|757 aircraft used as testbed in 2015|
|Project for||Improved fuel economy and ecological footprint|
|Predecessor programs||Quiet Technology Demonstrator|
The ecoDemonstrator Program is a flight test research program of aircraft company Boeing, which has used a series of specially modified aircraft to develop and test aviation technologies designed to improve fuel economy and reduce the noise and ecological footprint of airliners. From 2012 through 2018, the five airplanes involved have tested 112 technologies: half remain in further development and a third are being implemented like iPad apps for pilot real-time information to reduce fuel use and emissions; custom approach paths to reduce community noise; and 777X cameras for ground navigation.
The ecoDemonstrator Program followed Boeing's Quiet Technology Demonstrator program, which operated between 2001 and 2005 to develop a quieter engine using chevrons on the rear of the nacelle and exhaust nozzles. These chevrons were later adopted on the 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
The ecoDemonstrator Program was formally launched in 2011, in partnership with American Airlines and the FAA. As of December 2015[update], the ecoDemonstrator program has used three aircraft as testbeds. The first, a 737-800 owned by American Airlines, was used in 2012 to test over 15 technologies. The second aircraft, a company-owned 787-8 Dreamliner, was used to test over 25 technologies. In 2015, a 757 was used to test over 15 technologies, in cooperation with NASA and the TUI Group.
2012: Boeing 737
- Active engine vibration control
- Blended biofuel
- Optimized flight trajectories
- Regenerative hydrogen fuel cells
- A variable-area fan nozzle
- Carpeting made from recycled materials
2014: Boeing 787
Boeing began testing in mid-2014 using a company-owned 787-8 Dreamliner (variable number ZA004, tail number N7874), in partnership with the FAA's Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program, NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project, and commercial partners including Japan Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, General Electric, and Panasonic. Tested technologies included:
- A ceramic matrix composite engine nozzle, allowing a higher engine temperature
- Fuel containing 15% green diesel and 85% petroleum-derived jet fuel
- Improvements to aerodynamics and flight controls
- Anti-icing wing coatings
- Touchscreen displays in the flight deck
- Carbon fiber outer wing access doors
- Wireless sensors to reduce wiring weight
- NASA's Airborne Spacing for Terminal Arrival Routes (ASTAR) system, intended to allow increased landing frequencies
- Other software and network technologies to optimize flight planning and fuel loading
2015: Boeing 757
The third aircraft in the ecoDemonstrator Program, a 757-222 (tail number N757ET) owned by Stifel's aircraft finance division, began flights in March 2015. The aircraft was painted in the livery of the TUI Group, which collaborated on the program. Tested technologies included:
- Technologies to improve laminar flow, including a "Krueger shield" to protect the leading edges of the wings from insects
- Active flow control on the vertical tail (tested with NASA under contract for NASA's ERA Project). NASA wind tunnel testing suggest that active flow control could provide a 17% improvement in rudder efficiency, allowing for smaller tails.
- Insect-resistant wing coatings to improve laminar flow (tested with NASA under contract for NASA's ERA Project). For this testing, the aircraft was operated from Shreveport Regional Airport, which was selected for its high insect population, among other factors.
- Solar and thermal energy collecting systems, used to power dimmable cabin windows
2016: Embraer E170
- LIDAR technology to increase air data reliability by complementing current sensors
- An ice phobic paint with low adhesive property, preventing accumulation of dirt and insects, and saving water by reducing aircraft washing
- Special sensors and air visualization techniques to better understand aerodynamics to improve fuel efficiency through new wing designs
- A Brazilian-sourced biofuel blend made up of 10 percent bio-kerosene and 90 percent fossil kerosene
2018: Boeing 777F
In early 2018, a compact thrust reverser for very-high-bypass ratio engines with large fans will test nacelle weight and drag reduction aboard a Boeing 777F. It will also test a JAXA Doppler LIDAR detector for clear-air turbulence, an experimental precision approach synthetic instrument landing system (SILS) generating ILS-like guidance from SBAS for older aircraft and the ACAS X for NextGen replacement for the TCAS using ADS-B.
The program was completed in 2018:
- the compact thrust reverser with a conic monolithic structure reduced duct pressure losses, to save up to 1.5% of fuel towards shorter nacelles;
- thermoplastic blocker doors in the thrust reverser lowered noise;
- 100% paraffinic biofuel could improve specific fuel consumption by 3-4% with lower engine maintenance and smoke levels, for a reduction in greenhouse gases up to 80%;
- after the MH370 disappearance, position and flight recorder data were streamed through Iridium Communications;
- optical and radar sensors detects ground obstacles to avoid collisions;
- the heat shield above the jet nozzle was made from recycled titanium to reduce waste and cost;
- CFD are calibrated with boundary layer sensors on the rear fuselage;
- a lidar could replace the engine air Temperature sensors.
2019: Boeing 777
- to optimize routing efficiency and safety: sharing digital information between air traffic control, the flight deck and an airline's operations center;
- to provide rerouting information: a connected electronic flight bag application;
- Connected galleys, lavatories, and cabin temperature and humidity sensors;
- Cameras for an outside view for passengers.
By 2021, autonomous operations and hybrid electric aircraft propulsion will be tested on a small regional airplane, to be developed with Boeing HorizonX ventures arm and JetBlue Airways-backed startup Zunum Aero, based in Kirkland, Washington. The initial 19-passenger design is optimized for a 700 nmi (1,300 km) range, increasing to 1,000 nmi (1,900 km) by 2030 as electric technology advances. For shorter ranges, batteries alone will suffice, to be swapped or fast charged at airports for fast turnarounds. Targeting 40-80% lower operating costs than current regional airliners and an early 2020s introduction, it would be the first of a 10-50-seat aircraft family.
- "Boeing Takes New Technologies Out of the Lab and Onto ecoDemonstrator Flying Test Bed" (Press release). Boeing. July 1, 2019.
- Kowal, Jessica; Jensen, Bret (December 2015). "Backgrounder: The Boeing ecoDemonstrator Program" (PDF). Boeing. Retrieved 16 June 2016.[permanent dead link]
- Uresh, "787 Production and Disposition" (Google Docs spreadsheet), All Things 787, retrieved 16 June 2016
- "N7874 Boeing Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner - cn 40693 / 4". Planespotters.net. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "N757ET Boeing Boeing 757-222 - cn 24627 / 263". Planespotters.net. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- Barnstorff, Kathy (April 2, 2015). "NASA Tests Green Aviation Technology on Boeing ecoDemonstrator". NASA. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- Gates, Dominic (September 2, 2015). "Boeing 757 chewed up, smashed for recycling". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "Boeing selects E170 as next ecoDemonstrator". FlightGlobal.com. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
- "Boeing, Embraer Unveil Newest ecoDemonstrator Aircraft". Boeing.com. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
- Guy Norris (Jun 9, 2017). "Next Up For EcoDemonstrator Program: NMA Technology". Aviation Week & Space Technology.
- Guy Norris (Mar 13, 2018). "Boeing Begins 777 EcoDemonstrator Flight Tests". Aviation Week & Space Technology.
- Guy Norris (Dec 14, 2018). "Boeing To Speed Up EcoDemonstrator Effort After Boost From 777F Tests". and "An Inside Look At Boeing's 777F EcoDemonstrator". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Dec 19, 2018.