Posted by- Neelam Mathews
Dec 8, 2011
L-3 Communications, Fraport, as well as Lufthansa and Lufthansa Technik, with Airbus support, teamed up to jointly test a technology demonstrator which might lead to a new way for aircraft to taxi.
For the first time ever electric motors were installed on the main landing gear of a commercial aircraft taking over all necessary movements of an aircraft on ground. The system integrates electric wheel drives into the main landing gear to propel the aircraft during ground operations. The wheel-drive technology leverages its industry-leading electric motors' continuous torque and power density to propel the aircraft.
In the first three days of the test period high-performance electric motors built by L-3 were installed into the main landing gear of an Airbus A320 aircraft. The necessary modifications included the installation of an interface in the cockpit as well as further modifications such as the power supply through the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) or the integration of a cooling system.
During five days the e-taxi demonstrator was then tested under real conditions: typical duty cycles which include the pushback of an aircraft as well as taxiing in and out were carried out several times. This test period allowed the partners to collect a massive amount of data. In the aftermath the partners will evaluate collaboratively the data to gain further insights in the feasibility of the e-taxi demonstrator. On this basis the appropriate conclusions can be drawn whether the development of a prototype is reasonable.
"As a leading provider of services for the aviation industry we know all obstacles of reliable line maintenance. We constantly work on improving our processes and are always looking for innovative enhancements, to reduce, for example, turnaround times or fuel burn. This is why we gladly accepted L3's offer to team up for testing the e-taxi demonstrator.," said Robert Nyenhuis, Vice President Aircraft Engineering at Lufthansa Technik.
"This revolutionary e-taxi system utilizes green technology to improve aircraft autonomy and provide more environmentally friendly ground operations," said Joe Hoffman, Vice President and Executive Program Manager of L-3's team. "Studies demonstrate single aisle airplanes can burn greater than three percent of total mission fuel during ground operations. We are convinced that L-3's GreenTaxi system will provide materially significant economic and environmental benefits to the airplane operators and airport service providers."