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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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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.

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