ecoDemonstrator advances clear, quiet mission toward sustainability

New 787-10 Dreamliner joins Etihad Airways fleet after serving as program’s latest flying test bed.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Carefully position over 1,000 microphones on the ground and secure 222 more to the outside of a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner with 75 pounds of speed tape. Connect them with some 32 miles of cables, coaxial cable and other wiring. Then use 274 computer processing cores to collect nearly 1.9 terabytes of information during seven test flights.

That’s just part of the equipment used on this year’s ecoDemonstrator program, which concluded earlier this fall before the airplane was delivered to partner Etihad Airways. The newest addition to the United Arab Emirates flag carrier’s fleet is in service now following a recent celebration in Abu Dhabi.

Etihad Airways’ newest 787-10 Dreamliner is flying passengers and cargo now after serving as the 2020 ecoDemonstrator platform. The airplane takes it place alongside a special livery 787-10 that is the flagship of the airline’s Greenliner program to reduce aviation’s environmental impact. (Etihad Airways photo)

“Boeing’s partnership with Etihad Airways on this year’s ecoDemonstrator program has elevated our strategic sustainability alliance to a whole new level,” said Stan Deal, Commercial Airplanes president and CEO. “Collaborations like these accelerate innovation that further enhances the safety and sustainability of flying, and will benefit aviation and the world for years to come.”

In partnership with NASA, the program conducted the most comprehensive aeroacoustic research ever on a commercial airliner. The information will improve the agency’s airplane noise prediction capabilities, advance ways for pilots to reduce noise and inform future quiet aircraft designs.

Other testing evaluated a landing gear modified to be quieter by Safran Landing Systems and an ultraviolet light wand that safely disinfected the flight deck in just 15 minutes. Two transcontinental flights across the United States demonstrated a set of tools and procedures that optimized routing and arrival time to reduce CO2 emissions.

“As the first 787-10 to ever take part in the ecoDemonstrator program, this very special aircraft stands testament to the innovation and drive for sustainable aviation that forms a core element of Etihad’s values and long-term vision,” said Rami Awadalla, Etihad Airways director of Fleet Engineering. “We’re incredibly proud of our partnership with Boeing, as this exciting and progressive program will have a real-world impact on our industry and demonstrates Etihad’s ambitious sustainability strategy.”

All test flights and the airplane’s journey home to Abu Dhabi flew on up to 50% sustainable aviation fuel. The full 50/50 blend comprised about 70,000 U.S. gallons — representing the largest amount ever commercially produced.

Watch the video to see how a brand new 787-10 was transformed into a flying test bed.

Visit Boeing’s Sustainability website for more information about the company’s environmental, social and governance efforts.

-- By Paul McElroy