Tugging an aircraft from A to B might not sound like such a big deal. But if you’re an airline trying to cut your fuel bill, you might see the benefit of WheelTug’s electric nose drive for aircraft ground manoeuvring.
The company now reveals it is in serious discussions with potential customers about adapting the system for other types - including the military!
“A formal response has already been submitted for one military aircraft, with more to follow,” reveals the firm in a recent newsletter. “Military airplanes do not have the same commercial certification hurdles, so in many cases the effort can be accomplished in parallel.”
Meanwhile, a motor designed specifically for the wheel envelope and geometry of the 737NG is underway at parent Chorus Motors, with aircraft testing by WheelTug scheduled for this summer, says the company.
The overall program schedule includes completion of all hardware for certification testing by early 2009, with the remainder of the year dedicated to certification. Corporate objectives include installation for revenue-generating flights by the end of 2009 or very early 2010.
WheelTug currently works with partner and US launch customer Delta Air Lines. Over the coming months, WheelTug expects to select the next target commercial aircraft type.
“There is increasing interest in the Airbus A320, since a WheelTug-equipped 737NG will have substantial operating and cost competitive advantages over an A320 without a WheelTug,” says the firm.
“Regional Jets as well as the Boeing 757 are potential candidates but in the end, the decision will be based on the level of interest and commitment from customer airlines and regional carriers.”
In the face of soaring fuel costs, WheelTug says it can save an airline tens of thousands of dollars per month for every aircraft.