Developing new technology that will make Boeing aircraft cleaner, quieter and more efficient requires the kind of innovative thinking supported by programs like the ecoDemonstrator and engineer Jennifer Holder.
“The ecoDemonstrator helps make innovative ideas a reality by creating a unique environment where new technology can be tested and validated,” said Holder, ecoDemonstrator test platform manager. “We enable the innovation itself.”
The ecoDemonstrator program uses airplanes as flying testbeds for technologies that can reduce emissions, lower noise, and improve the operational efficiency and fuel economy of Boeing products.
The program’s test platform in 2015 was a 757; in 2014 a 787 tested more than 25 promising technologies than could help improve the environmental performance of Boeing aircraft. Boeing and Brazil-based Embraer will collaborate on the ecoDemonstrator program in 2016 using an Embraer airplane.
The ecoDemonstrator accelerates innovation by giving engineers access to a flying testbed sooner than would otherwise be possible in the development process.
“Engineers can work for years refining and redesigning a new technology with software and simulators,” Holder said. “Getting a chance to test an idea on a flying airplane enables someone to perform engineering tasks and other procedures you may not otherwise get the opportunity to do.”
Identifying new technology to test on an ecoDemonstrator airplane usually isn’t a problem, Holder said. “Once we announce a new platform is available we get a lot of phone calls.”
Holder sees a close alignment between the ecoDemonstrator and Boeing’s core product development strategy.
“Our strategy is to learn by doing and inspire innovative thinking; this is what brought me to the ecoDemonstrator,” she said. “I am inspired by the people who come up with amazing ideas that benefit the company and the environment. It’s great to work with these people day in and day out and be able to help make their innovations happen.”