Alitalia signs electric taxi deal with WheelTug

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Alitalia is planning to equip part of its Airbus A320 fleet with electric taxi system WheelTug.

The Italian carrier signed a partnership agreement with Gibraltar-headquartered manufacturer WheelTug, which is developing a electric nose landing gear drive system.

The technology company has conducted tests with demonstrator systems and is currently working on a production version, which is due to enter service on Boeing 737 aircraft in Q3 2013, according to chief executive Isaiah Cox.

The firm signed tentative agreements with 737 operators El Al in Israel, India's Jet Airways and Tel Aviv-based A320 operator Israir.

However, the system for the European narrowbody will be available some time after 2013, says Cox.

Alitalia signed an agreement for 100 of the "Chorus"-named drive units. Aircraft will be equipped with two motors - one in each nose wheel.

According to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database, Alitalia operates 96 A320-family aircraft and has a further 31 units on order.