Airbus signs agreement with Safran and Honeywell to further develop and evaluate green taxiing system
The EGTS system was demonstrated on an Airbus A320 at last year's Paris Air Show (photo: Safran)
Mon 13 Jan 2014 – Airbus has agreed to back further evaluation of the autonomous electric taxiing system undergoing development by Safran and Honeywell Aerospace. The MoU with the EGTS International joint venture marks the selection of the system – referred to by Airbus as eTaxi – for the narrowbody Airbus A320 family aircraft. The system would allow an aircraft to push back from the gate without a tug, taxi out to the runway and return to the gate after landing without operating the main engines. On an average per trip basis, projected fuel savings and CO2 reductions are estimated at around four per cent and taxiing-related carbon and nitrous oxide emissions are expected to be cut in half. The significantly more efficient taxiing operation would also save around two minutes of time on pushback. Over the next few months, the partners will develop a global commercial case and implementation plan to determine the system’s feasibility.
The eTaxi uses the aircraft’s Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to power electric motors fitted to the main landing gear wheels and enables the pilot to keep full control from the cockpit over the aircraft’s speed and direction during taxi operations.
“Through this agreement we are creating the ideal context to collaborate to best utilise our own landing gear systems expertise to develop a green taxiing solution for the A320 Family,” said Olivier Savin, EGTS Programme Vice President, Safran.
As well as the issue of the added weight of the system to the aircraft during flight, thus potentially offsetting some of the fuel-saving advantage, some within the industry have drawn attention to safety concerns over the fitting of the EGTS system to the main landing gear wheels and the effect and impact of the significant heat generated by the carbon brakes. However, an Airbus spokesman said: “We are making sure the eTaxi system will be transparent to the thermal behaviour of the brakes. This is one of our original integration requirements.”
A demonstration of the technology took place in June last year at the Paris Air Show, having already completed 3,000 hours and 160 kilometres of rolling tests, including complex on-ground manoeuvres such as pushback, tight turns and U-turns on a modified Airbus A320 (see article).
“This MoU marks the next critical milestone in the development of the Electric Green Taxiing System as an option for the Airbus A320 Family by securing the support of Airbus in the development of the system,” said Brian Wenig, EGTS Programme Vice President, Honeywell Aerospace. “Airbus will provide extremely valuable insight to facilitate a seamless integration into the aircraft.”
Airbus and EGTS International are reinforcing their existing teams to finalise validation studies, define specifications and agree market requirements for fitting new as well as existing aircraft with the system. Entry into service on new aircraft is being targeted for 2016.