As we all know jets used in commercial aviation burn a lot of fuel, which can be bad for a variety of cost and environmental reasons. Any way in which airlines can cut down on jet fuel consumption is a good thing, and one of the latest tools they will have available to do this is an electric green taxiing system (EGTS) which recently completed its first major phase of testing.

Developed by EGTS International, a joint venture between Honeywell and Safran launched in 2011, the EGTS technology, according to those behind it,

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.

The technology makes it so that the planes get around using an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) generator to power electric motors in the main landing gear. The powered wheels on equipped planes are fitted with a control system, noted EGTS International, giving pilots control of the aircraft’s speed and direction during taxi operations.

image via EGTS
image via EGTS

Benefits of the EGTS system are obvious, but include environmental – by reducing noise and carbon and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions during taxi operations  – as well as cost savings in the form of reduced fuel burn, engine and brake wear and minimizing the risk of damage to engine turbines from foreign objects on the tarmac.

Such a system is not easily created, and those behind it include more than 200 engineers working in 13 Safran and Honeywell facilities around the world. Besides logging a huge amount of in the lab time, on-ground maneuvers in Toulouse, France, on an A320 modified for testing has completed around 100 miles of equivalent rolling tests.

Plans next call for EGTS to conduct rolling tests at speeds up to 20 knots, at full performance and with the aircraft at maximum take-off weight. If all goes well, it is hoped it could be ready for commercial deployment in 2016.

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