Safran and Honeywell have begun the first tests for their jointly developed green taxiing system using an Airbus A320 in Montpellier, France.
The initial series of tests are designed to evaluate runway conditions and calculate the necessary loads to move the aircraft on the tarmac.
System installation and ground testing are targeted for 2013.
The system uses the aircraft's auxiliary power unit (APU) to operate motors in the main wheels allowing it to taxi without running its engines.
Each wheel operated by the system is fitted with an electromechanical actuator and system controllers give the aircraft's pilots full control of its speed, direction and braking during taxiing.
The two companies highlight the system's potential to save fuel, cut emissions, increase the aircraft's residual value and boost its on-time performance.
Engine-free taxiing appears to be a growing area of interest for airlines as they look to shave their fuel bills. Israeli carrier El Al is the launch customer for the WheelTug nose-gear drive system, while Airbus and Israel Aerospace Industries are moving to the customer demonstration phase of their Taxibot tow-tractor.