PARIS, 17 June 2013. Honeywell (NYSE:HON) and Safran (NYSE Euronext Paris:SAF), having completed the first major phase of testing of their electric green taxiing system (EGTS), are publicly demonstrating the technology for the first time, installed on an Airbus A320 aircraft, at the 50th International Paris Air Show held at Le Bourget Airport.
Developed by EGTS International, a joint venture between Honeywell and Safran launched in 2011, the technology enables aircraft to taxi autonomously using its own electrical power, avoiding the use of the main engines during taxiing. EGTS is designed to improve airline operating efficiency during taxi operations and cut fuel consumption by up to four percent per flight cycle.
EGTS will also reduce noise and carbon and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions during taxi operations, as well as reduce gate and tarmac congestion, improve on-time departure, and allow passengers to deplane faster as a result of smoother ground handling operations, says a representative. Officials anticipate introducing EGTS to the market in 2016.
EGTS enables aircraft to push back autonomously and taxi between gate and runway without engaging the main engines by using the auxiliary power unit (APU) generator to power electric motors in the main landing gear. Each of an EGTS-equipped aircraft's powered wheels is fitted with a control system, giving pilots total control of the aircraft's speed and direction during taxi operations. In addition to reduced fuel burn, the system will reduce engine and brake wear and minimize the risk of damage to engine turbines from foreign objects on the tarmac.
The component system and aircraft testing program has accumulated more than 3,000 hours of testing on seven bespoke testing benches and rigs, including on-ground maneuvers in Toulouse, France, on an A320 modified by the joint venture for the EGTS development program.
Since this aircraft's "first move" in April of this year, the EGTS fitted to it has logged close to 160 kilometers (100 miles) of rolling tests. These tests evaluate the system in various load configurations and runway conditions, through a series of complex maneuvers such as pushback, tight turns and U-turns, according to varying specifications of acceleration and speed. The next major milestone of the testing program following the Paris Air Show will be to conduct these same maneuvers at speeds up to 20 knots, at full performance and with the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW).
"EGTS is a revolutionary system that brings immediate benefits for a pilot operating in congested airports. In addition to faster push-back times, being fully autonomous with its reverse mode, the system is very smooth and so easy to operate, enabling the plane to accelerate without any delay, and move at a steady rate,” says Jens Berlinson, test pilot, Safran. “With EGTS we no longer need to use the brakes unlike with today's aircraft that have a tendency to accelerate naturally even when the engines are at idle. This is especially valuable in busy airports, where planes are often queuing up for an extended period of time before take-off."