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EasyJet to Trial Electric Taxiing System

EasyJet will be the first airline to trial an electric taxiing system being developed by Honeywell and Safran.

The budget airline expects to start operational trials next year using the system, which is designed to reduce or completely eliminate the need for tugs to maneuver aircraft in and out of stands.

The savings could be significant: EasyJet says about four percent of its annual fuel use comes from taxiing, because of the high frequency of its short-haul flights. Its aircraft average 20 minutes of taxi time per flight – the equivalent of 3.5 million miles a year.

The world’s short-haul aircraft consume 5 million tons of fuel per year during taxi operations, according to Honeywell and Safran.

The companies’ system uses a plane’s auxiliary power unit to supply motors in aircraft wheels. Each wheel is equipped with an electromechanical actuator, while special power electronics and system controllers give pilots control of the aircraft’s speed, direction and braking during taxi operations.

Honeywell and Safran are planning to offer the electric green taxiing system either on new aircraft or as a retrofit solution to in-service aircraft, as early as 2016.

The trial will help establish how much fuel the system can save, and will also allow EasyJet to help establish standard operational procedures for aircraft equipped with the system.

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2 thoughts on “EasyJet to Trial Electric Taxiing System

  1. Didn’t Virgin Atlantic trial a similar system at Gatwick a couple of years ago? I seem to remember they also wanted to use ‘stop / start grids’ to help cut emissions and fuel costs. I think the trail did not generate the savings they were expecting. Is this a different system?

  2. The Virgin Atlantic effort implemented tugs to transport the aircraft for taxiing which created several other problems such as how to deal with the tug traffic on the taxiways and the stresses on the nose wheel gear that was not designed for the cyclic stresses that were being applied and would lead to high replacement cost. So yes they did not generate the savings expected but it was due to other issues not the fact that it did not save on fuel. During a typical 23 min taxi-out taxi-in cycle a typical A320 will burn about 217 gallons of fuel which uses about 1171 gallons total for a typical 90min flight and with a typical utilization rate of 7.23 flights per day average the total fuel saved per a day per an aircraft is about 1568 gallons or about 6,000 dollars a day or about 1.9 million dollars a year per an aircraft just in fuel. There is another 2.8 million dollars saved in MRO and turn around cost savings for a total of 4 million a year if you use regenerative magnetic braking but if you add on a motor and keep the friction based brakes your yearly saving is less than 500,000 dollars.

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