During testing, pilots were able to push the plane back, and taxi without waiting for a tug or powering up the engines.
WheelTug plc announces the successful installation and test of the first in-wheel WheelTug® system in Prague on a Germania Boeing 737-700. During testing, pilots were able to push the plane back, and taxi without waiting for a tug or powering up the engines. Pilots were able to move the plane through motors in the nosewheel powered solely by the aircraft’s APU. WheelTug savings are projected to be greater than current airline per-flight profits.
The four day ‘M1’ system test was conducted at Prague Ruzyne Airport. The system performed on all pavement types as well as wet and oil-slicked tarmac.
“The small and powerful M1 WheelTug, built into the nose wheel and powered solely by the aircraft’s APU, moves a commercial aircraft through the full range of pushback and taxi maneuvers across a broad range of weather and surface conditions,” said WheelTug CEO Isaiah Cox.
“I’m excited about seeing engineless-taxi come to aviation. It was a great honour to be the first pilot to use WheelTug on a Boeing 737,” said Germania Captain Patrick Hintzen.
“In particular, there are many delays on pushback and it is where the airline has the least control of aircraft. With WheelTug, we are freed from the ‘chains’ that keep us parked at the gate.”
The tests were undertaken by the WheelTug team including key partners Endeavor Analysis, ICE Corp., Co-Operative Industries and Dynetic Systems. Tests were hosted by Prague Airport and ABS Jets, with the aircraft provided by Germania.
“We’re proud that we’re ready to enter the final stretch of system specification, leading to commercial deployment,” said Mr. Cox.
“A recent study in conjunction with Oliver Wyman and US Airways, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, showed industry net profit of less than $164 per flight. Thus, WheelTug’s projected savings to airlines of over $200 per flight has the potential to dramatically increase airline profitability.”
“The M1 test reaffirms our forecast that WheelTug will soon lead to significant benefits for airlines, pilots, passengers and the general public,” said WheelTug director Jan Vana.
“The team and observers at Prague Airport saw the power of WheelTug in action for ourselves,” said Vana.
They expect that the WheelTug system will:
The WheelTug is designed for rapid retrofit. In under two hours, the test system was uninstalled from the Germania 737-700 and the aircraft returned to service.
After meeting the latest test milestone, WheelTug remains on target for Entry-into-Service for the 737NG and A320 families of aircraft. 215 WheelTug delivery slots have already been reserved by European, Middle East, and Asian airlines.