777-200 becomes next ecoDemonstrator

A Boeing 777-200 is the sixth ecoDemonstrator testbed following on from a 737-800, 787-8, 757, an Embraer E170 and a 777F. Boeing

Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator continues, the company recently announcing a 777-200 as the next testbed trialling technologies in the ongoing programme to assess new ways of tackling aviation industry challenges including efficiency, safety and the flying experience.

The 777-200 that will serve as the 2019 ecoDemonstrator will test around 50 projects in flights this autumn, with the testing campaign including a trip to Frankfurt, where the ecoDemonstrator’s technology mission will be presented to government officials, industry representatives and STEM students. The specific 777-200 involved in the 2019 trials is believed to be a former Air China aircraft.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes says the ecoDemonstrator enables the company to test new technologies more quickly and thereby move faster introducing them to in-service aircraft or putting them into new aircraft development programmes.

This year’s tests will include how better to share digital information between air traffic control, the flight deck and an airline’s operations centre to optimise routing efficiency and safety. Also part of the testing are an electronic flight bag application that uses next-generation communications to provide rerouting information to pilots automatically when weather conditions change, and cameras to provide more passengers with a view outside the aircraft.

Another technology under test will be a connectivity standard for networked cabins called iCabin that Boeing says, “makes galleys and lavatories smart and monitors cabin conditions such as temperature and humidity to facilitate automatic adjustments”. Most test flights will fly on sustainable aviation fuel to reduce emissions and demonstrate the fuel’s viability.

Since Boeing launched the ecoDemonstrator in 2012 five aircraft have tested 112 technologies, of which more than a third, the company says, “have transitioned to implementation”. Nearly half remain in further development; tests on the remainder were discontinued.

Among technologies now in use are: iPad apps that provide realtime information to pilots, enabling them to reduce fuel use and emissions; custom approach path information to reduce community noise; and a camera system on the 777X that will help pilots avoid ground obstacles. The latter was tested in the previous edition of the ecoDemonstrator early in 2018 involving the 777F. Mark Broadbent