An Etihad Airways 787-10 Dreamliner decked out with special equipment that can enhance safety and reduce CO2 emissions and noise has commenced flight testing this week for the Boeing ecoDemonstrator programme.
A series of flights 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 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 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.”
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.
Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Aviation group chief operating officer, said: “Etihad participating in this year’s ecoDemonstrator programme builds on our core innovation and sustainability tenets while supporting the research and development of our partners to bring innovation from the laboratory to a real world testing environment.
“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.
“Sustainability remains a priority for Etihad in spite of the current Covid-19 crisis and this is just one initiative we’ve taken since the start of the pandemic to continue our drive for sustainable aviation.
“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.”
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, as well as supporting the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System.