Etihad’s ecoDemonstrator Dreamliner begins life as a passenger jet

Travellers flying to Amsterdam, London, Paris and Chennai this Christmas get the chance to travel on the former 787 flying testbed

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Etihad has officially inaugurated its former ecoDemonstrator Boeing 787 into service.

The brand-new Dreamliner officially joined the national airline of the UAE's pool of 787s on Tuesday at a ceremony at Abu Dhabi International Airport. This follows the aircraft's stint in the US, participating in Boeing's ecoDemonstrator programme.

The 787-10 was used as a flying testbed in partnership with Boeing, Nasa and French aircraft engine-maker Safran. It trialled aviation technology that could help make commercial flying safer and more sustainable.

The brand-new Boeing 787-10 was used as a flying testbed to trial technologies that can help make commercial flying safer and more sustainable. Courtesy Etihad 

During the programme, Etihad's new Dreamliner was kitted out with complex testing equipment including more than 1,2000 microphones.

It flew in the skies above Montana, Washington and South Carolina, testing aircraft noise levels and trialling new sanitising technology designed to help airlines combat Covid-19.

"As the first 787-10 to take part in the ecoDemonstrator programme, this very special aircraft stands testament to the innovation and drive for sustainable aviation that forms a core element of Etihad's values and long-term vision," said Tony Douglas, group chief executive at Etihad Aviation Group.

“Etihad’s partnership with Boeing, and participation in the programme with Nasa and Safran, is one the UAE’s national airline is incredibly proud of,” he added.

Europe, India and Vietnam on the schedule

Shoppers and pedestrians pass under the Christmas lights on Regents Street in central London on December 14, 2020, as it is announced that Greater London will be moved into Tier 3 from Tier 2 from Wednesday December 16. London is to move into the highest level of anti-virus restrictions, the health minister announced Monday. The British capital from Wednesday will go into "tier three" restrictions, which force the closure of theatres and ban people from eating out at restaurants or drinking in pubs, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament.
 / AFP / Tolga Akmen

Travellers who have plans to fly with Etihad in the lead-up to Christmas may find themselves boarding the former testbed jet. To know if you're travelling on it, keep an eye out for the jet's commemorative plaque, which highlights its contribution to sustainability and the original Boeing and ecoDemonstrator logos.

The Dreamliner's livery has also been updated with the words ‘From Abu Dhabi for the World’, a reimagined version of Etihad's tagline.

Beginning commercial life with a passenger flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on Tuesday, December 15, the Dreamliner looks set to have a busy first week on the job.

It's scheduled to fly daily to London Heathrow from Wednesday to Saturday, December 16 to 19, before operating as a cargo-only flight to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. On Wednesday, December 23, it will fly to and from Chennai, before operating return passenger services to Amsterdam on Christmas Eve, and Paris on Christmas Day.

Registered as aircraft A6-BMI, the jet is Etihad’s 39th 787 Dreamliner, making the airline one of the world’s largest operators of the technologically advanced aircraft type.

The brand-new Boeing 787-10 was delivered to Abu Dhabi from Charleston, US, in November. Its delivery flight path was optimised to allow Etihad to cut fuel burn by more than a tonne and CO2 emissions by almost four tonnes.