Safran and Honeywell have delayed by two years the planned entry into service of their electric green taxiing system (EGTS), a device designed to enable an airplane to taxi with its engines shut down. On May 28, AIN saw the Airbus A320 aircraft that the EGTS International joint venture had used as a testbed without its engines near Air France Industries' maintenance facility at Toulouse Airport in France.
“The team is still working on the program with a goal of certification in 2018 and entry into service shortly after,” a Honeywell spokesperson told AIN. An Airbus executive in February said it offered the system to customers as an option dubbed eTaxi. Early last year, EGTS International was still citing 2016 as the target for the first delivery.
Unlike the competing WheelTug system, the EGTS has its motors installed on the main landing gear for optimal traction, according to its designers. The auxiliary power unit feeds the motors with electric power. In addition to a claimed 62-percent fuel savings in the taxiing phase, benefits with the EGTS would theoretically include reduced engine wear as ground operations easily cause foreign object damage – and eliminating the hazard posed by engine blast near the gate.
Meanwhile, the TaxiBot system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries with France's TLD and Lufthansa LEOS is now in initial commercial service with Lufthansa at Frankfurt Airport in Germany. The partners hold a supplemental type certificate covering operations under FAR 25 rules on the Boeing 737.
Wheeltug has partnered with Air Transat, which has agreed to supply a Boeing 737-800 as a testbed for the certification program. The U.S. company has loosely scheduled entry into service of its system, on order by 22 airlines, for “two years from now.” Thanks to its motor’s location on the nosewheel, Wheeltug claims its system provides better maneuverability. The resulting time saving at the gate will prove even more valuable than fuel savings, it adds.