Honeywell and Safran have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop an electric green taxiing system aimed at improving operational efficiency for airlines and reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions.
The system, which is available new or as a retrofit, is aimed at single-aisle narrowbody aircraft and is planned to enter service in 2016. Honeywell and Safran have acquired a used Airbus A320 to use as a testbed. The full system will be tested in 2012 and demonstrations on board the aircraft are planned for 2013.
Honeywell and Safran estimate that the new system could reduce an airline's total annual fuel consumption by 4%. The joint venture partners will leverage the aircraft auxiliary power unit generator to run electrical motors in the aircraft's main wheels, without using main engines, during ground operations.
Safran chief executive Jean-Paul Herteman said the joint venture has been "talking extensively with airlines" and "the answer has been very positive", although a launch customer has yet to be secured. He added that the time taken to recoup the costs of installing the system would be "similar" to the time taken to recover the costs associated with installing winglets.
It is "too early to talk about price", said Herteman, but "we're pretty confident it will be a profitable business".
Aircraft equipped with the new system will, said Honeywell, be able to complete pushback and departure more quickly, reducing gate and tarmac congestion, improving punctuality performance, and saving time on the ground.
In addition to the fuel savings, the system could eliminate the need for tugging equipment and reduce brake wear, it added.