Airbus has signed an agreement with EGTS International to develop and evaluate an autonomous electric push-back and taxiing system for its A320 family aircraft.
Under the agreement, EGTS, a joint venture between Safran and Honeywell, will now have their Electric Green Taxiing System (eTaxi) evaluated as an aftermarket option for the A320. The eTaxi allows the aircraft to push back from the gate with no manual assistance and return to the gate after landing without operating the aircraft's main engines.
“Today Airbus delivers the world’s most eco-efficient single-aisle aircraft – the A320 Family. This is the result of our permanent research for innovative enhancements to make our aircraft even more efficient and capable," said Daniel Baubil, executive vice president of Airbus and head of the A320 program. “We therefore look forward to working with our EGTS International expert partners – Honeywell and Safran – with whom we share the common view that the A320 Family is a natural fit for an electric taxiing capability.”
EGTS demonstrated the technology during the 2013 Paris Airshow. Using the aircraft's auxiliary power unit (APU), eTaxi powers electric motors fitted to the main landing gear wheels with an architecture that allows pilots to keep full control from the cockpit over the aircraft's speed and direction during taxi operations.
“Following our demonstration of the technology at this year’s Paris Airshow, this MoU marks the next critical milestone in the advancement of the Electric Green Taxiing System as an option for Airbus’ A320 Family, by securing Airbus’ support in the development of the system. Airbus will provide extremely valuable insight to facilitate a seamless integration into the aircraft," said Brian Wenig, vice president of the EGTS program for Honeywell Aerospace.
In a statement, Airbus said the eTaxi could lead to a projected fuel savings of four percent per trip, and would cut taxiing-related carbon and nitrous oxide emissions by more than half.
The partners will now develop a global commercial case and implementation plan to determine the feasibility of eTaxi for A320 operators.