners, including NASA and Safran Landing Systems, to test new technology.
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The testing will begin in August. Over approximately four weeks, the jet will be examined to try to reduce noise pollution and adapt future aircraft designs for quieter operations. According to FlightGlobal, the plane will be fitted with 222 pressure sensors and over 1,000 microphones to examine its landing gear and noise signature.
Additionally, new software will be trialed, which will connect pilots to Air Traffic Control and Airline Operation Centers to optimize routes. If successful, the software could help minimize congestion over airports, reduce workload and radio traffic as well as improving efficiency. The technology will help map aircraft more accurately in four dimensions; latitude, longitude, altitude, and time.
All of the test flights will use a mixture of sustainable aviation fuel to minimize carbon emissions.
Etihad and Boeing’s partnership
Back in November 2019, Boeing and Etihad announced they were planning to collaborate to develop an “Ethiad Greenliner.” Etihad is the largest operator to the Dreamliner in the Middle East. According to a statement from Etihad, the announcement today will “leverage the Etihad Greenliner program as part of the broader Etihad-Boeing Strategic Partnership to test cutting-edge technologies and explore “blue sky” opportunities to improve airspace efficiency, reduce fuel use, and cut CO2 emissions.”
Despite Etihad’s enthusiasm to be a part of the program, the tests will not be as expansive this year due to financial pressure. It’s thought there will be several days of testing over the four weeks. The jet is due to fly from Boeing’s South Carolina assembly facility in the next few weeks. It will then remain in Montana until September for the testing process and will then return to South Carolina before heading to Etihad in late September.
The ecoDemonstrator program
Boeing launched its ecoDemonstrator program back in 2010, with the first test flights taking place in 2012. This new collaboration is the seventh. Previously, Boing collaborated with FedEx to test on a 777 Freighter, Embraer to test an E170, Stifel to test a 757 and American Airlines to test a 737-800. It has also tested several of its own aircraft, including a 777-200 and a 787-8.
The testing has varied over the years, and the program has now trialed over 165 technologies. Everything from winglets, wing coatings, wireless sensors to Vortex Generators, and turbulence detectors have been looked at. The program offers the unique opportunity of taking testing outside of a lab environment and into the field.
In a statement, Boeing said its ecoDemonstrator program helps drive sustainability by “testing promising technologies that can reduce emissions, help commercial aviation meet our climate goals, and allow the industry to grow in a responsible manner that respects our planet and its natural resources.”
Boeing is already planning its next collaborations for the program in 2021 and 2022, but it has not released any details.
What do you think of Boeing’s collaboration with Etihad? Have you flown on one of Etihad’s Dreamliners? We’d love to hear your thoughts.