How an old Air New Zealand plane could help make flying greener

An old Air New Zealand jet has been transformed into a flying eco tester by Boeing – with the aim of making aviation more sustainable.

The 20-year-old 777-200ER will be used to test 30 new technologies.

Some of the tests include a water and weight conservation system, which will see sink water used to flush toilets.

Other technologies being investigated include 3D printing of parts to make planes lighter and more environmental.

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In collaboration with NASA, “SMART vortex generators” will also be tested, which are small vertical fins on the wing to improve efficiency during takeoff and landing.

The plane will be powered with a 30/70 blend of sustainable aviation fuel and conventional jet fuel.

New Zealand and Singapore are keen to set up ‘green lane’ flights between the two countries that partially use sustainable aviation fuel.

The 777-200ER will be used to test 30 technologies.

Boeing/Supplied

The 777-200ER will be used to test 30 technologies.

The ecoDemonstrator program started ten years ago, using several planes to test more than 200 technologies. About a third of tested technologies make it onto Boeing planes, including winglets on the 737 MAX, and touchscreens now on the 777.

This latest demonstrator started its life with Singapore Airlines in 2002, before flying under a lease arrangement for Air New Zealand in 2018.

The 777-200ER was used by Air New Zealand for around a year.

Boeing/Supplied

The 777-200ER was used by Air New Zealand for around a year.

The aircraft was used by the airline to temporarily relieve pressure in the wake of the 787 engine crisis, which saw Air New Zealand cancel hundreds of flights over two years due to issues with its Rolls-Royce engines.

In 2019 the aircraft moved to Surinam Airways, before eventually returning to Boeing.

The aircraft will complete six months of testing on the ground and in the air.

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