Boeing Frontiers
May 2002 
Volume 01, Issue 01 
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Commercial Airplanes

Meet the airplane of tomorrow—today

Boeing Technology Demonstrator showcases emerging technologies


 The flight deck aboard the Technology Demonstrator aircraftA new breed of airplane has been soaring through the skies over Washington's Puget Sound, demonstrating to customers and the public Boeing's commitment to offering technology that enhances aviation safety and efficiency.

The plane is the Boeing Technology Demonstrator, a Next-Generation 737-900 fitted with new, cutting-edge navigational and flight deck safety features. It's designed to showcase advanced technologies unmatched in commercial aviation today and that tomorrow could become the industry standard.

The Boeing Technology Demonstrator airplane shows Boeing's leadership in bringing aircraft to market with leading-edge technologies that enhance safety and efficiency, said Hank Queen, vice president of Engineering and Product Integrity for Commercial Airplanes. The airplane "is a forum to evaluate these benefits for our customers and the flying public," he said.

The technologies—nine in all—are provided by Boeing internal suppliers, including the Electronics Responsibility Center/Commercial Avionics Systems and Jeppesen, and by external suppliers and partners. Together they demonstrate Boeing's determination to create airplanes that reduce noise, enhance safety, decrease flight delays, and improve the ease of operation and efficiency of pilots in the flight deck.

"highway in the sky"Many of the new technologies will be offered as options on the 737 within the next 18 months. The company eventually intends to offer them to 717, 747, 757, 767 and 777 customers as well, based on market interest and model development plans.

In addition, Commercial Airplanes intends to provide these features as aftermarket retrofits through its Commercial Aviation Services organization. Offerings will be based on the airplane model, customer interest and cost-effectiveness of a feature-specific retrofit, Queen said.

The availability of Boeing Technology Demonstrator products varies depending upon the technology. For example, the Quiet Climb System and Head-Up Display are currently available on the Next-Generation 737. The Vertical Situation Display, GPS Landing System, Integrated Approach Navigation, and Navigation Performance Scales are now being certified for the 737 family of airplanes. Boeing expects them to be available on the 737 between third quarter 2002 and late 2003.

The remaining features, Surface Guidance System, Enhanced Vision System, and Synthetic Vision System, are in early stages, and Boeing is not yet committed to having them certified and implemented, Queen said.

The Technology Demonstrator Aircraft also is on the cutting edge in relationship building. A shared investment on this flight test project has enabled Boeing to work closely, from an early stage, with key technology developers such as Jeppesen, Rockwell Collins, Smiths, Honeywell, CMC Electronics and Max-Viz. Working together, the team is demonstrating and evaluating new flight deck technologies for airlines and regulatory agencies in a real-world, commercial aviation environment.

As these technologies become operational, they will help achieve industry and government goals of making aviation even safer, while simultaneously increasing airport and airspace capacity and improving airline and airport efficiency.

These are some of the technologies on board the technology demonstrator airplane:

Automatically and consistently reduces engine thrust over noise-sensitive areas, reducing community noise and pilot workload during takeoff. Reductions depend on weight and other takeoff conditions. QCS may allow for increases in passengers and cargo as airlines can be assured of staying below airport noise limits.

Displays a side view of the airplane's flight path to the flight crew. It enhances safety by showing the airplane's current and predicted flight path relative to terrain. Additionally, it helps the pilot determine a stable and appropriate glide path during approach and landing.

Allows the airplane to navigate through a much narrower airspace envelope with greater accuracy. This can help minimize flight delays and increase airspace capacity.

An enhancement to an approach capability, making the pilot interface and procedures very similar to existing approaches. By allowing a common operational approach procedure, this feature minimizes pilot workload and training, reducing 18 separate approach procedures to one.

A highly accurate and reliable satellite-based landing system that will open additional airports and runways to regular service during most weather conditions. This system combines ground-based components with a multi-mode receiver on board the aircraft.

Provides "eye-level" critical flight and safety information to the pilot and can reduce takeoff and landing visibility minimums, which may mean fewer delays.

An emerging technology under evaluation that improves taxi safety and airport efficiency during poor visibility and darkness, reducing the risk of runway- and taxi-related incidents.

Uses thermal (infrared) imaging, which allows pilots to see objects at night and in some inclement weather, enhancing safety and potentially reducing delays.

An emerging technology under evaluation that provides a computer-generated view of the outside world, synthesinzing easy-to-follow cues for takeoff, landing, and taxi guidance.

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