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JAXA clear-air turbulence detection system
to be on Boeing ecoDemonstrator 2018

August 2, 2017 (JST)

National Research and Development Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is to work with the Boeing Company to flight test its onboard clear-air turbulence detection system with ecoDemonstrator program 2018.

The system to be flight tested on ecoDemonstrator 2018 is originally developed through JAXA SafeAvio project* that aimed at establishing safety avionics technology to halve aircraft accidents caused by clear-air turbulence. JAXA had successfully developed the onboard system that weighs only 83.7 kilogram, which is equivalent to a passenger with one baggage, but boosts the world’s longest range of 17.5 kilometers in detecting clear-air turbulence ahead of the aircraft. A 17.5 kilometer means roughly seventy seconds for cruising aircraft, during which pilots can turn on the seatbelt sign to make advanced warning for passengers and crews to prepare for hazardous shaking. The system can potentially reduce turbulence-caused injuries by sixty percent. This innovative solution is highly regarded and selected as one of technologies to be tested on the ecoDemonstrator program 2018.

The ecoDemonstrator program will provide JAXA with a great opportunity to evaluate the system from aircraft manufacturers' point of view. In collaboration with the Boeing, JAXA would like to demonstrate how the clear-air turbulence detection system can be fitted in to large commercial aircraft. It will also help identify any technical hurdles to be tackled with to make the system viable as a practical application. The ecoDemonstrator program will help promote the effectiveness of the system on commercial aircraft among airline companies and manufacturers, which will lead to bring the importance and value of the system to the attention of standardization and reguratory organizations. JAXA is thus expecting to accelerate the standardization process of the system through the participation to the ecoDemonstrator program.

JAXA will continue making further R&D efforts in developing safety technology to prevent aircraft accidents.

  • *SafeAvio: R&D of onboard safety avionics technology to prevent turbulence-induced aircraft accidents


The Boeing ecoDemonstrator Program

Boeing uses ecoDemonstrator program to test various new technologies that can improve safety and environmental performance of commercial aircraft. Since the launch of the progam in 2012 that tested fifteen technologies on an American Airlines 737-800, the ecoDemonstrator program has tested more than sixty new technologies to date.

ecoDemonstrator Program 2018

Using new FedEx-owned 777 Freighter as a flying test bed, more than thirty technologies, including JAXA’s onboard clear-air turbulence detection system, are to be tested as part ofthe ecoDemonstrator Program 2018. Other technologies onboard the 2018 ecoDemonstrator includes those that will enhance flight safety, that makes flight path more efficient, and that improve fuel efficiency.

Using new FedEx-owned 777 Freighter

Photo: by courtesy of Boeing