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NASA Administrator Talks Green Aviation with Global Airline Audience
July 3, 2014

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden had a rare opportunity to address the representatives responsible for environmental compliance at U.S. and international airlines during a recent industry event in Seattle.

Organized by The Boeing Company, ecoSummit was a two-day event that provided industry participants with a chance to talk peer-to-peer about how they make airline operations more environmentally sustainable for the long term.

Bolden kicked off the first day of the summit with a keynote address highlighting what NASA has already done to reduce aviation's environmental impact and which technologies are on the horizon that could benefit airlines.

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“Greening aviation is one of our top goals at NASA. It's at the forefront of a lot of our cutting edge work to open the aviation frontiers of tomorrow, and it's very important to us," Bolden said. "Our vision is to deliver technical solutions for the challenges facing the existing global air transportation system, and our foundation is built on understanding emerging global trends.”

Research leaders from NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) participated in break-out sessions on issues airlines care about: biofuels, operational efficiency, and airplane technologies that reduce fuel use, emissions and noise.

“Boeing and NASA are strong partners in advancing technology that will improve commercial aviation's environmental performance, including collaboration to test new technologies on Boeing's ecoDemonstrator Flight Test Airplanes," said John Tracy, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Engineering, Operations & Technology at Boeing. "NASA plays a critical role in civil aviation as well as space exploration."

A centerpiece of the event was Boeing's ecoDemonstrator development and flight test program. Aircraft in this program are specially outfitted with experimental technologies designed for use on future airliners and currently being tested by Boeing or its partners such as NASA or the Federal Aviation Administration. NASA will fly three experimental technologies on ecoDemonstrator aircraft beginning this fall and running into next year to demonstrate their capabilities.  

"Flight test programs like ecoDemonstrator provide us with resources we can't afford on our own, such as access to current generation large transport aircraft, to test technologies that we and industry know can make a difference in air travel," said Dr. Jaiwon Shin, ARMD associate administrator. "In the past, partnerships like this have resulted in technologies with very real benefits, such as the chevron nozzles that are now on some jet engines to dramatically reduce noise inside and outside the aircraft cabin.”

This year, the Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 will be flown to test a NASA-developed air traffic management tool designed to help pilots maintain safe spacing with aircraft in front of them during its approach to an airport.

In 2015, the Boeing ecoDemonstrator 757 will be equipped with two NASA technology demonstrations. The first uses active flow control on the aircraft's tail to determine if future tail designs can be altered to reduce drag. The second will test the effectiveness of coatings applied to a section of one wing's leading edge to see how well they reduce residue buildup from insect impacts during flight. As small as the issue of bug residue might seem, any disruption in the smooth flow of air over the surface of a wing increases drag. Ground tests have already demonstrated that the coating reduces drag and improves fuel efficiency.

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Karen Rugg
NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden talks to airlines.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden talks to airlines about NASA's work to reduce aviation's environmental impact.
Image Credit: 
The Boeing Company / Jim Anderson
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Bolden standing in front of a large poster, learning more about the Boeing 757 ecoDemonstrator.
Bolden learns more about the active flow control experiment to be flown on the Boeing 757 ecoDemonstrator.
Image Credit: 
The Boeing Company / Paul C. Gordon
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A Boeing test pilot Kirk Vining (right) describes the experiments that will be flown aboard the Boeing 787 ecoDemonstrator to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Boeing test pilot Kirk Vining (right) describes to Bolden the experiments that will be flown aboard the Boeing 787 ecoDemonstrator, including a NASA software tool that helps maintain safe spacing between aircraft.
Image Credit: 
The Boeing Company / Paul C. Gordon
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NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden disembarks from the Boeing 757 ecoDemonstrator.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden disembarks from the Boeing 757 ecoDemonstrator.
Image Credit: 
The Boeing Company / Paul C. Gordon
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A Boeing researcher (left) shows NASA's Jaiwon Shin (center) and Charlie Bolden (right) how coatings to prevent insect residue buildup will be applied to the leading edge of a Boeing 757 wing.
Boeing researcher Jeff Iman (left) shows NASA's Jaiwon Shin (center) and Charlie Bolden (right) how coatings developed by NASA to prevent insect residue buildup will will be applied to the leading edge of a Boeing 757 wing.
Image Credit: 
The Boeing Company / Paul C. Gordon
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Page Last Updated: July 3rd, 2014
Page Editor: Lillian Gipson