Etihad Airways ecoDemonstrator Aircraft Takes Flight
Today, Etihad Airways inaugurated the latest aircraft in its journey towards sustainability, with the pioneering 2020 ecoDemonstrator entering commercial service following a series of industry-leading test flights across the United States.
The aircraft, a brand-new Boeing 787-10 registered A6-BMI, is the latest arrival to Etihad’s 39-strong fleet of 787 Dreamliners, making the UAE national airline one of the world’s largest operators of the technologically advanced aircraft type.
As the 2020 ecoDemonstrator, in partnership with Boeing, NASA and Safran Landing Systems, Etihad’s 787 Dreamliner was used as a flying testbed to accelerate technological developments with the goal of making commercial aviation safer and more sustainable.
A familiar sight in the skies over the American Northwest in recent months, the uniquely branded Dreamliner, kitted out with complex testing equipment, conducted extensive research flying above Montana and between Washington state and South Carolina.
To celebrate its launch into regular service, the special aircraft has been fitted with a commemorative plaque highlighting its contribution to sustainability, while its fuselage still retains some of the original ecoDemonstrator flight-test branding, including the ecoDemonstrator and Boeing logos, in addition to the words ‘From Abu Dhabi for the World’, a reimagined version of the airline’s famous tagline.
During the ecoDemonstrator programme, A6-BMI was decked out with special equipment for eight days of specialised testing on seven initiatives to enhance safety and reduce CO2 emissions and noise.
Flights took place in Glasgow, Montana, and during two transcontinental trips between Seattle, Washington, and Charleston South Carolina. During testing, a series of flights gathered the most detailed NASA aircraft noise information to date from approximately 1,200 microphones attached to the outside of the 787 and also positioned on the ground.
The information will improve NASA’s aircraft noise prediction capabilities, advance ways for pilots to reduce noise and inform future quiet aircraft designs. Two cross-country flights across the United States demonstrated a new way for pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operations centres to communicate simultaneously, resulting in optimised routing, arrival times and reduced CO2 emissions.
As part of the programme, Etihad and Boeing tested two innovative ‘wellness’ technologies that will help airlines combat the treatment of COVID-19, by safely and quickly cleaning high-touch surfaces. These were a handheld ultraviolet light disinfecting system and an antimicrobial coating that helps prevent the growth of bacteria on tray tables, arm rests and other surfaces.