Boeing Partners With NASA And United Airlines

Daniel Fowkes
15 Oct 2023
· Aircraft 
Boeing is partnering with NASA and United Airlines for in-flight testing to measure how sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) affects contrails and non-carbon emissions, in addition to reducing the fuel’s life cycle climate impact. Shown here, Boeing’s second ecoDemonstrator Explorer, a 737-10 destined for United Airlines with LEAP-1B engines, will fly with 100% SAF and conventional jet fuel in separate tanks and alternate fuels during testing

Boeing has announced a partnership with NASA and United Airlines to test SAF benefits with air-to-air flights.

The Purpose Of The Collaboration

As part of the collaborative efforts, a mission will be to measure how Sustainable aviation fuel affects contrails and non-carbon emissions.

Researchers at all three companies will investigate how atmosphere warnings can be reduced through advanced fuels, engine combuster designs and other essential technologies.

A Second ecoDemonstrator Explorer

United Airlines will adorn a special livery on a 737-10 once delivered as part of the collaborative effort. This will act as the second ecoDemonstrator Explorer for Boeing.

During testing, this aircraft will fly with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel alongside conventional jet fuel in separate tanks and alternative fuels.

This will be hugely pivotal to understanding reactions and progress research for the trio as part of the efforts.

While the 737-10 stole the show. NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Science Lab will fly behind the commercial jet. As part of the DC-8 role, emissions produced by the varying fuel types alongside ice particles from contrails will be measured.

In air-to-air testing, NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Science Lab will fly behind the Boeing ecoDemonstrator Explorer to measure emissions and contrail ice particles. (Image: NASA)

Comments From Executives

We are honored to collaborate with NASA, United Airlines, and other valued partners on research that will strengthen the industry’s understanding of the benefits of SAF beyond reducing carbon emissions. We’ve solved hard problems before, and if we continue to take meaningful actions, I’m confident we’ll achieve a more sustainable aerospace future, together.

Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Raymond

This collaboration between Boeing, NASA and United has the potential to not only help us better understand contrails but to provide the full scope of what our transition to SAF can provide beyond greenhouse-gas reductions.

United Chief Sustainability Officer Lauren Riley

Boeing And Its ecoDemonstrastors

Boeing notes that its ecoDemonstrator program has seen continued expansions across recent years.

Boeing, NASA and Alaska Airlines in 2021 focused on ground tests with Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Eleven total aeroplanes have served as flying test beds for the ecoDemonstrator program since its launch in 2012.

Alongside the Alaska Airlines 737-9, there’s been the ecoDemonstrator 777-200ER, a 787-10 flight test jet, among many more.

All this aligns with Boeing’s commitment to delivering its commercial aeroplanes by 2030 with 100% compatibility towards SAF. This is an ambitious target, but the American plane maker is already making strides towards it.

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