Embraer 170 becomes first non-Boeing ecoDemonstrator flying testbed

Boeing and Embraer SA unveiled the next phase of the Boeing ecoDemonstrator program today (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing showed off the latest aircraft in its ecoDemonstrator program today, rolling out a specially modified version of an Embraer E170 designed to study ways to make aircraft aircraft greener and more efficient. The flying testbed will be used to study new technologies in Brazil over the next two months with the aim of bringing them to market more quickly.

According to Boeing, the ecoDemonstrator program has tested over 50 technologies using a small fleet of aircraft, including the Next-Generation 737-800, 787, and 757. Since 2012, Boeing has included Brazil's Embraer SA in the program, as well as cooperating on Embraer's runway safety efforts and its KC-390 defense aircraft program, but this is the first non-Boeing plane to be included in the ecoDemonstrator program.

The Embraer E170 is scheduled to run a number of new technologies through their paces in August and September. These include a new LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system, which uses lasers to measure true airspeed, angle of attack, and outside air temperature with greater reliability than conventional methods. Another is an "ice phobic" paint that reduces icing as well as repelling bugs and dirt as a way to improve performance and cut down on aircraft washing.

A more obvious addition is a new wing with special slats to cut down on takeoff and landing noises. This will work in concert with new sensors and air visualization techniques to study how well the wing surfaces improve fuel efficiency and cut down on the carbon footprint. Along with this is a Brazilian-produced biofuel blend of 10 percent bio-kerosene and 90 percent fossil kerosene. Boeing says that this is the maximum mix allowed by international standards, yet allows for 50 to 80 percent lower carbon emissions through a plane's life cycle.

"Collaborating with Boeing on the ecoDemonstrator program in the structuring and implementation of new technologies tests reinforces, once again, Embraer's commitment towards a sustainable future," says Mauro Kern, Executive Vice President of Operations at Embraer. "At the same time, as we integrate and test different technologies in a single aircraft, we contribute to consolidate in Brazila powerful tool to support technological development and innovation – the technology demonstrator platform."

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