MIAMI — As part of the ecoDemonstrator program, Boeing has begun several months of test flights with a 757-200 (cn 24627/293) in order to assess new technologies intended to improve the efficiency of flight operations, besides reducing environmental footprints.
In collaboration with the TUI Group and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), this series of flights comprise part of the multi-year effort to accelerate testing, refinement and application of innovative technologies and methods aimed at optimizing aviation´s environmental performance during every phase of flight.
“The ecoDemonstrator 757 furthers our commitment to accelerate innovative technologies for current and future airplane programs,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president of Product Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The Boeing ecoDemonstrator program is focused on putting new, more environmentally efficient technologies and airplanes in the hands of our customers sooner.”
“We are very pleased to partner with Boeing for the next phase of their ecoDemonstrator program, as TUI Group is highly committed to achieving further environmental efficiency across our whole business and remaining the industry leader on carbon efficiency with our airlines,” said Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainability, TUI Group.
At first sight, the ecoDemonstrator vehicle might look like an ordinary 757 passenger jetliner, but actually it is an advanced flying test bed. On its left wing, Boeing will evaluate technologies to reduce environmental effects on natural laminar flow as a way to improve aerodynamic efficiency, and in the right wing of the ecoDemonstrator, NASA will test bug-phobic coatings to reduce residues left by bug strikes on the leading edges on the leading edges of wings, hence enabling more drag-reducing laminar flow over the remainder of the wing.
Another technology tested by NASA under the Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) program is an active flow control on the vertical tail, conceived to improve airflow over the rudder and maximize its efficiency. Based on wind-tunnel testing, this novel control could improve the efficiency of the rudder by up to 20 percent, and may lead for smaller vertical tail designs in future aircraft.
With the exception of Boeing proprietary technology, the knowledge gained from ecoDemonstrator research will be publicly available to benefit the industry.
“Having a relevant test bed, like Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator, to help mature technology concepts is extremely important to NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project,” said Fay Collier, ERA project manager, NASA. “Our researchers have been working hard to develop technologies to reduce airplane fuel consumption, noise and emissions. Being able to prove those concepts in flight tests gives them a better shot of getting into the commercial fleet.”
It is expected that Boeing announces additional tests with the ecoDemonstrator 757 later this year. Once these flights are completed, the manufacturer will work with the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and Stifel’s aircraft finance division (the lessor of the airplane), to recycle the 757 using environmental best practices.