Boeing is testing connected cabin technologies – among other things – on its latest flying test bed. In all the ‘ecoDemonstrator’ Boeing 777 is trialling 50 projects.
“This is the latest addition to our ecoDemonstrator programme, where we look at how crew and passengers can have a better experience and how technologies can make flying safer, more efficient and more enjoyable,” said Mike Sinnett, vice president of product strategy and future airplane development at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Using the 777 flying test bed lets us learn faster and move forward on improvements much quicker and with greater fidelity in defining their value.”
The connected cabin technologies would make galleys and lavatories smart, and monitor conditions such as temperature and humidity to facilitate automatic adjustments.
Other technologies on trial include cameras that would provide more passengers with a view outside the aircraft; an electronic flight bag application that would automatically provide rerouting information to pilots when weather conditions warrant; and the sharing of digital information between air traffic control, the flight deck and an airline’s operations centre to optimise routing efficiency and safety.
Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme first took to the skies in 2012. Five aircraft – a 737-800, 787-8 Dreamliner, a 757, an Embraer E170 and a 777 freighter – have tested 112 technologies through 2018. More than a third of the technologies have transitioned to implementation at Boeing or by programme partners. Nearly half remain in further development while testing on the other projects was discontinued.
A key part of the ecoDemonstrator programme is collaboration with industry partners to jointly test technologies and share lessons that advance aviation. More than a dozen partners are participating in the 2019 programme, including iCabin, an industry consortium developing a connectivity standard for networked cabins of the future.
Flight tests will be conducted later in 2019. The flights will include a trip to Frankfurt Airport in Germany, where the ecoDemonstrator’s technology mission will be presented to government officials, industry representatives and STEM students to help inspire the next generation in aerospace leadership. A majority of the test flights will fly on sustainable aviation fuel to demonstrate its viability.