Honeywell, Safran and Airbus testing electric taxiing for aircraftEnlarge Photo
You know that feeling when you realize you've been missing out on some low-hanging fruit for years?
That could be what the aviation industry is feeling right now, as Airbus shows off its new Electric Green Taxiing System (EGTS) at this year's Paris air show.
The concept, reported by Aviation Week, is so simple you wonder how it's taken this long to appear. Existing aircraft taxi to and from the runway using power from their engines, but EGTS uses electric motors mounted in the main landing gear to cover those duties instead.
The benefits are almost too numerous to count.
Reduction in fuel use is the first, most obvious advantage, and while taxiing uses only a small proportion of the aircraft's fuel compared to the average flight, every gallon saved is a bonus.
There's no need for a tug to push the aircraft back when it can move under its own power (supplied by the aircraft's Auxiliary Power Unit), saving time and money. Brake wear is said to be lower--presumably, the system has regenerative benefits just as it does on electric cars--and there's less chance of foreign object damage to the engines.
Because carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by an estimated 75 and 50 percent respectively, carbon tax liabilities at European airports are also reduced.
The system, developed by Honeywell and Safran and tested on an Airbus A320, is most likely to be used in the mid- to short-haul markets, and could save operators up to $200,000 per year, per aircraft in fuel costs.
Other companies are developing similar systems, among them WheelTug, whose electric taxiing is handled by the nosewheel, rather than the main gear.
The systems are still at the testing stage but more than 50 operators are already interested--and we're already looking forward to our first flight with electric taxiing...
[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]