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Electric taxiing and ground operations


Technology Description

Another electrification effort that would reduce fuel use and emissions is electric taxiing. Safran is developing an electric taxiing system in which an electric motor, mounted to the landing gear, is used rather than the aircraft engine on ground operations. This is more energy efficient than using the aircraft's main engines and makes the aircraft autonomous from towing trucks, thus reducing delays at airports. The electric engine is operated with the APU (auxiliary power unit) and the equipment increases aircraft weight by 400 kg. Safran estimates possible fuel savings of 4% per flight and aircraft, for short-haul aircraft that do six-seven flights a day and spend a significant amount of time at airports. Safran, together with Airbus, intended to start offering this system in the A320 family to airlines in the near future. However the project was shelved in late 2019. The additional equipment weight makes electric taxiing attractive for aircraft with many short flights and long taxiing times, but recent industry trends are towards fewer, non-stop flights over longer distances.

Relevance for Net Zero

While the technology seems to be proven, barriers may be operational - airlines want aircraft that are very flexible, so even if most trips of single aisle aircraft are on routes on which the technology makes sense, airlines won't necessarily adopt it if the aircraft are thus not useful on a few very short-haul routes where weight increase makes the technology unattractive.

Key Countries

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