WheelTug Announces Airplane E-Taxi System Certification Plans

January 10, 2017 by Jeff Shepard

Gibraltar-based WheelTug Limited announced today 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 in-wheel-motor system 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. WheelTug's order book already totals almost 1,000 systems for aircraft from 22 airlines worldwide.

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 $1 million 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 system represents the most significant improvement in aircraft ground handling in decades. It will allow airlines to reduce overall time on the ground. This greater time certainty will permit airlines to improve schedule reliability as well as fleet productivity. WheelTug will also reduce noise, emissions, and safety risks.

The FAA Seattle Aircraft Certification Office has approved the Project Specific Certification Plans for the WheelTug 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, WheelTug can be installed on aircraft.