• Joe Breitfeller

Etihad Airways Inaugurates Pioneering ecoDemonstrator Aircraft Into Regular Service

Etihad’s 2020 ecoDemonstrator has now entered service after a year of sustainability initiatives following the launch of the Etihad Greenliner Program at the Dubai Airshow in November 2019.


Etihad's Pioneering EcoDemonstrator Enters Regular Service - Courtesy Etihad Airways

On Tuesday (December 15, 2020), Etihad Airways announced the entry into regular service of their 2020 ecoDemonstrator aircraft. The pioneering Boeing 787 enters service following the launch of the Etihad Greenliner Program at the Dubai Airshow in November 2019. Etihad implemented key sustainability initiatives during 2020, despite the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The carrier’s flagship Greenliner, a Boeing 787-10, entered service in January 2020 and operated an EcoFlight from Abu Dhabi to Brussels with optimized routing, minimal single-use plastics and other fuel efficiency initiatives. The carrier also committed to zero net carbon emissions by 2050 and vowed to half their net 2019 emission levels by 2035. In Tuesday’s announcement, Etihad Aviation Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Tony Douglas, said,


“As the first 787-10 to take part in the ecoDemonstrator programme, this very special aircraft stands testament to the innovation and drive for sustainable aviation that forms a core element of Etihad’s values and long-term vision. This is in line with the tremendous strides being made by Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, in the research and development of viable solutions to combat climate change.


“Etihad’s partnership with Boeing, and participation in the programme with NASA and Safran, is one the UAE’s national airline is incredibly proud of. This exciting and progressive programme will have a real-world impact on our industry as part of Etihad’s Greenliner Programme and demonstrates Etihad’s ambitious sustainability strategy. As a prime example of industry collaboration, this aircraft is a unique example of how the aviation industry can come together for a more sustainable future.”


Also commenting on the ecoDemonstrator collaboration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ President and CEO, Stan Deal, stated,


“Boeing’s partnership with Etihad Airways on this year’s ecoDemonstrator program elevated the strategic sustainability alliance we formed last year to a whole new level. Collaborations like these are invaluable to accelerate innovation that further enhances the safety and sustainability of flying. The testing we conducted, in partnership with NASA and Safran Landing Systems, will benefit aviation and the world for years to come.”


In February 2020, the Greenliner operated an optimized return flight between Abu Dhabi and Dublin, with optimized climb and continuous descent, reducing the flight time by 40 minutes, cutting fuel consumption by 800 kg and CO2 by three tonnes. In August, Etihad’s ecoDemonstrator performed testing in the U.S. and in October the company raised $800 million in sustainability-linked financing, a first for the global aviation industry. The airline also committed to purchasing carbon offsets in December 2020, to completely neutralize CO2 emissions of its flagship 787-10 Greenliner, registration A6-BMI, for the full year of operations in 2021. Finally, as announced yesterday, the ecoDemonstrator has entered service as part of Etihad’s fleet of 39 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.


The 2020ecoDemonstrator was used as a flying testbed in partnership with Boeing, NASA, and Safran Landing Systems, to accelerate technological developments to make commercial aviation safer and more sustainable. The uniquely branded Dreamliner, which was equipped with complex equipment, conducted extensive testing in Montana and between Washington State and South Carolina.


Celebrating the aircraft’s launch into regular passenger revenue service, the aircraft has been fitted with a commemorative plaque, highlighting its unique contribution to sustainability, while the fuselage retains some of the original ecoDemonstrator branding including the ecoDemonstrator and Boeing logos. The livery also includes a version of Etihad’s famous tagline, ‘From Abu Dhabi to the World’, which has been reimagined as ‘From Abu Dhabi for the World.’


During testing, the aircraft was fitted with special equipment for eight days of testing on seven key initiatives to enhance safety, while reducing noise and emissions. The flights took place in Glasgow, Montana (U.S.) and during two transcontinental flights between Seattle, Washington and Charleston, South Carolina. With approximately 1,200 microphones attached to the outside of the 787, NASA was able to gather the most detailed aircraft noise information to date, improving their noise prediction capabilities. The testing will also advance techniques for pilots to reduce noise, while informing future aircraft design. The cross-country flights also demonstrated a new way for pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operations centers to communicate simultaneously, resulting in route optimization and reduced emissions.


Throughout the testing period, the highest permissible Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) was used, including on the aircraft’s delivery flight from Charleston to Abu Dhabi. The ferry flight alone resulted in the avoidance of over 60 tonnes of emissions and during the flight, Etihad collaborated with multiple Airspace Service Providers (ANSPS) including the FAA, UK NATS and Eurocontrol for flight path optimization, resulting in a one tonne fuel burn reduction as well as a reduction in around four tonnes of CO2 emissions.



Source: Etihad Airways