Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator latest in 10 year effort

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By Scott Hamilton

This Boeing 777-200ER is the latest in the company's 10-year ecoD program. Credit: Boeing.

June 27, 2022, © Leeham News: Boeing’s unveiling of a 777-200ER ecoDemonstrator on June 14 is the latest “ecoD” airplane during the past 10 years in its continuing research for environmentally preferred solutions.

This is the second 777 in the ecoD program. The first was an airplane operated by FedEx. Others were the 737NG, 757, and 737-9 MAX. Each platform hosts a suite of ideas for research to reduce fuel burn, test different airplane and cabin materials and new “environmentally preferred” components, liquids, gases, etc.

Many of the items would not justify stand-alone research, Boeing says. For example, on a previous ecoD, recessed upper and lower rotating beacon lights were part of the technology suite. Also, some ideas aren’t strictly a “thing”, but procedures intended to reduce taxi time, fuel use and concepts to make flying more efficient.

The 777 ecoD unveiled two weeks ago will test a new heads-up display that is worn by the pilots. Heads-up displays have been around for decades. Military aircraft were among the first applications. Alaska Airlines was the first carrier to use them for flights. But these HUDs are mounted above the instrument panels at eye level. Integration into the cockpit is costly and complex. A HUD incorporated into glasses or goggles is one less thing that goes into the cockpit which must be disposed of at a future date.

The new ecoD will also test new taxi procedures intended to reduce fuel burn and emissions.

  • The total life cycle, from “birth” to recycling is part of the drive toward environmentally preferred design and production.
  • The jury is still out on whether composites and aluminum at recycling is preferred. But the differences have narrowed.
  • There’s a “good chance” Boeing’s next new airplane, whatever it is, will be composite—but it’s not a given. Folding wings may be a feature.

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