Boeing starts ecoDemonstrator 757 flight testing of fuel-reducing technologies to improve aerodynamic efficiency
Boeing 757 ecoDemonstrator
Fri 20 Mar 2015 – Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme has moved into a new phase with flight testing of a 757 aircraft nearing the end of its operational life that focuses on improvements to aerodynamic efficiency. Over the next few months, Boeing will be collaborating with NASA and airline group TUI to evaluate new technologies that improve fuel and environmental performance. On the left wing of the 757, which has been supplied by TUI to Boeing for the programme, a Krueger shield has been installed that can protect the leading edge from insects and so reduce the adverse effect of the residues on natural laminar flow. Under a contract with NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project, bug-phobic coatings have been added to the leading edge of the right wing to enable more drag-reducing laminar flow over the remainder of the wing.
On the vertical tail, NASA and Boeing are testing active flow control to improve airflow over the rudder and maximise its aerodynamic efficiency. Boeing says that based on wind-tunnel testing, active flow control could improve the rudder’s efficiency by up to 20% and may allow for a smaller vertical tail design in the future.
“Having a relevant test bed like Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator to help mature technology concepts is extremely important to NASA’s ERA Project,” said the project’s manager Fay Collier. “Our researchers have been working hard to develop technologies to reduce airplane fuel consumption, noise and emissions. Being able to prove those concepts in flight tests gives them a better shot of getting into the commercial fleet.”
Later this year, Boeing indicated it would announce additional tests with the 757, after which it intends working with the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the lessor of the airplane to recycle it using environmental best practices.
“We are very pleased to partner with Boeing for the next phase of their ecoDemonstrator programme, as TUI Group is highly committed to achieving further environmental efficiency across our whole business and remaining the industry leader on carbon efficiency with our airline,” said Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainability for the Europe-based group, which includes six airlines.
Boeing said that since the launch of the programme in 2011, more than 40 technologies had been tested on a Next-Generation 737 and a 787 Dreamliner.
“The programme is focused on putting new, more environmentally efficient technologies and airplanes in the hands of our customers sooner,” said Mike Sinnett, VP Product Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.