Innovations On The Ground

July 10, 2012
Alternatives for moving and refueling aircraft make the news.

As luck would have it, three stories came our way more or less at the same time touting alternative ways to move planes from gate to runway and other points between. All are different, in particular the TaxiBot system that we got a first-hand look at last year at inter airport.

But in one fashion or another, the systems from TaxiBot, WheelTug and the GreenTaxi system co-developed by Crane Co. and L-3 all look to save money and the environment by reducing fuel consumption, lowering ground operation costs and decreasing emissions.

Remarks from a WheelTug exec also promises his company’s system will “increase safety and flexibility of airport operations; provide airlines faster turnaround times, reduce engine wear and repair costs; and substantially decrease airport noise pollution."

Of the three systems, TaxiBot’s attempt at greener taxiing dates the earliest with its tractor designed to let the pilot control the vehicle right from the cockpit. It also has marketing muscle behind it already with GSE manufacturer TLD.

We also highlight another story in this week’s e-newsletter on the interesting news that Rampmaster definitely can save refueler’s fuel while refueling. No that’s not a tongue twister.

We first had a look at the company’s patented Engine Management System at this year’s Cygnus Aviation Expo. What we remember seeing the most was what wasn’t on the truck anymore. Essentially, a module does away with the need for inefficient pumping that traditionally required the truck’s engine to run at a constant RPM during the refueling process.

Now comes official word that the well-known West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions confirms through its own independent testing that Rampmaster’s EMS does exactly what’s promised - a huge fuel savings of as much as 78 percent on the ramp.

A GSW salute to all this good news and we look forward to receiving more.

In other news, you don’t need me to tell you how hot it’s been through much of the country for the last two weeks. How hot was it? This hot.