DUSSELDORF, GERMANY--(Marketwired - Jul 15, 2014) - WheelTug plc announced today that it has executed a letter of intent with airberlin technik GmbH to develop a Pilot Ground Situation Awareness System (PGSA) for narrow body aircraft.
The WheelTug system uses high-performance electric motors, installed in the nose gear wheels of an aircraft, to provide full mobility while on the ground without the use of the aircraft's jet engines or tugs.
The PGSA, which will be offered by WheelTug to its airline customers as an option in the WheelTug lease, will include:
- Cameras for detecting wing tips and rear view
- Low-visibility capability to allow for operation at night and during inclement weather
- Radar sensors to locate foreign objects underneath or close to the aircraft
- Visual imagery via EFB/PFD/tablet pc in the cockpit for the pilots
- Optional output to a data recorder and/or to in-flight entertainment systems, e.g., to allow passengers to observe ground operations using their seatback monitors.
The system is being designed, developed and certificated by airberlin technik in conjunction with FTI Engineering Network GmbH, which has specific camera hardware and software expertise. The PGSA will be developed and certificated under its own Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) in parallel with the WheelTug. Planned as a retrofit system, it is timed to enter service alongside the WheelTug systems themselves.
"The new PGSA system will be pointing the way to an improved economic and ecological future for aircraft ground operations. Therefore we are very proud to be a part of this project," said Werner Rothenbächer, Senior Vice President Technical airberlin.
"With our longtime experience in producing video based aircraft security systems we aim to make aircraft operation safer and more efficient. It is a pleasure to work in cooperation with airberlin technik and provide a video based awareness system for this WheelTug project." Michael Weisel, CEO FTI.
"We are delighted to be working with airberlin technik, who join airberlin in being involved with the WheelTug system," said WheelTug CEO Isaiah Cox. "The Situational Awareness system will make a substantial difference to our customers by reducing the need for ground personnel during gate operations. This in turn will speed up turnarounds as a whole, and reduce ground delays that are the source of the vast majority of delays."
There are current pushback procedures, using visual signals, that WheelTug can rely on for operation. The PGSA will, in turn, enable improved operational efficiency. WheelTug expects that the two systems will work together to improve apron safety and reduce ground damage to aircraft. In combination with the WheelTug's Twist and Twirl maneuvers, the PGSA is expected to unlock additional savings for the airlines and airports. Overall, WheelTug and PGSA are expected to enhance aircraft and fleet utilization, enabling safer and more effective use of aircraft.
Demonstration of the PGSA is expected next year at an Entry Into Service conference being designed to develop and adopt WheelTug ground operating procedures for airlines and airports around the world.
About airberlin technik
airberlin technik GmbH (abt) is the aviation technology division within the airberlin group and the main provider of MRO services for the group's aircraft. Its customers include not only the airberlin group, but also a steadily growing number of major German and international airlines. airberlin technik GmbH operates under license from the LBA (German Federal Aviation Office) and has received EASA Part 145 certification. The most recent milestone in the company's history was the merger of AB aviation technology operations under the umbrella of airberlin technik GmbH on April 1 2011.
About WheelTug plc
WheelTug plc is developing the WheelTug aircraft electric drive system, and is based in Gibraltar. A full listing of WheelTug partner companies and airline customers is on the company's website at http://www.wheeltug.gi.