Airbus could run electric taxi demonstration on A320 this year

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Airbus could undertake a demonstration of an electric taxi system on an A320 this year as part of studies to reduce fuel burn and emissions.

"We are looking at installing electric motors in the wheels," says A320 family programme executive vice-president Alain Flourens.

a320 winglets
 © Airbus

Airbus is in discussion with an undisclosed partner and could undertake a demonstration before the end of the year, he adds. Either Airbus's flying testbed or the German DLR aircraft recently used for fuel cell tests, would undertake the trial.

The test would involve the motors being used to propel the aircraft rather than the jet engines, with electrical power provided by the auxiliary power unit. However, Flourens says that alternative power sources are being examined for the longer term, such as fuel cell technology.

Airbus revealed earlier this week that it is to undertake a second round of tests of large winglets for the A320 using an Aviation Partners design in July. The airframer expects to decide on whether to launch a programme by the end of the year.