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The goal is to reduce noise and fuel consumption

Over the last year, the commercial and military aviation industry has started to talk a lot about greener aircraft and biofuel to reduce the need for crude oil and produce less pollution. Much of the news focuses on biofuels that reduce the need for traditional petroleum based jet fuel, but there are other technologies at work in the airline industry to make aircraft produce less pollution.

The industry isn't only talking about producing less pollution in the way of hydrocarbons, but in less noise pollution with quieter aircraft. Boeing has announced that American Airlines will be the first company to test a new Boeing 737-800 jet that will use new technology to make it more efficient and produce less noise.

"We are proud to have American Airlines as our launch partner for this new generation of technology that can bolster aviation's role as the most efficient means of global transportation," said Boeing Vice President of Environment and Aviation Policy Billy Glover. "There's no better way to prepare advanced technologies for market entry than flying them and no better choice than the best selling single-aisle airplane of all time -- the Boeing Next-Generation 737."

The American 737-800 will be the first plane to use the new technology including adaptable trailing edge technology that is part of the FAA Continuous Lower Energy Emissions Noise or CLEEN program. The trailing edge tech will reduce noise and emissions in all phases of flight including takeoff, cruise, and landing.

Other CLEEN program tech that will be in the aircraft includes a variable fan nozzle to reduce noise and enable other advanced efficiency tech to be implemented. The aircraft will use a flight trajectory optimization system to pick the most fuel-efficient path to a destination. The aircraft will also has regenerative fuel cells onboard for power that could potentially reduce weight, fuel burn, and CO2 emissions.

"Our ecoDemonstrator flight test program allows us to accelerate promising technologies and move them onto airplane models and into new aircraft design considerations across the industry," said Boeing ecoDemonstrator Program Manager David Akiyama. "It also allows us to verify airplane applicability and identify and eliminate potential integration challenges."

American Airlines will also test a dual isle aircraft that is unnamed at this time. The testing on the other aircraft will start later. The American Airlines 737-800 with the new tech onboard will start operations in 2012.

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By quiksilvr on 6/24/2011 9:00:29 AM , Rating: 4
How much less fuel does it use? How much less noise? How much more/less expensive? (Relative to other 737 aircraft and Airbus equivalent)

RE: Numbers?
By bug77 on 6/24/2011 9:33:43 AM , Rating: 1
A lot.

RE: Numbers?
By GulWestfale on 6/24/2011 9:39:49 AM , Rating: 2
i think what they are testing here is how much potential this tech has, so the exact numbers don't really matter. the 737 is after all not the youngest design out there anymore; if this test is successful i would imagine the tech would then be applied to newer planes, like the upcoming 787.

RE: Numbers?
By DanNeely on 6/24/2011 9:47:14 AM , Rating: 2
some probably will. A lot of the engine tech is flowing the other way though. The bigger aircraft have newer engine designs than the commuter jets.

RE: Numbers?
By psaus42 on 6/25/2011 6:42:56 AM , Rating: 2
The numbers here do matter. The 787 is much bigger than the 737 (Wide body vs narrow body - Passat vs Jetta). The 787 is to replace the 767. And with the latest news from the Paris airshow, record high sales of the neoA320 (or some similar name) is kicking Boeing in the ____. A320 is a direct competitor to Boeing's 737.
So I agree with the initial post - what's the measurable difference. If the numbers aren't available yet, surely there's a target/speculation.
This article, as printed, sounds more like an advertisement... an advertisement not too dissimilar from my AAdvantage Airmail newsletter.

RE: Numbers?
By Amiga500 on 6/25/2011 6:51:55 AM , Rating: 2
The article is lifted from Aviation Week and/or Flight Global I think (well, Aviation Week will have been the primary source even if it was off another website).

I read it there before seeing it here. :-)

RE: Numbers?
By Amiga500 on 6/24/2011 1:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
Nah, not much.

The continuous trailing edge will hopefully chop alot of the trailing vortex quadrupole noise.

For personal/professional reasons, I'm very interested in both the VAFN and fuel cells.

The VAFN will cut a little bit of the jet noise from the engine - but the CF56 fan isn't really of a low enough pressure ratio to fully benefit from the VAFN. I'm also interested to see if they are going to copy the translating cowl from the P&W GTF.

The regenerative fuel cells is a good idea, sort of, they will reduce ground emissions by re-charging their H2 tanks in flight - very nice indeed, but there are benefits to running the fuel cell off H2 in flight rather than using it to generate H2. I (and plenty of others) will be keeping a close eye on it and hoping it works well.

Overall fuel consumption in flight won't be cut by much, but overall mission fuel should be cut decently through using the fuel cell as an APU for on-ground operations.

Good luck to them. :-)

RE: Numbers?
By Smartless on 6/24/2011 2:42:38 PM , Rating: 2
I always thought the fuel cells were going to take over the job the diesel engines had which was air-conditioning, lighting, and the accessory needs of aircraft? Is that what you meant by ground emissions?

As for Boeing's aging 737 fleet, I agree with your later post. I believe they are revamping the design to accommodate later engine designs as well as more composite internal framing. I wonder if they're planning on just keeping the 737 name to represent a class of single aisle plane since they have so many versions with some being replaced (767 replaced by 787 etc.)

RE: Numbers?
By Amiga500 on 6/24/2011 2:51:19 PM , Rating: 2
On ground, all aircraft power* comes from the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), a turbine which will run off the same kerosene as the main engines. But if planes are sitting on tarmac for long enough, it can burn off a couple of tons of fuel!! It gives off a load of CO2/NOx/etc - and indeed your right, that is what I mean by ground emissions.

[Maybe some airports can hook up an off-board mains power unit, but most wouldn't (at least, not here in Europe anyway).]

*powers air-con, lighting, heating, avionics, engine start, etc etc

RE: Numbers?
By Smartless on 6/24/2011 3:08:37 PM , Rating: 2
Ah that makes sense. Thanks. You must be in the industry. From what little info I've gleaned from family who work at Boeing, it seems like they had this in the works in 90s but have been so stressed trying to make the composite frames work they haven't implemented it until now. Hey with any luck all this composite research will trickle down to the auto-industry and we'll have more options in building lighter, efficient cars instead these damn ethanol hybrids.

RE: Numbers?
By tng on 6/24/2011 7:32:08 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if they're planning on just keeping the 737 name to represent a class of single aisle plane since they have so many versions with some being replaced (767 replaced by 787 etc.)
The 737-800 series was the reason Boeing dropped the 757. With the 737-800 they had a plane that could carry as many passengers as the 757 so the got rid of it. Also remember that this is a plane that has a 5K mile range and has grown to fill many niches in the airline industry.

I don't think that they will get rid of the basic 737 design for some time.

RE: Numbers?
By DanNeely on 6/24/2011 9:45:50 AM , Rating: 2
IIRC reading that the next generation engines for planes in the 737 class would be about 20% more fuel efficient. They were also enough larger that there was some concern about if the 737 could mount them without significant modification. The newer Airbus equivalent had somewhat higher wings and would be able to carry them without difficulty.

RE: Numbers?
By Amiga500 on 6/24/2011 2:04:12 PM , Rating: 2

From what I understand Boeing can fit the Leap-X with a mod to the nose gear (still not a small undertaking).

But the GTF requires a nose + main gear mod (a big deal).

Both engines will obviously require mods to the pylon and wing spars, probably wingbox and possibly the inboard wing ribs & skin/stringers.

Hence why Boeing are taking so long to decide - it is a much harder undertaking for them than Airbus. But I'm still convinced they have no option - if they do a clean slate now, they'll need to do another in 10 years time when propfans are mature enough to go onto aircraft. A 25-40% reduction in sfc from propfans simply cannot be ignored. Boeing will have to re-engine the 737 IMO.

RE: Numbers?
By Ringold on 6/24/2011 4:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
Would you be able to point out the key difference between a turboprop and propfan? A propfan looks like a slightly rearranged turboprop to my lay eyes, but it is very interesting.

RE: Numbers?
By Amiga500 on 6/25/2011 6:50:28 AM , Rating: 3
Broadly speaking, it sort of is.

However, a propfan can also form part of the inner engine core's compressive stages (for a tractor unit), or be directly linked to the turbine stages (for a pusher unit). A turboprop will tend not to do this - it'll use a gearbox to adjust rotation speeds.

A propfan with thus spin at much higher speeds, but due to the swept tips, still operates effectively. Here is graph of propulsive efficiency of the different types of engines.

I see some internet sites claiming that the distinction is that the exhaust of a turboprop is not used for additional propulsion - that is completely untrue.

RE: Numbers?
By tng on 6/24/2011 7:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
One thing that you notice about a B737 is that the engine cowlings are flattened on the bottom because of the height of the wings off the ground.

How much bigger are the new engines?

RE: Numbers?
By tng on 6/24/2011 7:22:40 PM , Rating: 2
The aircraft will use a flight trajectory optimization system to pick the most fuel-efficient path to a destination.
As a frequent flyer, the path from pulling out of the gate to pulling landing is not really up to the pilot or plane in this case.

Air Traffic Control tells pilots where, how high, speed, etc... along a given flight path of a commercial jet. As one regional control center hands off a flight to another, pilots are often told to come to new headings/altitudes to accommodate traffic already in the airspace.

So where does that leave a flightpath that the jet decides for you?

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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