Schopf Announces Successful Trials of Electric Pushback at Stuttgart Airport

(Ostfildern/Stuttgart, 01/28/2010) At the world’s largest GSE trade fair Inter–airport Europe in early October 2009 SCHOPF Maschinenbau GmbH, one of the leading manufacturers of specialist vehicles for civil and military aviation, launched its new F110 “electric” aircraft tow tractor, among other innovative new developments on display.

In its diesel version the F110 is the market's best-selling aircraft towing tractor in its class, and the electric version should also find a growing market. The F110e was the biggest electrically driven aircraft tow tractor at Munich in the 16 ton weight class. A number of European airports with increasingly stringent environmental protection requirements have already shown great interest.

From a technical point of view the layout of the tractor has been kept as simple as possible in order to meet operator requirements. Power is stored in lead-acid batteries available on the market today, and they will be easily replaceable as and when new technology batteries become available. Battery recharging is carried out by standard battery chargers. The tractor is driven by two electric motors connected directly to the drive axles of the proven four-wheel steering system, thus providing a high degree of efficiency. Infinitely variable speed control is made possible by modern electronics, while the braking and steering functions are hydraulic and the same as the systems used in the existing diesel-driven version.

Successful Trials at Stuttgart Airport

The prototype of the world's largest electric aircraft towing tractor was tested recently at Stuttgart Airport, and the results were extremely positive: "Pushbacks and transport runs went without problems or breakdowns, which is remarkably good for a prototype. Drivers and pilots alike were won over by the gentle starts and acceleration during pushbacks. All scheduled pushbacks, which are normally carried out by diesel-driven SCHOPF tractors, were performed using the E-Tractor." according to Operations Manager Henrik Sickinger.

Naturally, the necessary infrastructure, i.e., electric vehicle charging stations at the airport, must be installed. Battery capacity in the prototype unit was sufficient to run a two-shift operation at Stuttgart Airport. There are also charging systems available on the market that make three-shift operations possible through opportunity charging.

In the coming months, after a further period of adjustments and optimization, SCHOPF's E-Tractor will enter series production, and begin making active contributions to reduced pushback emissions at airports.

Other SCHOPF innovations attracted great interest

And the F110 electric was not the only visitor magnet at the European interairport trade fair in Munich. SCHOPF’s F210, a new, diesel-driven aircraft tractor in the 22- to 32-ton weight class also made its debut. This tractor is ideal for the new Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft generations. The Rofan brand was presented for the first time under the SCHOPF umbrella. SCHOPF ROFAN GmbH is the leading manufacturer of baggage and freight tractors.