Airliner Gets Electric Drive
LE BOURGET, France — While it didn’t steal the show in Paris this week, a ho-hum Airbus A320 that never went faster than an easy jog could subtly change the airline industry.
The airplane was equipped with a new electric taxiing system, a joint venture from U.S.-based Honeywell and French firm Safran, making a super-efficient commute from the terminal to the runway and back.
The airplane performed quietly and slowly each day, taxiing by the crowd with its engines covered to prove that it wasn’t using any thrust to crawl along. The companies say the first benefit is dramatically cutting fuel use while taxiing and waiting for take off. And by using the electric motors on each of the main gear to move the airplane, the main engines don’t need to be switched on until the airplane is close to the runway and ready to take off. They can also be shut down soon after landing, and the airplane can taxi to the gate simply under electric power.
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