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Ten steps to a more environmentally sustainable Boeing 777 (Video)

Ever since it was first delivered to airline customers in 1995, the Boeing 777 has set an industry standard for efficiency, comfort and reliability. Now the Boeing 777 program is taking it a few steps further.

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Steve Kury inspects a filter on Air New Zealand's 777-300ER. Previously, mechanics replaced filters after every flight. After extensive research it was determined that replacement of filters was unnecessary.

Ten steps, to be exact.

Recently the program came up with 10 initiatives that decrease the amount of jet fuel used and carbon dioxide emitted during the 777 delivery process. Air New Zealand became the first customer to use all 10 of the initiatives when it took delivery of a 777-300ER (extended range) jetliner in early November.

"Air New Zealand is excited to participate," said Duncan Mairs, Air New Zealand's technical manager, who is currently based in Seattle overseeing the airline's 777-300ER deliveries.

"We have a wide range of environmental initiatives under way across the business. Being able to find ways to lessen the environmental impact of building an airplane is another excellent step on our journey to becoming the world's most environmentally sustainable airline," Mairs said.

During the 20-day paint and delivery process, Boeing workers reduced the number of times potable water and hydraulic filters are changed and painted the exterior with chromate-free primer.

The chrome-free primer used on the jet reduces the environmental impact of the paint as well as potential health and safety risks during painting; eliminating the need for special handling of paint waste and clean-up, and for designated off-site disposal areas.

In addition, Boeing crews found new ways to recycle materials and used electric carts instead of gas-powered vehicles to service the airplane.

"A team of employees identified redundancies in testing," said Jeff Klemann, vice president Everett Delivery Center. "One idea was to eliminate engine-run tests already performed by GE, the 777's engine manufacturer. The result is a reduction of 1.4 million pounds of CO2 as well as less community noise and emissions."

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Painter Bill Pearson carefully sprays chrome-free primer on the 777-300ER that was delivered to Air New Zealand in November 2011.

Flight planning efficiency also improved. Reducing fuel loads lowers airplane weight, which improves fuel economy. Through careful pre-planning, flight crews have reduced flight times. Overall, the flight-planning initiatives saved a total of 193,155 gallons (730,584 liters) of jet fuel annually.

Nine of the environmental initiatives are now implemented on all 777 airplanes delivered. Use of chrome-free primer is optional. Air New Zealand will use chrome-free primer on future 777-300ER deliveries.

All of these actions are in keeping with the 777 program's mission of market-driven design, ensuring the airplane responds to customer needs. Boeing hopes to continue to show airline customers how new airplanes can take environmental efficiency even further.