New ecoDemonstrator aircraft shown by Embraer, Boeing

Boeing and Embraer have announced the next phase of their joint ecoDemonstrator programme by unveiling an Embraer 170 flying testbed which will feature advanced environmental technologies that will undergo operational testing in Brazil during August and September.

“Collaborating with Boeing on the ecoDemonstrator programme in the structuring and implementation of new technologies tests reinforces, once again, Embraer's commitment towards a sustainable future,” explained Mauro Kern, executive vice president of operations at Embraer.

“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,” added Boeing chief technology officer John Tracy.

The ecoDemonstrator flights will test several technologies designed to reduce carbon emissions, fuel use and noise.

First is LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology using lasers to measure air data parameters such as true airspeed, angle of attack and outside air temperature. LIDAR has the potential to increase air data reliability by complementing current sensors, which could lead to further innovations that improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

There will also be an ‘ice- phobic’ paint designed to reduce icing and help prevent accumulation of dirt and bugs due to its low adhesive property. The special paint can help operators save water by reducing the need for frequent aircraft washing.

The aircraft will also feature a new wing design with improved slats to reduce noise on takeoff and approach.

Special sensors and air visualisation techniques near the wing surface are being tested to better understand in-flight aerodynamics. This analysis could lead to further innovations to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, such as new wing designs.

Also being tested is a Brazilian-produced biofuel blend made up of 10% bio-kerosene and 90% fossil kerosene, the maximum mixture according to international standards. Studies have shown that sustainably produced aviation biofuel emits 50%-80% lower carbon emissions through its lifecycle than fossil jet fuel.

The ecoDemonstrator collaboration expands a relationship that began in 2012 when Boeing and Embraer signed a co-operation agreement to benefit their customers, their companies and the global aviation industry. Since then, Boeing and Embraer have supported Embraer's KC-390 defence aircraft programme and improved runway safety by providing commercial customers with tools to reduce runway excursions. Last year Boeing and Embraer opened a joint biofuel research centre in São José dos Campos to perform biofuel research and coordinate research with Brazilian universities and other institutions.

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