Boeing reveals its newest flying test bed

July 02, 2019
Boeing flying test bed
Boeing's new 777-200, Eco Demonstrator, in Victorville, California. Photo: Boeing.

Boeing has revealed its newest ecoDemonstrator and says the Boeing 777 will serve as the 2019 flying test bed for 50 projects.

The 777-200 joins a growing list of aircraft to have taken part in the program started in 2012  to assess new technologies that could help airlines and passengers.

The list includes a 737-300, a 787-8 Dreamliner, an Embraer E170 and 777 Freighter that between them tested 112 technologies through to 2018.

“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 Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president strategy and future airplane development Mike Sinnett.

“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.”

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Included in this year’s ecoDemonstrator program are:

  • Technology that will share digital information between air traffic control, the flight deck and an airline’s operations center 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.
  • Cameras to provide more passengers with a view outside the airplane.

About a third of the 112 projects so far involved in the ecoDemonstrator program have been implemented and almost half remain in further development. Testing on the remainder was discontinued.

Among those now in use are iPad apps that provide real-time 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 aerospace giant shares the lessons it garners from the ecoDemonstrator with its partners and says more than a dozen are participating in the 2019 program.

This includes an industry consortium developing a connectivity standard for networked cabins of the future known as iCabin.

Flight tests will be conducted during the North American autumn and will include a trip to Frankfurt Airport in Germany, where the ecoDemonstrator’s technology mission will be presented to government officials, industry representatives and STEM students to help inspire the next generation in aerospace