WheelTug testing at Prague Airport using a Germania 737-700 in June, 2012. Yes, it’s moving!
You may have read my recent report on the Honeywell/Safran Electric Ground Taxi System, or EGTS. But as we’ve seen countless times with many technologies, there’s rarely just one solution to a challenge. We’ve had the 707 & DC-8 duo, L-1011 & DC-10s, 737 & A320s, PCs & Macs, iThingys & Everything Else… you get the idea. Interesting, though, that the market usually settles down to 2 options. So it should be no surprise that there’s another E-Taxi system, one that takes a different approach to meeting the same objectives of saving fuel, time, and other operational costs.
Gibraltar-based WheelTug decided to figure out a way to power the nose gear in their E-Taxi solution, and not the main gear. Their reasons? Easier and quicker installation; no interference with braking and anti-skid systems; shorter cable runs to the equipment bay under the cockpit; and it’s lighter, on the single nose gear rather than two main gear. But there isn’t much space available on the nose gear and in the wheel well. To make it all work, WheelTug looked to an old idea updated with new technology – the “wheel-hub” electric motor.
No, this A320 isn’t parked. It’s taxiing without the engines running. Check out the video after the break.
Photo: Benoît Vallet/Safran
Airlines are doing everything they can to reduce their fuel costs. You may have taken an airline flight recently where the crew taxied to or from the runway on one engine. Or you’ve noticed that the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) isn’t running when a plane is at the gate. Sometimes, if possible, instead of running the APU the plane can be plugged into “ground power,” getting it’s juice through a big extension cord from the terminal.
Airlines are also playing with new approach procedures that smooth out the descent and path to the runway, allowing crews to bring the power back to near-idle thrust and pretty well glide most of the way to the threshold and saving on fuel. The goal is to try and do anything to save fuel while keeping passengers safe.
Honeywell and Paris-based Safran Groupe have come up with some nifty new technology that could save airlines hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in fuel costs for each aircraft. It’s called the “Electric Green Taxi System” or EGTS, and it was recently demo’d at the Paris Air Show.