European low-cost carrier Easyjet announced on the eve of the show that it will be the first airline to test the electric taxiing system that Safran and Honeywell are developing to save fuel (see page 58). With the first operational trials due to take place in 2013, Easyjet’s role will be to help establish whether the estimated savings can be realized. The system enables an aircraft to taxi without its engines, by using the auxiliary power unit to power electric motors in the main wheels.
Because it operates at high frequencies and on short sectors, Easyjet estimates around 4 percent of the fuel it burns annually is used when its aircraft are taxiing. This is based on an average taxi time of 20 minutes per flight, adding up to 3.5 million miles a year for its fleet of around 180 Airbus A320-family aircraft.