Boeing has added another aircraft type to its 10 year-long ecoDemonstrator evaluation programme, reports Marcelle Nethersole from Seattle.

The manufacturer unveiled its 2022 ecoDemonstrator at its Seattle facility last week – a 777-200ER, with a livery that promotes testing to reduce fuel use, emissions and noise.

The aircraft has been converted into a flying testbed for 30 new technologies in the latest campaign.

The former Singapore Airlines and New Zealand Airways-operated 777 is the ninth aircraft to be used for the ecoDemonstrator initiative, which began in 2012.

New technologies

This latest ecoDemonstrator will test its 30 new technologies aimed at improving sustainability and safety for the aerospace industry, including a water conservation system and technologies to improve operational efficiency.

The newest ecoDemonstrator aircraft is a 777-200 that was used as a commercial airplane for Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and most recently Surinam Airways

“Boeing is committed to support our customers and enable the commercial aviation industry to meet our shared commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO.

“The ecoDemonstrator programme’s rigorous testing of new technologies further enhances the environmental performance of our products and services and is invaluable to continuously improving safety.”

Technologies to be evaluated over an initial six-month-long flight-test programme on the 777-200ER include several all-new features as well as the latest evolutions of technologies tested on earlier campaigns. The latter includes an actively actuated set of vortex generators developed with NASA under the SMART (shape memory alloy reconfigurable technology) programme, which builds on work performed during the 2019 test programme.

Safety and sustainability

“The testing that we’re doing on this 2022 ecoDemonstrator centres primarily around safety and sustainability,” said Sinnett. “Through this process we have matured a number of technologies and tested over 230 of them. The whole idea is to figure out which things we want to continue developing so that they show up on an aircraft— which things we want to continue working on.”

The interior of the newest ecoDemonstrator aircraft remains empty as it is being readied for experimental equipment and technologies

Since its initial flights in 2012, the Boeing ecoDemonstrator programme has accelerated innovation by taking new technologies out of the lab and testing them in an operational environment. Including this year’s platform, the programme has tested about 230 technologies to help decarbonise aviation, improve operational efficiency
and enhance safety and the passenger experience.

Approximately a third of tested technologies have progressed onto Boeing’s products and services. Other technologies include a more advanced version of a head-mounted portable enhanced vision system (EVS)—a version of which was also initially tested in 2019.

Head-up display and water recycling

Developed by Universal Avionics, the SkyLens head-up display (HUD) system integrates aircraft data with imagery from a nose-mounted camera.

The cockpit of the newest ecoDemonstrator aircraft still looks much like a traditional 777 flight deck but soon it will be retrofitted with experimental equipment and technologies

The EVS system is designed to provide improved situational awareness to the flight crew, particularly in low-visibility conditions, while saving the weight and complexity associated with
conventional cockpit-mounted HUDs.

Also to be tested on the 777-200ER is a “grey” water recycling system that collects and filters washbasin water for later use in flushing lavatories.

Developed by Diehl Aviation, Boeing said the system has the potential to save more than 400 lb. of weight per flight.

The aircraft will also continue a long campaign of testing new fire extinguishing agents intended to replace Halon 1301, which is no longer being produced.

The programme will also test several technologies aimed at improving operational efficiency including a system developed using Jeppesen airport maps that will enable single-engine taxi operations.

In partnership with Collins Aerospace, Boeing is also testing a new air chiller which uses an environmentally preferred refrigerant.

*All photos credited to The Seattle Times

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