Air France has become a partner in Honeywell's and Safran's jointly developed electric green taxiing system (EGTS).
The airline signed a preliminary agreement to evaluate the benefits of the electric drive mechanism for the main landing gear and share its analyses with the two manufacturers for potential system refinements.
While the goal is clearly to equip Air France's approximately 120-strong Airbus A320 fleet with the equipment, Brian Wenig, vice-president for business development at Honeywell, says the current deal with Air France does not involve installation of the equipment on any of carrier's aircraft. But such test operations by the airline could be possible at a later stage, he adds.
The present partnership covers two phases: the first is to evaluate the airline's business case for an electric taxiing system, while the second will focus on how the line-fit system can be adapted for installation on existing fleets.
Air France's sister carrier KLM signed a preliminary agreement for the rival WheelTug electric taxing system, where the motors are installed in the nose wheels. WheelTug has tested its system on a Boeing 737, but also wants to apply it to A320s.
Honeywell and Safran plan their line-fit system to enter service for both A320s and 737s in 2016, with the retrofit equipment due to follow within a year afterwards.
Air France's MRO arm installed the prototype system on Safran's and Honeywell's A320 test aircraft at its maintenance facility in Toulouse.
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