The future’s green: Boeing and American Airlines test out new ‘eco-plane’

At first glance, it may look no different from a standard 737. But this 'ecoDemonstrator' has some new modifications that could one day make flying more fuel-efficient.

Boeing and American Airlines test modified 737

Source: Boeing

American Airlines and Boeing showcased their ‘ecoDemonstrator’ on Tuesday: a next-generation 737-800 jet that is testing advanced technologies aimed at making flying more sustainable.

The prototype plane, which American Airlines has loaned to Boeing, has been fitted with experimental equipment that aims to reduce its emissions, fuel burn, carbon footprint and noise.

The ecoDemonstrator programme is a joint collaboration between American Airlines, Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has helped to fund the modifcations to the plane.

Technologies being tested on the plane include “adapted trailing edges” – devices in the wings that help provide additional lift and reduce drag when the plane is at cruising altitude to improve fuel efficiency.

The aircraft has also been fitted with a fuel cell which could potentially replace the plane’s engines as a back-up power source.

Boeing is collecting data during test flights, which are set to continue before the plane is refurbished and put back into service with American Airlines later this year.

Boeing says it plans to test a new range of technologies on a different plane each year and will begin further tests on a widebody jet in 2013.

Aircraft manufacturers are keen to show their green credentials, as they try to help airlines meet their pledge to halve emissions to 2005 levels by 2050.

Across the pond, Airbus recently shared its ideas to make air travel more efficient and environmentally friendly in 2050.

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