Boeing, JAXA to flight-test technology to improve safety

Boeing (NYSE: BA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will flight-test Long-range Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology next year, the companies said.

This remote-sensing technology could help commercial airplane pilots better detect and avoid weather disturbances to improve flight safety.

Boeing and JAXA have been collaborating on the integration of LIDAR technology into a commercial airplane platform since 2010. The JAXA LIDAR technology offers the potential to accurately measure winds as much as 17.5 kilometers in front of airplanes and provide pilots with sufficient time to take appropriate action to avoid wind shear and clear air turbulence, which does not have any visual cues such as clouds.

This next phase of the JAXA-Boeing LIDAR research collaboration is possible thanks to Boeing´s ecoDemonstrator flight-test research program. In 2018, Boeing and FedEx Express will work together for six weeks to flight-test more than 30 technologies including LIDAR aboard a new FedEx-owned 777 Freighter. FedEx and Boeing are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their products and advancing technology that will improve performance.

The flight demonstration of LIDAR technology will involve emitting pulses of laser light, which will scatter off of small dust and other particulates. Observing the reflected light in segments from the start, the pulse provides measurement of the wind speed at increments all along the direction of the laser.

Since 2012, the ecoDemonstrator program has used a series of flying testbeds to develop and test aviation technologies that enhance safety and environmental performance. The Boeing ecoDemonstrator program plays a key role in the company´s environmental strategy by using flight testing to accelerate new technologies that can reduce emissions and noise, improve airlines´ gate-to-gate efficiency and help meet other environmental goals.