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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 Tests 25 Eco-friendly Innovations

The Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 has begun flight testing more than 25 new technologies aimed at improving aviation's environmental performance through every phase of flight.

The program accelerates the testing, refinement and use of new technologies and methods that can improve efficiency and reduce noise. Boeing says this new round of testing, using 787 Dreamliner ZA004, will evaluate software and connectivity technologies related to operational efficiency; remote sensors to reduce wiring; aerodynamic and flight control improvements for greater fuel efficiency, and icephobic wing coatings to reduce ice accumulation.

Technologies being tested include:

  • NASA Airborne Spacing for Terminal Arrival Routes (ASTAR) to improve landing efficiency.
  • New greenhouse gas sensors evaluated in collaboration with Japan Airlines and others.
  • Real-time turbulence reports generated in collaboration with Delta Air Lines to mitigate moderate or greater turbulence events, resulting in improved flight efficiency and passenger comfort.
  • Instrument landing systems for new and older aircraft to optimize landings and reduce fuel use.
  • On-Board Wireless Sensor Network and Micro Electro Mechanical Systems microphones to reduce wiring and weight.
  • Outer wing access doors made from recycled 787 carbon fiber to reduce material costs and factory waste.

The ecoDemonstrator 787 completed flight tests in July for an acoustic ceramic matrix composite nozzle designed to reduce weight and noise, Boeing says. These tests were part of the FAA Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) Program, a competitively bid five-year program with costs shared by participants.

Earlier this year, Boeing, South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG announced a collaboration to make sustainable aviation biofuel from a new type of tobacco plant. This initiative builds on cooperation between Boeing and SAA to develop renewable jet fuel in ways that support South Africa's goals for public health as well as economic and rural development. The organizations say that, by using hybrid tobacco, they can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking.