Electric taxiing: economical and quiet
A Boeing 737 uses around 200,000 litres of fuel while taxiing each year. Unlike fuel for normal flight, the litres used when taxiing could perhaps be avoided. For this reason, KLM hopes to test a system at the start of 2014 designed to enable aircraft to taxi using electric power.
Together with WheelTug (http://www.wheeltug.gi/index.shtml), we're exploring the option of installing such a system in aircraft. Not only would the use of an electric system save fuel, it would also drastically reduce noise levels and CO2 emissions.
Development has just begun for WheelTug with this innovation. The system has yet to be certified and it must be shown that there are no potentially negative consequences for aircraft operations. Once these bridges have been crossed, the electrical engine can be tested in practice.
The WheelTug weighs around 140 kilograms, which means more fuel consumption during flight. The pros and cons of the electric system will indeed have to be carefully weighed up.
For the Boeing 737 fleet
If the trial proves to be a success, KLM would consider purchasing the WheelTug system for all its Boeing 737s. We’re also looking into other options, including integration of an electric engine in the main landing gear unit.
Either way, aircraft will not be the first vehicles to use electric power at Schiphol. As part of a broader trial, KLM’s Ground Service Equipment has been running on electric ground transport since last year. (http://www.klmtakescare.com/nl/content/professional-passionates-electric-rally).