Boeing-Cal Poly Engineering Collaboration Flies High


Kevin Mejia, Boeing Technical Fellow

Russ Westphal, Donald E. Bently Professor, Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering

The Boeing-Cal Poly technical relationship continues into the new decade with a third flight of the Boundary Layer Data System (BLDS) on Boeing’s most recent ecoDemonstrator technology program. During flights conducted in the late summer of 2020 at Boeing’s flight test facility in Glasgow, Montana, the BLDS was deployed to measure pressures on the surface of the wing of an Etihad 787-10 Dreamliner.

The autonomous nature and portability of the BLDS made it a perfect fit for this unique investigation. Since 2008, the Boundary Layer Data System project has involved dozens of Cal Poly students in the development and application of BLDS instruments that provide a unique approach to measuring surface flow parameters during aircraft flight testing.

The 2020 program included the first testing of wireless telemetry of BLDS data for in-flight monitoring of the measurements during each flight. Visualization of the pressure data in real-time enabled the aerodynamicists onboard to better evaluate and accept data from the many test conditions flown each day.  Utilization of the BLDS for in-flight investigations like the ecoDemonstrator program will continue to enable Boeing to transition its environmental and performance improvement technologies from concept to reality.

This Etihad Airways Boeing 787-10 served as the flight test aircraft for Boeing’s 2020 ecoDemonstrator technology program. (Credit: Etihad Airways)

BLDS wireless transmitter (Credit: Boeing)

The Cal Poly College of Engineering understands there has been an enormous amount of turmoil and transition due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we continue offering support to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, we also continue providing critical updates as well as college highlights. Ours is a college full of creative and bright engineers and staff. For more information on COVID-19 visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For more information on how Cal Poly is responding to COVID-19, visit the Cal Poly Coronavirus website Coronavirus website.

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