FARNBOROUGH: Air Berlin to design video system for WheelTug

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Air Berlin and electric taxi specialist WheelTug are to develop a video system for reverse taxi operations.

The German carrier says its MRO division will design, develop and certificate an “anti-collision monitoring” system with camera specialist FTI Engineering Network for WheelTug’s in-development nose-wheel electric drive system. A tentative agreement has been signed by Air Berlin Technik and WheelTug at Farnborough air show.

Officially dubbed a “pilot ground situation awareness system”, the equipment will comprise cameras on the vertical fin and fuselage as well as sensors on the wing-tips to enable pilots to manoeuvre aircraft “unaided” on the ground, the airline says.

Pilots typically depend on marshallers to park aircraft on stands without ground-based automated guidance systems. Meanwhile, tractors are normally used for push-back of aircraft from stands, which usually requires at least one ground-staff member in addition to the tug driver to monitor the area behind the aircraft.

The video system – which is to be developed as retrofit equipment – will “speed up turnarounds as a whole, and reduce ground delays that are the source of the vast majority of delays”, says WheelTug chief executive Isaiah Cox.

Last year, Air Berlin signed a tentative deal with WheelTug, covering installation of the electric drive system on its aircraft.

The carrier’s fleet includes 55 Airbus A320-family aircraft, 50 Boeing 737s, 14 A330s and three Bombardier Q400 turboprops, Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows.