Boeing EcoDemonstrator begins flight testing


Boeing’s 2018 ecoDemonstrator flight test campaign has started, with a 777 Freighter carrying more than 35 different technologies taking off from Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, on March 5.

The ecoDemonstrator program flight tests prototypes of systems and equipment designed to improve the environmental performance and safety of future aircraft. The FedEx-owned 777 Freighter being used this year as a testbed was delivered in October 2017 and then returned to Boeing in January, to be fitted with instrumentation and the demonstration technologies.

The 777, nicknamed Hollie, flew on 100% biofuel. Flight testing will continue during April, before the aircraft is refurbished and returned to FedEx in June. The 35 technologies being tested include a compact thrust reverser designed to save fuel, flight-deck improvements to help make operations in and out of busy airports more efficient, and prototype aircraft parts made with manufacturing techniques that reduce materials waste.

Alain Sauret, president of Safran Electrical and Power, one of the companies participating in the program, said, “We are providing the Boeing ecoDemonstrator with an electric power source and a complete electrical channel. It is a prime example of our capabilities to design tomorrow’s optimized electrical systems and we are very proud to contribute to Boeing’s environmental efforts.”

The power source being flight tested is a variable-frequency geared generator, which has 60% less thermal losses and is 15% lighter than the existing generation system used on the Boeing 777. Safran is also testing more efficient power distribution and ventilation systems in the cabin.

The ecoDemonstrator program has run since 2011 and has so far used four different aircraft to test more than 60 technologies.

March 19, 2018

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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