Huge volumes of jet fuel are used by aircraft taxiing on the ground, creating significant noise and air pollution. A French-American partnership has come up with a possible solution, in the form of electric motors for aircraft wheels.
A dual French-American partnership gave its first demonstration of an electric taxiing system for passenger aircraft at the Paris Air show this week, an innovation aimed at reducing noise and air pollution at airports.
Developed by French company Safran and US partner Honeywell, the “Electric Green Taxiing System” (EGTS) will also help airlines cut their fuel bills, as up to five percent of an aircraft’s load of kerosene is used while the plane is still on the ground.
The system is being demonstrated at the Paris Air Show on an Airbus A320, which taxis with virtually no noise, and consists of an electric motor powering the aircraft’s under-wing wheels.
EGTS, in development since 2011, allows the pilot to cut the engines as soon as the plane has landed, drastically cutting noise and fuel pollution at airports.
Electronic taxiing brings also brings significant economic benefits to airlines at a time when jet fuel prices are at an all-time high.
By using EGTS, kerosene consumption drops from 600kg per hour to virtually nothing while the aircraft is on the tarmac, which in turn lightens the aircraft’s fuel load by 300kg, reducing the amount of fuel needed to keep the plane in the air.
In total, Safran and Honeywell estimate that the system will shave up to five percent off the fuel bill for a passenger flight.
A five billion dollar market
EGTS is of particular interest to airlines because average taxiing time is increasing by around five percent a year, with aircraft on the ground running their engines for up to half an hour while waiting to take off.
This is a particular issue for short-haul carriers for whom a half-hour wait on the runway is disproportionately long compared to actual flight time.
Which is why Safran-Honeywell is targeting the types of aircraft used by short-haul airlines, such as the Airbus A320 they are using to showcase EGTS this week.
The two companies anticipate marketing the system from 2016, and hope to equip some 2,600 aircraft with AGTS.
The market would be worth upwards of 5 billion USD (3.7 billion euros), according to US management consultancy Kurt Salmon, and Safran-Honeywell are not the only manufacturers hoping for a slice of the pie.
Air France’s sister carrier KLM is looking at “Wheeltug”, an electric motor powering aircraft’s front wheels, rather than the two under the wing.
And Israel Industry Aerospace is developing “Taxibot” in partnership with Airbus, an aircraft tractor that is remotely controlled by the pilot and has the advantage of not adding any weight to the plane itself.
Date created : 2013-06-18