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  • Joe Breitfeller

Boeing and Alaska Airlines Partner on 737-9 ecoDemonstrator Program

Boeing and Alaska Airlines will partner on the manufacturer’s latest ecoDemonstrator program utilizing a new 737-9 MAX. Through the partnership, they will flight test around 20 technologies to enhance the safety and sustainability of air travel.

Rendering of Alaska Airlines' Boeing 737-9 ecoDemonstrator - Courtesy Boeing

On Thursday (June 3, 2021), Boeing announced that they will partner with Alaska Airlines for their latest ecoDemonstrator program utilizing a new 737-9 MAX aircraft. During the program, around 20 technologies will be tested to enhance the safety and sustainability of air travel. The test aircraft will be used to evaluate advanced technologies to cut emissions, reduce noise and recycle carbon composites. The flights will begin this summer with Boeing and Alaska testing a new halon-free fire extinguishing agent, an engine nacelle designed to reduce noise, and the assessment of cabin walls made from recycled materials.

In Thursday’s announcement, Alaska Airlines’ Vice President – Public Affairs and Sustainability, Diana Birkett Rakow, said,

“We have a long history of working with Boeing to advance aviation technology, safety and fuel efficiency. Alaska Airlines flies to some of the most beautiful and geographically diverse regions in the world and we are committed to finding ways to reduce climate impacts across our network. This work with Boeing to accelerate innovation on the ecoDemonstrator program enables us to contribute to a more sustainable future for our global community.”

Boeing launched the ecoDemonstrator program in 2012 and has since evaluated nearly 200 promising technologies to address challenges in the aviation industry and improve the customer experience.

Also commenting on the new partnership, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ CEO, Stan Deal, said,

“Boeing is committed to continually improve air safety and the environmental performance of our products. We're proud to collaborate with our hometown customer and other partners around the world this year to make flying more sustainable.”

Boeing’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Raymond added,

“Boeing put additional emphasis on sustainability in 2020 to align with our stakeholder and business priorities as well as our values. Through our collaboration with industry partners, the ecoDemonstrator program is a great example of our commitment to work together to make flying safer and more sustainable for current and future generations.”

Boeing has leveraged several technologies in past ecoDemonstrator tests for application in current and future airplanes. Some of the technologies that have been implemented include Advanced Technology winglets on the 737 MAX Family that reduce fuel use and emissions, iPad apps that provide real-time weather and other data to pilots, and a camera system on the new 777X that enhances safety by helping pilots avoid ground obstacles.

Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator flights are operated with a blend of petroleum-based and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAF is currently in regular use and can reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent. Last January, Boeing committed to make sure its commercial airplanes are capable and certified to fly on 100 percent SAF by 2030. Additionally, the company is working with regulatory authorities to raise the current 50 percent SAF blending limit. In 2018, Boeing’s 777 Freighter ecoDemonstrator made history by becoming the first commercial airliner to fly on 100 percent SAF.

Source: Boeing