Wings Magazine

WheelTug wheels in another major deal

March 14, 2013, Gibraltar, U.K. - U.K.-based WheelTug has received a firm order from an undisclosed Boeing 737NG operator for 135 aircraft drive systems, which allows an aeroplane to be electrically driven from the terminal gate to the takeoff runway.

March 14, 2013  By

This deal increases the backlog of WheelTug Aircraft Drive Systems to around 450 delivery slots, reserved by eight airlines with others currently under discussions.

The WheelTug electric drive system features high-performance electric motors, installed in the nose gear wheels of an aircraft to provide full mobility to the aircraft while on the ground, eliminating the need for aircraft's jet engines or tugs for both pushback and taxi operations.

The existing commercial aviation practice uses a tug for aircraft gate pushback, while forward taxi is powered by the aeroplane's engines.

It is estimated that a taxiing Airbus A320 or Boeing 737NG burns 24lb to 27lb of fuel a minute.


The WheelTug system, which uses the aircraft's auxiliary power unit (APU), requires four pounds of fuel a minute, offering an 80 per cent reduction in ground operation fuel consumption.

Using WheelTug Aircraft Drive Systems also offers substantial reduction in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, as well as increased safety and flexibility of operations, faster turnaround times, reduced engine wear and repair costs, and decreased noise pollution.

This system would offer total savings of around $700,000 for each airliner per annum, according to WheelTug.

In June 2012, WheelTug successfully installed and tested the first in-wheel system in Prague.

WheelTug systems are offered to the airlines on a lease, or power-by-the-hour basis, so that the systems can be used without any capital expenditure on the part of the airline.

WheelTug, founded in 2005, operates as a subsidiary of Chorus Motors, manufactures electric drive systems that are used to move aircraft on the ground.


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