Boeing and KLM Teaming Up to Improve Aircraft Efficiency

Boeing and KLM announced yesterday that they will be working together to implement some of Boeing’s latest technologies aimed at improving the efficiency, and lowering the environmental impact, of an aircraft’s flight.  One of the aspects that is becoming increasingly more common is the use of bio-fuels to augment the normal fuel load.  In this case they will be using refined cooking oil as fuel in their ongoing effort to create alternative fuel sources that don’t compete with food, water, or land resources.

Bio-fuels are awesome, and something that we should continue to pursue.  If we continue to look we will ultimately find a breakthrough that could make a real dent in the fuel issues that are present throughout the world.

What I find to be even cooler is the new technology that Boeing is testing.  They call it their Optimal Flight Program.

Planes have been essentially flying themselves through auto-pilot systems for a very long time.  Now Boeing is working to make the planes even smarter by integrating performance data with the flight plan to allow for real-time adjustments reducing the workload on the crew, and improving the efficiency of the aircraft.

As part of that integration, the software will analyze aircraft performance, weather, and other factors to recommend ideal speed variances, and provide more accurate timing predictions.  More accuracy in the data will provide or more efficiency not only in the aircraft, but in the air traffic system as a whole.

After the 26 planned flights take place, Boeing will be working with their partners, TU Delft (Delft University of Technology), John F. Kennedy International Airport, Gander, Shanwick, NATS Domestic and Schiphol Group, to develop new recommended practices and procedures to spread these successes to other users.

It is amazing to me how interwoven the industry is becoming.  Aircraft manufacturers are not just focused on building planes.  They are actively pursuing research that will improve the system as a whole.  Airports, and other partners are teaming up with airlines and aircraft manufacturers to do their part as well.

While the aviation industry is pretty well established in much of the western world, this new technology, and joint effort will become increasingly important in nations where aviation is just starting to takeoff like, Asia and the Pacific Rim, where they simply don’t have the existing infrastructure.

In will be interesting to see the results of this joint venture, and what other technologies and procedures will be developed because of it.

What other joint ventures would you like to see take place?  In what areas do we need to see these companies team up to create meaningful improvements?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.