An Etihad Airways B787-10 Dreamliner, decked out with special equipment that can enhance safety and reduce CO2 emissions and noise, has commenced flight testing this week for Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme.

Boeing ecoDemonstrator 2020 program
Boeing ecoDemonstrator 2020 program

Collaboration with NASA and Boeing

A series of flights that will gather the most detailed information to date about aircraft acoustics, from some 1,200 microphones attached to the outside of the 787 and positioned on the ground. The collaboration between NASA and Boeing will improve the agency’s aircraft noise prediction capabilities, advance ways for pilots to reduce noise and inform future quiet aircraft designs.

“At NASA, we’ve been researching the individual airplane noise sources, their interactions with the airframe and how they combine to the total aircraft noise” NASA technical lead Dr. Russell Thomas said. “This unique, carefully designed, flight test provides the environment where all these effects are measured, which will be key to advancing our ability to design lower-noise aircraft”.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Operating Officer, said: “By choosing to take part in this programme we are proud to work with the likes of Boeing, NASA and Safran to test cutting-edge technologies and explore “blue sky” opportunities, to improve airspace efficiency, reduce fuel use, lower noise for the community and cut CO2 emissions”.

“As far as Etihad is concerned, environmental sustainability shouldn’t be an option or fair-weather project to be shelved when it’s not convenient against other challenges.”

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Operating Officer

Collaboration with Safran

Most community complaints about aircraft noise stem from flights approaching airports, according to industry figures. About one-quarter of the noise is created by the landing gear. Another project will test landing gear modified to be quieter by Safran Landing Systems.

“Our collaboration with NASA and Safran is key to accelerating innovation and furthering the ecoDemonstrator’s mission to improve the sustainability of air travel,” ecoDemonstrator Program Chief Engineer Rae Lutters said. “We’re eager to see a year’s worth of planning come to life when we begin testing.”

Two flights are being conducted during which pilots, air traffic controllers and an airline’s operations centre simultaneously share digital information and use a NASA system called tailored arrival management. These tools enhance safety by reducing workload and radio frequency congestion, optimise routing efficiency to lower fuel use, emissions and noise and support the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System.

UV Light Wand Technology

As part of Boeing’s Confident Travel Initiative to address COVID-19, a handheld ultraviolet light wand will be tested to determine its effectiveness in disinfecting flight decks and cabins.

The UV wand is an emerging innovation that augments the multiple layers of protection in place to disinfect the inside of an airplane.

A new approach :

  • Boeing developed a UV wand prototype that demonstrates an ability to successfully disinfect flight decks, lavatories and cabins.

How it works:

  • UV light can be scanned inches away from aircraft interior surfaces, disinfecting areas and surfaces where the light reaches. Testing is ongoing to fully validate its effectiveness and safety (for operators and materials).

UV and the COVID-19 virus:

  • UV light has been shown to be effective at neutralizing pathogens. Testing against the COVID-19 virus is ongoing.

A continuation of research:

  • The UV wand is a logical extension of Boeing’s work implementing UV disinfection in a lavatory


  • Boeing may partner with a manufacturer for potential UV wand production to accelerate its introduction into the market

UV wand technology to sanitize the cockpit
UV wand technology to sanitize the cockpit
Confident Travel Initiative: New Technology Testing at AIC - Airplane Integration Center
Confident Travel Initiative: New Technology Testing at AIC - Airplane Integration Center

All scheduled test flights are being flown on a blend of up to 50% sustainable fuel, which includes the largest volumes of 50% blend biofuel commercially produced. Flight testing at Boeing’s facility in Glasgow, Montana in the US is expected to last about 10 days before the aircraft is delivered to Etihad in late September.