Turning Commercial Jets into Hybrids

November 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Eco, Eco Tech, Green

A company called WheelTug has devised a way for commercial airplanes to run on electricity at slow speeds, much like a hybrid vehicle does. The WheelTug system includes a pair of electric motors embedded in an airplane’s nose wheel which provide power for backing the plane away from the gate and for taxiing up to 28 mph. The electricity for the motors is provided by the auxiliary power unit of the plane, a small engine located at the back of the aircraft used for running lights and the ventilation system when the main engines are off. The auxiliary power unit uses only about half a gallon of fuel per minute compared to two gallons per minute for each of the main engines.  The WheelTug allows a plane to taxi without use of the main engines and to back from the gate without the help of a diesel-fueled tug, cutting down significantly on fuel use while a plane is on the ground. Another advantage to creating hybrid jets is that planes will spend less time on the ground since they won’t have to wait for a tug.  Also, by running the main engines less, engines will sustain less damage. The company has just signed a deal to outfit 20 El Al jets with the system and hopes to get certification from European and American aviation regulators by early 2013. via NY Times Green Blog

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Turning Commercial Jets into Hybrids

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