Modern passenger planes is very cumbersome and not independent when it comes to ground movements at the airport. Jet engines are highly inefficient for driving on taxiways and absolutely useless in complex and precise ground maneuvers - if you want to fit into the hangar doors or to reverse, the tractor can not do without. Today, however, the production technology of compact and powerful electric motors finally reached a level that allows elegantly solve this problem. Company WheelTug
developed a system of towing aircraft using embedded in the wheel motors. A pair of "tablets", weighing 150 kg, a thickness of 12 cm and a diameter slightly less than half a meter is attached to the front wheels and is powered by the auxiliary power unit of the aircraft.
Thanks to the WheelTug liner is able to maneuver on the airfield completely independently and at the same time does not include the main engines. Besides the obvious fuel economy and reduce wear of engines - for operation in close proximity to land them gets the most dust and debris. And reduced brake wear - taxiing aircraft constantly have to slow down as it is not sufficiently thin and quickly change the basic thrust of the engine, and the power is useless - the speed of movement can be very precisely controlled over a wide range.
Wheel-lift significantly accelerates embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, as for maneuvers at the terminal is no longer needed an ordinary tractor. In general, airport capacity is increased by 3%, reduced noise, air pollution and danger to airport employees working from jet engines. For a year savings in transaction costs could exceed $ 500 000 per aircraft. Globally, the score goes already billions.
Final testing of the system took place in 2012 at the Prague airport. Now the company settles the question of certification and approvals. In February of this year WheelTug already have orders from 14 airlines for the conversion of 785 aircraft. Active negotiations are still with 300 carriers. So far, the wheel-lift can be installed on medium-level liners Boeing 737.
A similar system with similar characteristics and developing European company EGTS International
. However, electric EGTS offers placed in the rear rack chassis. And the Israeli IAI develops alternative - semi tractor TaxiBot
, which the pilot can be controlled directly from the cab aircraft. The Israelis stress that their version does not require completion of the aircraft, can tow even the largest liners and fits in well with the existing infrastructure. True, TaxiBot does not solve the problem of time-consuming for docking and undocking with the plane of the tractor, and a possible shortage of trucks during peak hours - these problems in principle deprived system, integrated into the aircraft. According to IAI costs for towing aircraft at airports by 2020 will amount to eight and a half billion dollars. With the widespread introduction TaxiBot can reduce this figure up to three billion. TaxiBot system is currently being tested at the airport Frankfurt.