The WheelTug aircraft drive system uses high-performance electric motors, installed in the nose gear wheels of an aircraft, to provide full mobility while on the ground, replacing tug vehicles and the use of jet engines for pushback and taxi.
WheelTug plc announced that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Aircraft Wheel & Brake Division of Parker Aerospace, whereby Parker will be the exclusive supplier of wheels for the WheelTug system on the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737NG families of aircraft.
Parker and WheelTug have been collaborating on this project for some months, and look forward to bringing the WheelTug system to market.
"Parker is widely respected and highly capable," says Isaiah Cox, CEO of WheelTug plc. "We look forward to working with them on this exciting project, and value the technical expertise they bring to WheelTug's development. Many of the current development partners, such as ICE Corp, have worked with Parker for many years on aircraft projects and look forward to applying their considerable aviation prowess to this program."
Michael Walasinski, Managing Director of Aircraft Wheel and Brake, says, "We have worked with WheelTug's team on this project for most of 2012. We are excited about the scale of the business opportunity, the technical expertise of the WheelTug partners, and our positive working relationship."
According to a release, the WheelTug aircraft drive system uses high-performance electric motors, installed in the nose gear wheels of an aircraft, to provide full mobility while on the ground, replacing tug vehicles and the use of jet engines for pushback and taxi.
Current commercial aviation practice utilizes a tug for aircraft gate pushback, while forward taxi is powered by the aircraft's engines. Typically, a taxiing Boeing 737 burns 24 to 27 pounds of fuel per minute. The WheelTug uses only four pounds of fuel per minute because it is electrically powered by the aircraft's auxiliary power unit (APU). This represents an 80 percent reduction in ground operation fuel consumption.
In addition to lower ground operation fuel consumption, other benefits of the WheelTug aircraft drive systems include: substantially reduced carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, increased safety and flexibility of operations, faster turnaround times, reduced engine wear and repair costs, and decreased noise pollution. WheelTug estimates the total savings at over US$500,000 per aircraft per year. WheelTug systems will be offered to airlines entirely on a lease, or power-by-the-hour model, so that the systems can be installed and operated on aircraft without any capital expenditure on the part of airline customers.
Other WheelTug partner companies include Gables Engineering, Resource Group, Co-Operative Industries, ICE Corp., Endeavor Analysis, and Dynetic Systems.
WheelTug plc successfully installed and tested the first in-wheel WheelTug system in Prague in June.
Video from the tests:
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