WheelTug improves turnaround times and ground operations at airports

With passenger traffic forecast to double over the next two decades, airports that operate more efficiently will attract more traffic (both as a hub and a destination). Cue the aviation electric taxi innovator, WheelTug, which showcased its cutting-edge e-taxi technology at this year’s Farnborough Airshow.

More than 20 airlines have already signed with WheelTug, which is currently in the certification process and is expected to enter service, initially for Boeing 737NG aircraft, by 2019. flydubai is the latest carrier to sign up to the innovative solution.

This week the Dubai-based carrier signed up to reserve 60 WheelTug systems for its fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 and Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft. It hopes that the innovative system will help make its ground operations more efficient, cost effective and reliable.

“With its innovative use of technology, we look forward to seeing what efficiencies WheelTug’s systems can bring to flydubai’s fleet of 61 aircraft,” said Mick Hills, senior vice president engineering and maintenance, flydubai.

The cutting-edge system uses high-performance electric motors, installed in the nose gear wheels of an aircraft to provide full mobility and enhanced autonomy while on the ground. It enables pilot-controlled forward and reverse movement in gate and terminal areas without tractors or jet engines. Currently around 2% of pushbacks take more than 13 minutes, the effects of which can quickly cascade system-wide. Aircraft fitted with WheelTug technology can reliably push back in 60 seconds without the need of a tractor.

A WheelTug spokesperson explains that one of the advantages for airports is that the retrofit system is leased to airlines/ operators on a savings per minute basis, so there is no charge to airports. It also enables airports to motivate and incentivise airlines to adopt e-taxi systems.

Plus, it is beneficial in terms of its environmental impact. It reduces ground noise, improving the environment for both passengers and neighbours and reduces emissions. And of course, when it comes to the all important passenger experience, flights that leave when scheduled, push back quickly and arrive on time will keep passengers happy and coming back for more.

Written by: Kimberley Young

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