EcoJet is Bombardier’s research platform that aims to develop technology to reduce aircraft emissions by combining advanced aerodynamics and improved propulsion.

Last May, the Quebec company completed the first phase of flight tests with a model aircraft with an integrated wing and fuselage. In simple terms, rather than relying on a cylindrical fuselage (aircraft body) below which the wing hangs, the new prototype harmonizes the shape of the fuselage with that of the wings.

The result is a decrease in fuel consumption thanks to an increase in lift (ability of the wings to keep the plane in flight) and a reduction in drag (friction of the device with the air).

According to Benoît Breault, director of research and technology at Bombardier, the new design gives more space to the wings compared to the fuselage. “The wings are extremely aerodynamically efficient and the fuselage is horribly inefficient! The new shape therefore offers less fuselage and more wings. »

The impact of this new design is such that the director of research and technology speaks of a revolution for Bombardier.

In addition to aerodynamics, Bombardier is evaluating the energy best suited to achieve efficient and responsible aviation, including hybrid, electric, hydrogen combustion and hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.

However, it is too early to determine which will win the race or to imagine a plane without fuel today. “The batteries available at the moment cannot provide enough power for the weight of the planes and the distances to be flown,” explains Benoît Breault.

At the same time, the company is already working on a second aircraft with an integrated fuselage of twice the size.

With a wingspan of approximately five meters in width at the wings, the new aircraft will provide even more accurate flight data representative of real flight conditions.

Moreover, the device does not need a driver. This novelty therefore allows Bombardier for the first time to test its autonomy algorithms on much more advanced automatic navigation functions which would in particular reduce the workload in the cockpit.

For example, some aircraft in the industry currently use certified automatic landing systems, which allow them to land on their own, but do not have the ability to execute takeoffs autonomously. The new scale model will therefore make it possible to test these procedures which could be envisaged in the aviation of tomorrow.

For Benoît Breault, the company is literally writing the future of aeronautical technologies: “Today, Bombardier planes can only be operated with two pilots. There is a near future where the aircraft will be much more autonomous and can be operated with a single pilot. And if we project ourselves into a much more distant future, there may one day be unmanned aircraft. We therefore allow ourselves today to test these algorithms. »