Video: Honeywell, Safran debut green electronic taxiing system

illus2Honeywell and Safran have completed the first major phase of testing of their electric green taxiing system (EGTS), and will make the first public demonstration of the technology, installed on an Airbus A320 aircraft, during the 50th International Paris Air Show held at Le Bourget Airport from June 17-23, 2013.

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Developed by EGTS International, a joint venture between Honeywell and Safran launched in 2011, the EGTS technology enables aircraft to avoid using their main engines during taxiing and instead taxi autonomously under their own electrical power. Similar to a hybrid car using electrical power at slow speeds, EGTS will improve airline operating efficiency during taxi operations and cut fuel consumption by up to four percent per flight cycle.

EGTS will also provide environmental benefits by reducing noise and carbon and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions during taxi operations, and will reduce gate and tarmac congestion, improve on-time departure, and allow passengers to deplane faster as a result of smoother ground handling operations. EGTS continues to gain strong interest from airports and airlines ahead of its expected introduction to the market in 2016.

Because an aircraft’s main engines are optimized for flying rather than taxiing, they burn a disproportionate amount of fuel during ground operations. With a short- or medium-range aircraft spending up to 2.5 hours of its time on taxiways every day, EGTS could save approximately 600 kilogrammes of fuel used during taxiing from being consumed daily, according to Honeywell and Safran estimates.

EGTS allows aircraft to push back autonomously and then taxi between gate and runway without engaging the main engines by using the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) generator to power electric motors in the main landing gear. Each of an EGTS-equipped aircraft’s powered wheels is fitted with a control system, giving pilots total control of the aircraft’s speed and direction during taxi operations. In addition to reduced fuel burn, the system will also generate further savings by reducing engine and brake wear and minimizing the risk of damage to engine turbines from foreign objects on the tarmac.

The initial development of EGTS to date has mobilized more than 200 engineers working in 13 Safran and Honeywell facilities around the world. The component system and aircraft testing program has accumulated more than 3,000 hours of testing on seven bespoke testing benches and rigs, including on-ground manoeuvres in Toulouse, France, on an A320 modified by the joint venture for the EGTS development programme.

Since this aircraft’s “first move” in April of this year, the EGTS fitted to it has logged close to 160 kilometers (100 miles) of rolling tests. These tests evaluate the system in various load configurations and runway conditions, through a series of complex manoeuvres such as pushback, tight turns and U-turns, according to varying specifications of acceleration and speed. The next major milestone of the testing program following the Paris Air Show will be to conduct these same manoeuvres at speeds up to 20 knots, at full performance and with the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW).

Brian Wenig, EGTS Programme Vice President, Honeywell Aerospace, said: EGTS will be for aviation what hybrid cars were for the automotive industry. The potential of fuel savings and emissions reductions that can be had with the system will be monumental for airlines, delivered by two leaders in their respective fields.”

Olivier Savin, EGTS Programme Vice President, Safran, added: “We are extremely pleased to showcase these demonstrations at the Paris Air Show, proving the credibility of our partnership and solution. Safran and Honeywell are highly engaged in the development of electrical technologies for aircraft that will help the industry revolutionize the way it conducts taxiing operations in the future. EGTS clearly demonstrates the multiple benefits gained from a system that combines concrete cost-savings with significant emissions reductions for the benefits of airlines, airports and ultimately passengers.”

Jens Berlinson, Test Pilot, Safran, said EGTS is a revolutionary system that brings immediate benefits for a pilot operating in congested airports. “In addition to faster push-back times, being fully autonomous with its reverse mode, the system is very smooth and so easy to operate, enabling the plane to accelerate without any delay, and move at a steady rate. With EGTS we no longer need to use the brakes unlike with today’s aircraft that have a tendency to accelerate naturally even when the engines are at idle. This is especially valuable in busy airports, where planes are often queuing up for an extended period of time before take-off.”

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