Alitalia and WheelTug today announced the signing of a partnership to introduce an innovative electric drive system for taxiing the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.
The patented WheelTug electric drive system consists of an electric motor — called “Chorus” — installed in the aircraft nose wheels and powered by the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), the auxiliary engine installed in the tail of aircraft which provides energy to the on-board systems when the main engines are off.
The equipment allows aircraft to taxi both forwards — without the use of main engines — and backwards — without the use of a tow tug. The Chorus electric motor allows the movement of the aircraft from the departure gate to the runway, and upon landing, from runway exit to the stand for passenger disembarkation.
This new technology, which is unprecedented in commercial aviation, allows up to an 80% reduction in the fuel consumption for aircraft ground movements, with a significant reduction in cost, noise, and environmental impact.
The use of the Chorus electric motor also makes the aircraft independent from the tractor for push back, helping to increase operational flexibility and improve on-time operations.
With the agreement announced today with WheelTug, Alitalia becomes the launch customer for this innovative technology, having reserved 100 WheelTug systems for its A320 aircraft.
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