WheelTug announced on January 10, 2017, that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has accepted the certification plans for the innovative WheelTug aircraft electric drive system for Boeing 737NG aircraft.
The WheelTug system enables an airplane to taxi forward and backward, using small electric motors in its nosewheels rather than jet engines or a tow tug. It will benefit airlines by well over US$1m per airplane per year, reduce fuel consumption and emissions at airports, and save up to 20 minutes in ground time between flights.
Additionally, WheelTug will enable airplanes to parallel park at terminal gates; using two doors for narrowbody boarding and deplaning will allow for even more expedited travel.
The WheelTug will allow airlines to reduce overall time on the ground. This greater certainty will permit airlines to improve schedule reliability as well as fleet productivity. The unit will also reduce noise, emissions, and safety risks.
The FAA Seattle Aircraft Certification Office has approved the Project Specific Certification Plans for the system. These plans detail how WheelTug will comply with all relevant regulations in order to be granted a Supplemental Type Certificate. The STC is a key document for aircraft operation, and once granted, the units can be installed on aircraft.
WheelTug will first be available for the Boeing 737NG family of aircraft; entry into service is expected in late 2018. Versions for other aircraft types are also planned.
January 12, 2017