NASA And Boeing Testing Eco-Friendly Tech For Airplanes
If the experiment is successful, planes can reduce fuel consumption by 6 percent.
Boeing’s new ecoDemonstrator (a 757) is slated to go on a series of flights this spring to try out two of NASA’s experimental fuel-saving techniques. One of them’s the Active Flow Control Enhanced Vertical Tail Flight Experiment, which entails installing 31 tiny jets on a plane’s vertical tail or dorsal fin. These jets can change the flow of air over the tail’s surface and generate enough force to stabilize the plane during takeoff and landing, even if the fin’s around 17 percent smaller than usual. The plane would be much lighter with a smaller tail, which equals less fuel consumption.
By putting these small jets through the wringer, ecoDemonstrator is going to do a series of test flights in order to test five different insect-repellent plane coatings. This is the most critical aspect of the flight as even a thing as tiny as a small bug can cause disruptions in the air flow surrounding the wings of the plane. If this air flow remains smooth, planes can reduce their fuel consumption by as much as 6 percent. It might appear to be a small change to us but this small percentage can lead to savings up to millions of dollars and the environment will have to bear a lower amount of emissions.
NASA already ensured that these two technologies work in a laboratory setting. But they still need to go through field testing to see if they can survive the harsh environments airplanes typically face. They’re only two of the eight projects being developed under the agency’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) initiative, though, so expect more test flights to take to the skies after spring.