Prague Airport Supports Development of Electric Aircraft Drive System

Development of a new technology enables aircraft to use on-board electric motors to taxi between terminal gates and runways.


Prague-Ruzyne Airport said that it has become the world's first airport to support development of a new technology by WheelTug enabling aircraft to use on-board electric motors to taxi between terminal gates and runways.

According to WheelTug, the company's system is expected to reduce aircraft emissions, fuel consumption, and noise at airports, and to improve safety, airlines' schedule reliability, and both airline and customer convenience at airports.

Prague-Ruzyne International Airport, named the Best Airport in Central and Eastern Europe will become WheelTug's Flagship Airport in Europe and will be a world leader in encouraging cleaner air, less noise, and greater fuel efficiency, safety and operating efficiency within airports. The WheelTug system is projected to reduce aircraft taxi-mode fuel consumption and CO2 emissions both by 66 percent, and to reduce hydrocarbon emissions by 75 percent per flight cycle.

An agreement between Letiste Praha, operator of the Prague Airport, and WheelTug, developer of the WheelTug system, noted that Prague Airport will actively assist WheelTug with development support during testing and certification.

"This support includes necessary airport assistance, as well as facilitation of smooth co-operation between WheelTug and other organizations at the airport including airport handling services and air navigation service provider," said Jiri Pos, Member of the Board and Executive Director of Aviation, Operations and Property Management at Prague Airport and he added: "The team of Prague Airport Consulting will also be working with WheelTug to adapt existing operating procedures, checklists, and operating regulations to achieve maximum benefit from WheelTug systems at Prague and at other airports."

"Prague Airport is a wonderful addition to the WheelTug team," said Isaiah Cox, WheelTug's CEO. "As we move development from initial tests through to certification and product launch, we need to work closely with an airport to ensure that the WheelTug system is compatible with, and optimized for, airport operations. We are gratified to be working with such a forward-thinking and environmentally responsible airport as Prague."

WheelTug is a concept in aircraft ground operations. This patented electric drive system incorporates high performance electric motors installed in the nosewheels of aircraft, providing full mobility on the ground without the use of the aircraft engines or tugs for gate pushback and taxi operations. WheelTug enables aircraft to be driven without using their engines from the terminal gate to the runway, and from runway exit to the gate, upon landing. The resulting improvements in efficiency, flexibility, fuel savings, reduced engine damage and CO2 emissions yield projected savings of more than $500,000 per aircraft per year.

The first systems are being developed for the Boeing 737NG aircraft family, and are expected to receive government certification by early 2012; systems for other aircraft models will follow.

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