Boeing and NASA conducting new study on impacts of aviation contrails

Nov. 6, 2023
Boeing and NASA are joining forces to ensure the future of aviation is sustainable. Researchers are performing high-altitude experiments focusing on contrails, Kristin Goodwillie reports for

EVERETT, Wash. - Scientists with Boeing and NASA are working together to learn more about the effects of aviation contrails on the environment, Kristin Goodwillie reports for Continue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

6 November 2023 - "Seventeen different instruments that we used to sample emissions from the lead aircraft," said Nicki Reid who is the Operations Engineer DC-8 mission manager for NASA's Airborne Science Program.

"We're flying through the same air with one fuel and then we're turning around and coming back with a different fuel and are seeing a dramatic difference," said Richard Moore who is the principal investigator for the NASA-Boeing ecoDemonstrator Emissions Flight Test.

Boeing's second ecoDemonstrator Explorer, a 737-10 destined for United Airlines, flew with 100% SAF and conventional jet fuel in separate tanks and alternate fuels during testing. NASA's DC-8 Airborne Science Lab will flew behind the commercial jet and measured emissions produced by each type of fuel and contrail ice particles. NASA satellites captured images of contrail formation as part of the testing.

The researchers aim to understand how advanced fuels, engine combustor designs and other technologies may reduce atmospheric warming. For example, tests will assess how SAF affects the characteristics of contrails, the persistent condensation trails produced when airplanes fly through cold, humid air. While their full impact is not yet understood, some research has suggested certain contrails can trap heat in the atmosphere.

Related: Boeing to assess 19 technologies on its demonstrator aircraft

Related: Boeing doubles its SAF purchase from 2022 to fuel commercial operations

Related: American Airlines participates in AI-powered contrail avoidance study

Jamie Whitney, Senior Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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