WHEELTUG plc AND PRAGUE AIRPORT CONSULTING COMPLETE INITIAL ANALYSIS OF WHEELTUG® BENEFITS AT PRAGUE AIRPORT

PRAGUE, 14 March 2012 

Prague Airport Consulting together with WheelTug plc released a video simulation which shows the findings of the initial analysis of WheelTug® and the benefits it provides Prague Airport.  

The video of the simulation can be found at http://youtu.be/iqZdLCbcub4 and at http://media.wheeltug.gi

For the Prague Airport Authority, the results are very encouraging as they identify the positive impact of WheelTug® both on airline and airport operations levels. The benefits that will accrue to the Prague Airport Authority include:

  • Reduced noise pollutions and emissions, especially NOX and CO2,  by at least 67%.
  • Increased capacity utilization and higher number of movements at the taxiways. At Prague Airport it is expected that the gate and taxiway throughput will increase by a minimum of 2.7%. 
  • Significantly increased safety of ground personnel through eliminated jet blast, safety pins and other safety concerns inherently linked with traditional push back operations and jet engine taxi today
  • Minimizing risks of push-back errors and damage to aircraft 
  • No jet blast danger to enclosed areas (i.e. reverse thrust taxi)
  • No risk of engine damage from FOD, therefore significantly reduced engine wear and repairs costs and also increased in-flight engine efficiency

In addition to previously identified savings specific to both airlines and aircraft owners of approximately US$500,000/month/aircraft, WheelTug® will clearly provide additional tangible and quantifiable benefits to the airport.

Based on the result of the analysis, Prague Airport, one of the WheelTug cooperation partners, is considering introduction of a special incentive scheme for aircraft equipped with the WheelTug® system.  

Prague Airport Consulting also teamed with WheelTug plc on the incorporation of the WheelTug® system into the airport ground operations and air traffic management procedures in order to smooth the entry of the WheelTug® into service.  WheelTug plc is planning to introduce its WheelTug® system on the Boeing 737NG as the first aircraft type in 2013.

Jiri POS, Director General of Prague Airport stated, “We have been supporting WheelTug in its electric taxi project since 2010. We always believed that this is not “just” a project for the airlines, but also the airports like ours can benefit from WheelTug a lot. Although being green and environmental friendly is very nice, we are also very happy that WheelTug® technology is also about to bring us very tangible economical benefits.”  

The patented WheelTug® electric drive system allows an aircraft to taxi backwards and forwards without the use of pushback tugs or main engines, from the terminal gate to the takeoff runway, and upon landing, from the runway exit to the gate.                                                                                                   

Normally a Boeing 737NG burns an average of 21 to 24 pounds of fuel per minute. In comparison, a Boeing 737NG equipped with a WheelTug® electric drive unit requires just four pounds per minute — an 80% reduction in ground operation fuel consumption.

Furthermore, WheelTug® dramatically reduces flight turn-around time compared to the current procedure, as airplanes will not wait for tugs and the tug attachment/detachment process. By eliminating pushback tug use, aircraft depart immediately upon tower approval, giving WheelTug-equipped aircraft a significant takeoff time advantage.   This is estimated at 5 minutes per flight minimum.  If an airport handles 20 departing flights per hour, the saving amounts to 100 operational minutes, and significantly lower noise and air pollution.

WheelTug® technology unlocks savings in several categories such as Fuel, Emissions, Time, FOD (engine damage), Brake Wear, etc.

With all this in mind, it is no wonder Tech Trends asserts: "It is therefore true to say that, in future, WheelTug will be an essential requirement at the drawing board stage for any future aircraft design."

Isaiah COX, CEO of WheelTug plc says, “Working with Prague Airport has allowed us to not only identify savings, but also to begin working on best practices and operational protocols that will allow airlines and airports to derive the greatest benefits in terms of cost, safety, noise, jet blast, and emissions. Airports are an integral part of the WheelTug team, and we look forward to continuing and growing our relationship with Prague Airport.”

Prague Airport Consulting is an integral part of Prague Airport. The experts at Prague Airport Consulting previously completed successful airport technical projects such as BETA, EMMA and EMMA2 in the 5th and 6th Framework Programme of the European Commission. These projects tested and developed new technologies for Airport Air Traffic Management. Prague Airport Consulting cooperates with several industry partners in the development of various new technologies, such as the Vehicle Onboard Guidance System for the safe and efficient movement of airport vehicles on the maneuvering area, regardless of the weather and visibility conditions.

A full listing of WheelTug risk-sharing development partner companies is on the company's website at www.wheeltug.gi as well as information on airline launch customers.