We had an opportunity to tour Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 777 aircraft at Oshkosh hosted by Rae Lutters, who heads the ecoDemonstrator program at Boeing. Rae was able to show us some of the projects currently being evaluated on the aircraft that we will likely see in future commercial products at Boeing as it aims to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint. The following video of our tour, albeit handheld and not a slick production, provides insight into Boeing’s commitment to the environment and the details they are evaluating that may be on an aircraft in the near future.
“We take these interesting technologies out of the lab and put them in an operational environment to see how they perform in an airline environment,” said Rae as she outlined several key technologies. Those shown in the video include self-adjusting vortex generators that work automatically based on temperature. Temperatures are typically reached at 10,000 feet, when those generators are unnecessary, have them collapse into a flat surface on the wing rather than protrude as they would at lower altitudes, where they improve low-speed handling.
Another interesting technology is a pilot-worn heads-up display that incorporates synthetic vision to improve visibility in poor weather conditions. This takes the traditional HUD one step closer to the pilot, much like Google glasses but not quite virtual reality. Technology ranged from the materials utilized in tray tables to recycling water from the sink in bathrooms to flush toilets and save weight (and therefore carbon). New cleaning technologies, including ultraviolet light technologies, were also under evaluation on board, as were chilling technologies in the aft galley. All in all, about 30 different experiments are being performed on board, a couple of which Boeing wants to remain proprietary.
Much of the cabin of the airplane has been set up for workstations, and this large aircraft has only 55 seats including the crew. Large test stations with real-time telemetry is used to evaluate the effectiveness of the various experiments going on onboard, and orange cables go underneath the floor connecting experiments with work stations and computers that gather information.
We hope you enjoy the tour as much as we did on board the aircraft. You can learn more about the ecoDemonstrator here.