Boeing Commercial, Boeing Test and Evaluation, 777-200, Eco Demonstrator, EcoD, WA249, Victorville California, KVCV, Paint

Boeing has launched its latest round of inflight testing, assessing new techniques that could provide solutions to issues faced by airlines and passengers. 

The 2019 flying testbed is based on a 777 and will be the frame which 50 new projects are tested on.

“This is the latest addition to our ecoDemonstrator program, where we look at how crew and passengers can have a better experience and how technologies can make flying safer, more efficient and more enjoyable,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president of product strategy and future airplane development at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

One of the more interesting tests being conducted by Boeing is the use of cameras to provide more passengers with a view outside the airplane. As something Airbus has done well with the A380, this could be seen as a catch-up move.

Boeing is also looking to improve the systems which allow digital information to be transmitted between air traffic control, the pilots, and an airline’s operations crew to optimize routing efficiency and safety.

An electronic flight bag application that uses next-generation communications to automatically provide rerouting information to pilots when weather conditions warrant.

Connected cabin technologies that make galleys and lavatories smart, and monitor cabin conditions such as temperature and humidity to facilitate automatic adjustments for maximum cabin comfort.

The 777 is the fifth aircraft to be used in the ecoDemonstrator program, with a 737-800, 787-8, 757, Embraer E170 and 777 Freighter all being used previously. 

Sinnet continued to say that “using the 777 flying test bed lets us learn faster and move forward on improvements much quicker and with greater fidelity in defining their value.”

In 2018 alone, 112 technologies were tested as part of the program. Nearly half of the projects remain in further development, whilst over a third of the projects have moved into the implementation phase, either with Boeing or with a program partner.  The remaining projects were canceled as a result of the lessons learned.

One of the technologies developed in the program that Boeing is keen to point out is an application that runs on an iPad that feeds information to pilots in real time to help reduces fuel use and therefore the emissions that emitted. 

To continue their research on the subject, the majority of the test flights will be operated with sustainable aircraft fuels, to demonstrate the suitability of the fuels, and reduce emissions.

Boeing also actively work with industry partners to test technologies with the greater aim to advance aviation.  One of the notable partners that Boeing works with is a consortium of companies developing a standard for networked cabins, to be known as ‘iCabin’.

Included in the testing program, which starts in the Autumn, is a trip to Frankfurt airport. The technologies will be presented to government and industry representatives. STEM students will also be shown the technologies, with the aim of inspiring the next generation to enter the Aerospace industry.