Together with a powerful team of partners Lufthansa Technik successfully tested a new way of ground operations: electric motors installed on an Airbus A320 aircraft was subject to close scrutiny during one week. For the first time ever electric motors were installed on the main landing gear of a commercial aircraft taking over all necessary movements of an aircraft on ground. L-3 Communications, Fraport, as well as Lufthansa German Airlines and Lufthansa Technik, with Airbus support, teamed up to jointly test the technology demonstrator which might lead to a new way for aircraft to taxi.
The system integrates electric wheel drives into the main landing gear to propel the aircraft during ground operations. The wheel-drive technology leverages its industry-leading electric motors' continuous torque and power density to propel the aircraft.
In the first three days of the test period high-performance electric motors built by L-3 were installed into the main landing gear of an Airbus A320 aircraft. The necessary modifications included the installation of an interface in the cockpit as well as further modifications such as the power supply through the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) or the integration of a cooling system.
During five days the e-taxi demonstrator was then tested under real conditions: typical duty cycles which include the pushback of an aircraft as well as taxiing in and out were carried out several times. This test period allowed the partners to collect a massive amount of data. In the aftermath the partners will evaluate collaboratively the data to gain further insights in the feasibility of the e-taxi demonstrator. On this basis the appropriate conclusions can be drawn whether the development of a prototype is reasonable.
"As a leading provider of services for the aviation industry we know all obstacles of reliable line maintenance. We constantly work on improving our processes and are always looking for innovative enhancements, to reduce, for example, turnaround times or fuel burn.
This is why we gladly accepted L3's offer to team up for testing the e-taxi demonstrator. Together with Fraport and the support of Airbus we build a strong team of experts allowing for a 360-degree-angle to thoroughly scrutinize the new way of taxiing," said Robert Nyenhuis, Vice President Aircraft Engineering at Lufthansa Technik. "Our common goal is to further develop the e-taxi demonstrator. Thanks to the testing we now have the data set to make sound decisions."
"This revolutionary e-taxi system utilizes green technology to improve aircraft autonomy and provide more environmentally friendly ground operations," said Joe Hoffman, Vice President and Executive Program Manager of L-3's team. "Studies demonstrate single aisle airplanes can burn greater than three percent of total mission fuel during ground operations. We are convinced that L-3's GreenTaxi system will provide materially significant economic and environmental benefits to the airplane operators and airport service providers."
Headquartered in New York City, L-3 Communications employs over 63,000 people worldwide and is a prime contractor in C3ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and
Reconnaissance) systems, aircraft modernization and maintenance, and government services. L-3 is also a leading provider of a broad range of electronic systems used on military and commercial platforms. The company reported 2010 sales of $15.7 billion. To learn more about L-3, please visit the company's website at www.L-3com.com.
The entire fleet of 24 A340-600s is scheduled for conversion by 2015.
Lufthansa Technik will now provide technical support for the landing gears, thrust reversers and auxiliary power units (APUs) for the airline's 24-aircraft fleet of modern Airbuses to the end of...