WheelTug signs Czech

WheelTug has signed a deal with Air Navigation Services of the Czech Republic (ANS CR) making it the air navigation and air traffic services partner for European operations.

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“ANS CR is an active member of the world’s leading air traffic management organisations, including CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organization), ATCA (Air Traffic Control Association) and EUROCONTROL,” said Isaiah Cox, CEO of WheelTug plc. “As WheelTug development moves forward, we are excited to bring their expertise to bear in incorporating WheelTug operations into aircraft ground traffic control, service procedures, and pilot training and manuals.”

In addition to integrating the WheelTug system into ground operating procedures, ANS CR Training Centre and ANS CR Aviation School will work with WheelTug plc in development of WheelTug training materials and operations manuals. “The ANS CR organisation has a complete overview of both crew instruction and practical operations. As WheelTug comes to market, ANS CR will help us provide air and ground crews, and traffic controllers, with the highest quality of training,” said Cox.

Jan Klas, Director General of ANS CR, said, “WheelTug is an exciting programme, opening up new opportunities to advance aircraft safety, operating efficiency and environmental protection. Our team is proud to bring the highest standards of operational integration, crew training, and traffic control services to this important green aerospace system.”

The WheelTug(R) aircraft drive system uses high-performance electric motors, installed in the nose gear wheels of an aircraft, to provide full mobility while on the ground, replacing tug vehicles and the use of jet engines for pushback and taxi.

Current commercial aviation practice utilizes a tug for aircraft gate pushback, while forward taxi is powered by the aircraft’s engines. Typically, a taxiing Boeing 737 burns 24 to 27 pounds of fuel per minute. The WheelTug uses only four pounds of fuel per minute because it is electrically powered by the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit (APU). This represents an 80% reduction in ground operation fuel consumption.

In addition to reducing fuel consumption, other benefits of the WheelTug aircraft drive system include: substantially reduced carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, increased safety and flexibility of operations, faster turnaround times, reduced engine wear and repair costs, and decreased noise pollution. WheelTug estimates the total savings at over US$500,000 per aircraft per year.

WheelTug systems will be offered to airlines entirely on a lease, or power-by-the-hour model, so that the systems can be installed and operated on aircraft without any capital expenditure on the part of airline customers. To date, 285 delivery slots for WheelTug systems have been reserved by airlines.

Other WheelTug partner companies include Parker Hannifin, Gables Engineering, Resource Group, Co-Operative Industries, ICE Corporation, Endeavor Analysis, and Dynetic Systems.

WheelTug plc successfully installed and tested the first in-wheel WheelTug system in Prague in June. Video from the tests is available here.