Three companies are competing to offer airlines a fuel-saving way to have their aircraft taxi with engines shut down.
After a four-year absence from its product line, Lektro will be restoring its smallest battery-powered aircraft tug, the AP8350, to its lineup next month. According to the Oregon-based company, the tug–which can handle aircraft weighing up to 10,000 pounds–has been revived to meet the needs of customers operating very light jets. The tug couples a traction motor directly to a helical-gear Dana differential and has a universal nose-gear lifting cradle. An on-board GPU is optional.
In another example of the government’s pushback against laser threats to aviation, a federal grand jury in Jacksonville, Fla., indicted John Tyler Pennywitt on October 5. He was accused of shining a handheld laser pointer at a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office helicopter on the night of June 3, 2012. Pennywitt was indicted under a section of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that makes it a federal crime to aim a laser at an aircraft, or even into the path of an aircraft.
L-3 Communications, Fraport (owner of Frankfurt Airport and other airports), Lufthansa German Airlines, and Lufthansa Technik, with Airbus support, have teamed to jointly test a technology demonstrator, which might lead to a new way for aircraft to taxi. The group successfully tested a new method of ground operations using electric motors installed on an Airbus A320. It was the first known time electric motors were installed on the main landing gear of a commercial aircraft and used to provide all necessary aircraft ground movement.
Southwest Airlines says it will be the first major airline to widely use a wireless, ground-support communications system to improve safety and operational efficiency during pushback operations. The airline plans to deploy the Flightcom pushback system for commercial aviation at 425 gates at 73 airports in the U.S. by the first quarter of 2012.
Hydrogenics, a Toronto design and manufacturing firm, has won a contract to supply 65-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cells for aircraft tow tractors. The contract is from the U.S. Department of Defense Fuel Cell Test and Evaluation Center, operated by Concurrent Technologies (CTC). The Hydrogenics fuel cell module will be mated to a CTC aircraft tug to be used in demonstrations at air force bases and civilian airports in conjunction with the U.S.
A new tool from London Gatwick-based Avtura (Stand W332F) can help airlines manage aircraft turnarounds and optimize the time between landing and takeoff.
Embraer ERJ 135LR, Newark, N.J., July 24, 2006–The NTSB determined that the captain of the American Eagle ERJ 135 failed to follow company procedures, which resulted in pushback with the parking brake set. An additional factor was the use of a larger tug than preferred for the regional jet. The airplane skidded about 14 inches.