The U.S. frame maker is conducting flight tests to showcase how an improved coordination of flight navigation across global airspace jurisdictions can improve operational efficiency. If successful, it can reduce an airplane's fuel burn and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10%. Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator flight-test program can be a contributor to achieving improved sustainability and safety targets.
Boeing has recently suffered a number of painful blows, with the B737 MAX disaster being by far the most significant setback. This is coupled with a series of engine failures or hydraulic issues
with B767-300s (JAL, Delta, UPS, Latam Cargo, Austrian Airlines, among others), and economic hardships of its commercial aviation division, lately evidenced by a core operating loss of USD 440
milion in Q1, 2023.
That said, the Group urgently needs positive messages to get out of the constant loop of negative headlines. The expansion of its ecoDemonstrator flight-test program by operating so called “Explorer” aircraft, could be one such encouraging sign.
The company today announced its 2023 plan to assess 19 technologies on the Boeing 777 ecoDemonstrator, while also adding "Explorer" airplanes that will focus tests on specific technologies.
The first “Explorer”, a B787-10 Dreamliner, will conduct flight tests in JUN23 from Seattle to Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok, to demonstrate how coordinating navigation across global airspace jurisdictions can lower fuel burn and hence CO2 emissions. By utilizing today's onboard capabilities, Boeing and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) in the U.S., Japan, Singapore, and Thailand, will collectively sequence the airplane's routes to achieve the optimal flight path across multiple regions, factoring in conditions such as weather, air traffic, and airspace closures. The airplane will fly on the highest available blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at each location, announces Boeing. “We continue to invest in innovation that reduces fuel use, emissions and noise on our products, and to partner with governments and industry to make progress on sustainability during each phase of flight,” argues Stan Deal, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Putting 19 new technologies under the microscope
In addition to the B787, a B777-200ER (Extended Range) is also part of the “Explorer” mission and will be deployed during the course of this year. This Boeing variant will be used to test 19 technologies which include:
Sustainable wall panels in the cargo hold that are made of 40% recycled carbon fiber and 60% resin made from a bio-based feedstock;
A fiber optic fuel quantity sensor compatible with 100% SAF;
An Electronic Flight Bag application featuring Smart Airport Maps, a component of Jeppesen FliteDeck Pro, which reduces operational costs and supports safe taxi operations with the depiction of contextual airport data.
The aircraft manufacturer emphasizes that all flight tests will be operated with the locally available highest blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
The program was started more than a decade ago
“The industry will need continued fleet renewal, efficiency gains, and renewable energy carriers such as sustainable aviation fuel and advanced technology to meet the civil aviation industry's commitment,” said Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Raymond. The manager went on to say: “Our initial Explorer testing in partnership with aviation stakeholders in four countries, is a great example of how we can work together to optimize operational efficiency and reduce emissions.”
Boeing kicked off its ecoDemonstrator program already in 2012. It is aimed at accelerating innovation and checking new concepts by taking promising technologies out of the lab and testing them under real conditions. Including the 2023 plan, the program will have tested about 250 technologies to help decarbonize aviation, improve operational efficiency, and enhance safety and the passenger and cargo experience. So far, roughly a third of tested technologies have progressed onto Boeing's products and services rendered to customers.
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