An Airbus taxiing along with its engines shut down? It's not that far off!
Safran and Airbus are currently working on their electric taxiing program for the Airbus A320 family. The aim? To have the first aircraft upgraded and in service by 2021-2022.
All-electric aircraft will not be taking to the skies in the immediate future, but before long they will be taxiing across the tarmac powered by electricity. That is the aim of the electric taxiing program being developed by Safran and Airbus.
The idea is a simple one: instead of using its main engines for taxiing on airport taxiways, burning fuel unnecessarily, the aircraft will use small electric motors fitted inside the wheels of its landing gear. * Thereby saving about 4% in fuel and greatly reducing carbon emissions.
According to a study conducted in late 2017 by Safran among around twenty airlines, this solution makes a lot of sense in busy airports where taxiing operations can sometimes take between 10 and 15 minutes, and for airlines making numerous shuttle trips in a single day. In addition, the majority of them have already expressed an interest in the system. By choosing this innovative, strategic and revolutionary technology, they could save hundreds of thousands of dollars per aircraft per year, at the same time reducing the environmental impact of their ground operations.
* How Electric Taxiing works: The Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) generator provides power to motors located inside the wheels of the main landing gear. The system enables the aircraft to reverse and move around on the ground entirely under its own power, without needing to use its main engines.
Reduced fuel consumption
The electric taxiing system can lead to savings of as much as 4% in the total fuel budget, making an average of 250,000 dollars per aircraft per year, with some airlines seeing savings of as much as 500,000 dollars.
Autonomy & improved punctuality
An aircraft fitted with the electric taxiing system would be able to reverse and depart the stand more quickly, without relying on ground services and infrastructure, which would help improve traffic flows on the apron and at gates, improving flight punctuality and gaining precious minutes on the ground.
The electric taxiing system can reduce carbon and nitrous oxide emissions by as much as 73% and 51% respectively during taxiing.
What this means for the environment:
With the electric taxiing system, ground equipment will no longer be required for push-back and towing operations, extending the life of the main engines and reducing maintenance activities, at the same time limiting damage caused by the ingestion of foreign objects into engines during taxiing. This solution will also improve the health and safety of ground personnel, reducing noise pollution in the airport environment.