Safran and Honeywell have designed an electric green taxiing system or EGTS that allows jets to taxi on the ground without having to use their engines. Instead the planes would use electric motors attached to each wheel and run by the plane’s auxiliary power unit. The electrical system should provide better maneuvering control to pilots when docking at a gate and should save four percent of energy costs.
Safran Group and Honeywell announced that easyJet will begin testing the EGTS in 2013. The companies hope to begin providing the system for new airplanes and as a retrofit by 2016. As the UK’s biggest airline with 604 routes to 130 airports in 29 countries, easyJet will be able to give the system a thorough testing.
Due to the high frequency and short sector lengths of easyJet’s operations, around 4% of total fuel consumed annually is used when the airline’s aircraft are taxiing. easyJet’s aircraft average 20 minutes of taxi time per flight – the equivalent of 3.5 million miles a year.
The tests will make sure that the fuel savings are actually realized and will determine other benefits of the system.
Each wheel is fitted not only with a motor but also with an electromechanical actuator and unique power electronics and system controllers. One benefits of this new system will be the increased maneuverability and control over speed, direction and braking of the plane as it approaches the docking area. Currently planes are tugged into the docks. The new system should reduce or eliminate the need for the final assist.
Cutting down on fuel costs isn’t the only reason to look for innovative ways to incorporate electrical systems and and reduce fuel use. The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) went into effect on January 1 of this year. That scheme requires airlines using European airports to account for their greenhouse gases. The idea behind the EU ETS is to speed up the adoption of green technologies, like this one, in aviation.
Although The New York Times has reported that the EU is willing to suspend some portions of the directive that doesn’t mean that this type of innovation will cease. One of the conditions of suspending portions of the ETS is that a global system would need to be developed that would go beyond the ETS in achieving reductions of green house gases in aviation.
While the four percent reduction in fuel might not seem like a lot, it is one step of many, like the combination of weight reduction and more powerful batteries increases the distance that an electric vehicle can travel. Safran, Honeywell and easyJet are testing a system that with the addition of other innovations like jet biofuels will reduce greenhouse gas emission and make breathing easier.Tags: easyJet, EGTS, European Union, Honeywell, Safran