SOURCE: WheelTug plc
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC and GIBRALTAR–(Marketwire – December 6, 2010) – Ground tests conducted last week at Prague Airport confirmed that the WheelTug onboard integrated electric drive system will be able to efficiently move commercial aircraft on the ground across a wide range of surface conditions.
Isaiah Cox, WheelTug plc President and CEO, explained: “The tests we conducted last week were to verify our preliminary design of the in-wheel WheelTug system. We collected considerable data about the forces required from an onboard electric drive system, and we had the added bonus of working in very adverse conditions, including during the middle of a snow storm which resulted in snow, ice, and wet runway conditions.”
The Chorus® electric motors attached to the nosewheels were able to drive the Boeing 737-800 testbed at taxi speeds, and to execute nose-driven 180-degree turns.
Mr. Cox continued, “The data we gathered is now being analyzed for the demonstration program for the first WheelTug. This system, which is now at the final engineering stages prior to the actual build, is within the wheel well envelope to avoid extensive modifications to the airplane.”
The tests were featured on the most popular Czech nightly news, Nova. The news clip can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_Zl4Bu-guM.
The first proof-of-concept tests using a fully loaded Boeing 767-200 demonstrated that Chorus Motors attached to the nose wheels would indeed drive the aircraft on the ground, in high-temperature desert conditions on high-friction surfaces, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Cbfi2wsgns.
Cox added, “We are very pleased with the results of these tests, which show a broad operating envelope. WheelTug will maximize savings and operating efficiencies for airlines and aircraft operators.”
The equipment used in Prague was solely for data gathering purposes. Production versions of WheelTug will be incorporated into and integral to the wheel, and will be fully retractable.
According to Ing. Jiri Pos, Senior Executive Director Aviation business, Operations and Properties Management at Letiste Praha: “Prague Airport is known as an innovative airport and has traditionally been active in Research and Development of the new airport and aircraft systems. The non-active Runway 22 is an excellent area for testing various systems and WheelTug spent two successful days there, despite heavy snowfall and freezing conditions. Prague Airport Consulting looks forward to participating in further testing and development of operational procedures for WheelTug.”
Travel Service CEO Roman Vik stated: “We’re glad to show that Travel Service is a world leader among airlines for supporting innovative and environmentally responsible technologies.”
The patented and proprietary WheelTug® hybrid-electric drive system uses high-performance electric motors installed in nose gear wheels of an aircraft, providing full mobility while on the ground, without the use of the aircraft’s jet engines or external tugs for both pushback and taxi operations. WheelTug enables aircraft to be electrically driven from the terminal gate to the takeoff runway, and upon landing from runway exit to the gate. The resulting improvements in efficiency, flexibility, fuel savings, and reduced engine foreign object damage (FOD) yield projected operating cost savings of more than $500,000 per aircraft per year, plus significant reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.
WheelTug plc is in talks with both airframe manufacturers and airlines regarding development of WheelTug models for additional commercial aircraft types, as well as for military aircraft. The company’s risk-sharing partners currently include Dynetic Systems for wheel motors; Co-Operative Industries for wire harness; Luxell Technology for cockpit interface; ICE Corporation for system controller; Endeavor Analysis for structural and system analysis; Newport Aeronautical Development for certification management; and Gibbs Gears for gearing.
Many organizations assisted WheelTug in conducting the latest tests:
- Letiste Praha a.s. (www.prg.aero), operates the Prague Airport, and provided wide-ranging support and ATC coordination.
- Travel Service Airline (www.travelservice.aero), the Prague-based low-cost and charter airline, provided the aircraft, flight crew, and mechanical and logistical support.
- Czech Airlines Technics (www.czechairlines.com) provided hangar space and technical support, including installation/de-installation and aircraft weighing.
- GSE Services (www.gse.cz) provided the external power generator, truck and drivers, and other support.
- 3M Peltor (www.peltor.com) provided ground communications equipment.
- also TE-DI (www.tedi.cz) for shaft alignment; PROVOS (www.provos.cz) for chain shrouds, TORQUE s.r.o. (www.torque-systems.cz) for sensor calibration; and Alpha Group (www.alpha-group.com) for catering.
For further information please contact:
tel: +420 724 276 506
Travel Service Airline
tel: +420 220 11 5069
Letiste Praha / Prague Airport
tel: + 420 220 113 857