Boeing partners with Embraer in next phase of ecoDemonstrator test programme
Embraer conducted a series of biofuel test flights in 2011
Thu 14 July 2016 – The next phase of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator environmental test programme will involve an Embraer 170, the first time a non-Boeing aircraft has been used. It will test a variety of new technologies intended to boost fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions and noise, and flights will also be powered by a Brazilian-produced biofuel blend. The E170 will serve as the flying testbed and will undergo operational testing in Brazil during August and September. Technologies that will be employed include LIDAR, ‘ice phobic’ aircraft paint, a new wing design to reduce noise and special sensors to better understand in-flight aerodynamics. The collaboration marks another step in the relationship between the two aircraft manufacturers that began in 2012 when they signed a cooperation agreement. Meanwhile, Boeing has increased its projection for new aircraft demand to 39,620 deliveries over the next 20 years.
“As industry leaders, we have a unique opportunity to invest in technologies that encourage our industry’s long-term, sustainable development, while supporting our customers’ environmental goals,” commented Boeing’s Chief Technology Officer, John Tracy, on the latest ecoDemonstrator.
LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) uses lasers to measure air data parameters such as true airspeed, angle of attack and outside air temperature. The technology shows potential to increase air data reliability by complementing current sensors that Boeing says could lead to further innovations to improve fuel efficiency. The ‘ice phobic’ paint is designed to reduce icing and help prevent build-up of dirt and bugs due to its low adhesive property, and also helping operators save water by reducing the need for frequent aircraft washing.
A new wing design with improved slats that could reduce noise on take-off and approach will be tested, as will special sensors and air visualisation techniques near the wing surface to better understand in-flight aerodynamics that could lead to further innovations in wing design to improve fuel efficiency.
Following the opening by Boeing and Embraer of a new joint biofuel research centre in São José dos Campos last year, the ecoDemonstrator flights will use a locally-produced jet fuel blend made up of 10% bio-kerosene and 90% conventional fossil kerosene.
The latest test programme will illustrate continued investments to improve fuel efficiency and environmental performance in order to meet the new carbon emissions standard announced by ICAO earlier this year, say the two manufacturers.
Meanwhile, Boeing’s latest 20-year Current Market Outlook predicts demand for 39,620 new commercial aircraft worth $5.9 trillion over the period, an increase of 4.1% over last year’s forecast, as a result of a 4.8% annual growth in passenger traffic. The Asia market, led by China, will take around 38% of global total deliveries. The single-aisle market will be especially strong, says the manufacturer, with low-cost carriers and emerging markets driving the growth.
Over the same 20-year period, Embraer projects demand for 6,400 new aircraft in the smaller 70-130+ seat capacity category, with a value of $300 billion. This category will increase from 2,670 aircraft in 2015 to 6,690 by 2035, the fastest growing segment among all aircraft seat capacities, claims the company, with over half of all deliveries (57%) going to carriers in North America (31%) and Asia Pacific (26%). Embraer expects an average annual growth in revenue-passenger kilometres (RPKs) of 4.7% over the period.