Boeing, NASA and United to test in-flight SAF benefits
Boeing's second ecoDemonstrator Explorer, a 737-10 destined for United Airlines, will fly with 100% SAF and conventional jet fuel in separate tanks and alternate fuels during testing.
NASA's DC-8 Airborne Science Lab will fly behind the commercial jet and measure emissions produced by each type of fuel and contrail ice particles. NASA satellites will capture images of contrail formation as part of the testing.
The researchers aim to understand how advanced fuels, engine combustor designs and other technologies may reduce atmospheric warming.
Tests will assess how SAF affects the characteristics of contrails, the persistent condensation trails produced when airplanes fly through cold, humid air.
The project is the latest phase in a multi-year partnership between Boeing and NASA to analyse how SAF can reduce emissions and enable other environmental benefits.
"We are honoured 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," said Boeing chief sustainability officer Chris Raymond.
"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."
"Flight testing is complex and resource-intensive, yet it's the gold standard for understanding how sustainable aerospace innovations affect changes in contrails and climate," added Rich Wahls, NASA mission integration manager for the Sustainable Flight National Partnership.
"This is why we're bringing NASA's DC-8 to bear on this collaboration, where the valuable flight data will improve our predictive models."
"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," said United chief sustainability officer Lauren Riley.
"We at GE Aerospace proudly support this groundbreaking research collaboration that will deepen our scientific understanding of the impact of SAF on emissions for a more sustainable future of flight," said GE Aerospace vice-president of engineering Mohamed Ali.