777
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Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 9:24 am

It has been announced a couple of weeks ago: Alitalia has signed an agreement with WheelTug that will provide 100 "Chorus" electric engines for the AZ A320s fleet.

With this electric engines installed on the nose gear and powered by the APU, each aircraft will be able to push back and taxi till the runway using only the APU.

This technology, if confirmed in its effectiveness, may represent a new frontier in the fight against the fuel consumption that each airline is facing in these hard times...



Quote:
April 25, 2012 04:00 ET
Agreement: Alitalia - WheelTug to Introduce Electric Drive System for Aircraft Taxi
Advantages for the Environment, and Operational Flexibility
ROME--(Marketwire - Apr 25, 2012) - Alitalia and WheelTug today announced the signing of a partnership to introduce an innovative electric drive system for taxiing the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.
The patented WheelTug electric drive system consists of an electric motor -- called "Chorus" -- installed in the aircraft nose wheels and powered by the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), the auxiliary engine installed in the tail of aircraft which provides energy to the on-board systems when the main engines are off.
The equipment allows aircraft to taxi both forwards -- without the use of main engines -- and backwards -- without the use of a tow tug. The Chorus electric motor allows the movement of the aircraft from the departure gate to the runway, and upon landing, from runway exit to the stand for passenger disembarkation.
This new technology, which is unprecedented in commercial aviation, allows up to an 80% reduction in the fuel consumption for aircraft ground movements, with a significant reduction in cost, noise, and environmental impact.
The use of the Chorus electric motor also makes the aircraft independent from the tractor for push back, helping to increase operational flexibility and improve on-time operations.
With the agreement announced today with WheelTug, Alitalia becomes the launch customer for this innovative technology, having reserved 100 WheelTug systems for its A320 aircraft.
Through this partnership, Alitalia continues its commitment to technological innovation, economical and environmental sustainability and improving quality standards.
For WheelTug this agreement represents a key opportunity to spread this innovative technology to the best-selling aircraft family in the world.



http://www.marketwire.com/press-rele...-for-aircraft-taxi-1648356.htm
 
Liverpoola380
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 11:09 am

Wow this seems great it will also reduce handling costs as they will not have to pay the ground agent for push back costs.

Is this something the Airbus and Boeing have explored as an option for factory instalation?
 
Byrdluvs747
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 11:45 am

I imagine the guys who drive the current tugs can't be too happy about this, or would the ground crew still have control when the aircraft is backing up?
The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
 
peanuts
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 12:00 pm

We also have to fly around the extra weight of "Chorus". What is the weight?

Just curious as to the full cost/benefit aspect of this. (sure it all sounds great, but more things attached to an aircraft could also lead to more/other "issues' down the line...)

It sounds innovative however...
 
wolbo
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 12:02 pm

Seems a good step forward and wouldn't be surprised if this quickly becomes a standard (provided the weight penalty is not too severe).

It has quite a few benefits: lower fuel consumption, less emissions, much less noise, faster pullback, reduced handling costs (?), fewer engine hours and less risk of foreign object damage.

Nice video form a Lufthansa trial: http://bcove.me/fiiwb63f
 
Tristarsteve
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 12:28 pm

Still don't understand how it is meant to work in the winter?

When the apron is covered in snow and ice, we have great difficulty pushing aircraft back with tractors as the wheels of the tractor just spin on the icy ground. Now they are going to just use the aircraft weight on the nose gear? Never going to work.

I will wait until they get one on the main wheels.
 
eaa3
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 12:36 pm

How much does the system weigh?
 
76er
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 12:45 pm

A few years ago I read an article about this and it mentioned the whole thing should only weigh about 50 kilos
 
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nighthawk
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 1:00 pm

Quoting Byrdluvs747 (Reply 2):

I imagine the guys who drive the current tugs can't be too happy about this, or would the ground crew still have control when the aircraft is backing up?

you would still need some form of crew member on the ground to check clearance... A320's don't have rear view mirrors... yet  
 
wolbo
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 1:10 pm

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 6):
Still don't understand how it is meant to work in the winter?

When the apron is covered in snow and ice, we have great difficulty pushing aircraft back with tractors as the wheels of the tractor just spin on the icy ground. Now they are going to just use the aircraft weight on the nose gear? Never going to work.

Nobody says it needs to be used all the time. You can still have traditional pullback when circumstances, such as snow/ice, require it.

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 6):
I will wait until they get one on the main wheels.

Messier-Bugatti are working on a system that uses the main landing gear insetad of the nose gear.

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...n-of-electric-taxi-concept-344451/
 
Byrdluvs747
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 1:21 pm

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 8):
you would still need some form of crew member on the ground to check clearance

Yes, but control is a different issue. Reaction time is slowed by having to go through a ground crew member to the pilot versus the ground crew just reacting.

Quoting 777 (Thread starter):
introduce an innovative electric drive system for taxiing the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.

I wonder if this concept will scale up to 767 size aircraft.
The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
 
Byrdluvs747
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 1:22 pm

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 8):
you would still need some form of crew member on the ground to check clearance

Yes, but control is a different issue. Reaction time is slowed by having to go through a ground crew member to the pilot versus the ground crew just reacting. And some planes do have rear cameras.  
Quoting 777 (Thread starter):
introduce an innovative electric drive system for taxiing the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.

I wonder if this concept will scale up to 767 size aircraft.
The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
 
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BobMUC
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 1:27 pm

Many information (product, roi, pics, videos) can be found on the companys website: http://www.wheeltug.gi/index.shtml
(even testing in winter)
Very interesting. Eg you only can lease this product. They don't sell it.
We'll see how this will work in the next years.
 
Byrdluvs747
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Wed May 09, 2012 3:22 pm

Quoting Byrdluvs747 (Reply 11):
I wonder if this concept will scale up to 767 size aircraft.

I guess the video on the website says yes.
The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
 
Mcoov
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 4:22 am

I'm wondering what kind of effects this will have in terminal operations, besides the lessened need for a tug. How will loading and fueling be sped up, or not sped up, and how will the terminal area evolve should these motors become standard equipment. I'm also wondering how winter ops will be conducted in cold and icy airports. How will the motors and wires be protected from weather damage, and will traction be maintained while taxiing. My solution would be to make the airplane all-wheel-drive, but that would add significant weight, especially for an airplane like the 747 or A380.

All-in-all, I think this is a promising technology.
 
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KLASM83
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 4:38 am

I wonder how this will work when an airplanes APU is INOP? I think having a tug on standby (plus the additional airstart cart etc etc) for this would be helpful as well.


Looks like an interesting product, nonetheless.
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wjcandee
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 6:39 am

It's not like the brief use that tugs get burns a huge amount of fuel, particularly when compared to the APU that's going to have to power this thing. However, perhaps some fuel savings from being able to shut down engines when taxiing in?
 
777
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 7:55 am

Quoting wjcandee (Reply 16):
However, perhaps some fuel savings from being able to shut down engines when taxiing in?

That's the real advantage, IMHO, especially if you consider the taxi time in some airports such as AMS, LHR, CDG, ....
 
parapente
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 9:11 am

If this (or indeed both) system(s) are as good as they say (and there is no reason to doubt them) I can see such systems being adopted very quickly indeed.Saving fuel and reducing turnround times are 2 of the key peramiters in aviation economics.Particularly with rapid turnround shorthaul aircraft.

One might compare it to winglets. Once the fuel savings were confirmed and that there were no nasty side effects they have been adopted at a breakneck speed.Thus will surely be the case here too.

There is an interesting article on Flight Global on just how hard (in a practical sense) it is prooving to meaningfully reduce drag much further in the real operating World as oposed to the lab'.

We also know that the 2 engine suppliers are busting a gut to sqeeze every last drop of efficiency (indeed again there is an interesting article in Flight where P&W are questioning the maturity of some of the exotic materials GE are proposing to use on thier new engine) so they are both right at the bleeding edge of economics.

So something 'simple' like this is a welcome extra area where an 'easy win' can be found.

Frankly beyond these measures and everything they are doing to the NEO/MAX I feel the only thing left will be to 'Fly Slower'.
The transonic speesd that most aircraft fly at were set in the 60's when fuel was 'free; and CO2 issues did not exist.Don't get me wrong I want to get to where I am going as quickly as the next person.But perhaps we need to reconsider this 60's 'norm' in the light of 2012 real world conditions of 115$ a barrel/peak oil and climate change.Is it still the responsible speed today I wonder?
 
aircanada014
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 10:50 am

Is this the same wheel tug AirCanada tested their 767 way back? I can't remember exact date but I do recall AC was testing this new wheel tug. Seems AC didn't go with the plan to use them.
 
migair54
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 7:32 pm

I think the system is a great idea, but they still need to test in a daily basis operation, and then we will see if the system works so good.

But as someone already said here, for airport with long cues for take and long taxi distances it will save millions of Dolars to the airlines at the end of the year.

I´m sure many airlines are going to wait and see what does it looks like with Alitalia and then we will see if this is a success or a fail, but the idea is very good, much better than VS using tugs all the way to the holding point.
 
wolbo
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 8:01 pm

Guess this will require a change in the checklists as well. At what point will the engines be started if the push-back and taxiing is done on electric power? How much time do the engines need to spool up before the plane can take-off?
 
chuchoteur
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Thu May 10, 2012 8:51 pm

Quoting Wolbo (Reply 4):
Nice video form a Lufthansa trial: http://bcove.me/fiiwb63f

That video is from the DLH trial with the electric motors on the Main Landing Gear.
 
777
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Fri May 11, 2012 7:45 am

Quoting Wolbo (Reply 21):
Guess this will require a change in the checklists as well. At what point will the engines be started if the push-back and taxiing is done on electric power? How much time do the engines need to spool up before the plane can take-off?

I had the same question in my mind.
I guess you can't switch on the engines and take off immediately after, especially after a night stop.
 
Semaex
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Fri May 11, 2012 2:19 pm

Quoting 777 (Reply 23):
Quoting Wolbo (Reply 21):
Guess this will require a change in the checklists as well. At what point will the engines be started if the push-back and taxiing is done on electric power? How much time do the engines need to spool up before the plane can take-off?

I had the same question in my mind.
I guess you can't switch on the engines and take off immediately after, especially after a night stop.

Good question.
For the opposite it's quite easy though: As soon as you have landed and vacated the runway, you're good to switch off the engines and continue on electricity. On airports like AMS or FRA this measure can save thousands per year!

If I remember correctly, a statement by LH was that on some routes, especially short ones, the system can reduce the fuel consumption by 2%. Don't take my word for it tho!
// You know you're an aviation enthusiast when you look at your neighbour's cars and think about fleet commonality.
 
Tristarsteve
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Fri May 11, 2012 5:39 pm

Quoting Wolbo (Reply 21):
At what point will the engines be started if the push-back

Normally engines require 5 mins at idle before throttles being advanced.
Also engines require 5 min at idle after being used. But if idle reverse only is used airlines drop this to 2 - 3 mins after landing.
 
r2rho
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Tue May 22, 2012 12:24 pm

Good to see someone try out this innovative concept. El Al, Jet Airways and Israir are also cited as partners in the project, but AZ is first to commit to it operationally.

There is another related concept called TaxiBot developed by IAI and tested by Airbus, but AFAIK not operational yet. It is very different, and based on a remote-controlled tug rather than aircraft-mounted motor.

[quote=peanuts,reply=3]We also have to fly around the extra weight of "Chorus". What is the weight?

Just curious as to the full cost/benefit aspect of this.


That is the key question. AZ obviously must believe that the fuel saved in taxi is greater than the extra fuel burnt in flight for carrying the extra weight around. But it will be interesting to observe it in a real operational scenario, and see what conclusion AZ arrives to. If positive, other airlines will surely follow.

Also, making the aircraft independent from tugs introduces further benefits beyond the pure fuel saving, as you gain operational flexibility, lower ground handling costs, don't have to wait for a tug, etc...

[quote=bobmuc,reply=12]Many information (product, roi, pics, videos) can be found on the companys website: http://www.wheeltug.gi/index.shtml(even testing in winter)

but I haven't found its weight...
The site does state With a typical 737, fuel savings of between 13 and 21 pounds/minute of taxi time can be expected. . Now all we need to know is how much more the a/c consumes in flight by carrying 50kg(?TBC?) more weight around.
 
AM744
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RE: Alitalia Launch Customer Of Wheeltug For Its A320s

Tue May 22, 2012 4:07 pm

Quoting wjcandee (Reply 16):
It's not like the brief use that tugs get burns a huge amount of fuel, particularly when compared to the APU that's going to have to power this thing. However, perhaps some fuel savings from being able to shut down engines when taxiing in?

Perhaps not in the pullback per se, but if I understand correctly, the electric engine can be used for taxiing thus saving 10-20 min of main engines fuel in big congested airports.

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