September 18, 2012
Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Michael Huerta saw firsthand progress in making air travel more environmentally and energy efficient. This September, the Boeing Aircraft Company flew its first “ecoDemonstrator*,” a modified American Airlines 737 aircraft, to Washington Reagan National Airport to show Porcari, Huerta and other aviation stakeholders new aircraft technologies that offer the promise of cleaner and quieter flying.
The ecoDemonstrator showcased technology developed under FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise Program. CLEEN was kicked off in 2010 as a NextGen partnership with industry to develop and demonstrate new energy saving, environmental aircraft technologies, procedures and sustainable alternative jet fuels. Under the program, the FAA awarded cost sharing agreements to Boeing, General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls Royce North America. Areas being tested include sustainable alternative jet fuels; lighter more efficient gas turbine engine components; noise-reducing engine nozzles; advanced wing trailing edges; optimized flight trajectories using onboard flight management systems; and, open rotor and geared turbofan engines.
One of the promising technologies fitted on the wings of the ecoDemonstrator is the CLEEN Adaptive Trailing-Edges to improve fuel-saving aerodynamic efficiency and also decrease aircraft noise during approach. Tested at Boeing’s Glasgow, MT, facility, the ecoDemonstrator showed that this new technology is viable and could lead to reductions of aircraft fuel burn up to 2 percent. Based on 2009 total fuel gallons burned, a 2 percent fuel savings would be 340 million gallons, saving $1.2 billion.
Next year, Boeing is planning another ecoDemonstrator 787 aircraft to examine Ceramic Matric Composite acoustic engine nozzles that through weight reduction and increased temperature capability could reduce aircraft fuel burn by 1 percent.
Thanks to the testing and data collection under the CLEEN program, the FAA is hoping to have these and other new fuel saving, environmentally friendly technologies on commercial public aircraft in 2015 to 2018.