GIBRALTAR--(Marketwired - December 13, 2016) - "The Prophecy of Wilbur," an account of aviation history recently unearthed near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, tells how aviation has lifted mankind above the primordial ooze with great reliability.
Commercial aircraft perform wonderfully at 35,000 feet, but while aircraft are highly safe and efficient in the air, they are much less efficient when operating on the ground. At a conference in London last week, airline executives learned of a significant opportunity to improve efficiency between flights.
In a presentation to the Marketforce Future of Air Transport conference, the "Prophecy of Wilbur" revealed that the next big advances in aviation will come from ground operations, through faster and more efficient turnarounds between flights. Onboard electric drive systems will enable airlines to reduce costly ground times between flights, reduce schedule uncertainty, and boost aircraft productivity and profitability.
Airline executives learned that the new WheelTug® technology will enable a consistent gate pushback time of just 1 minute, thereby allowing scheduled flight turnaround time to be reduced by as much as 20 minutes.
Reporting on recent analyses of multiple airlines' performance, WheelTug CEO Isaiah Cox told conference attendees that the average flight requires 8 minutes from "ready for pushback" to forward motion. But the inefficiencies and scheduling uncertainties of that timing are even further-reaching: to ensure that at least 98% of flights achieve forward motion on schedule, airlines effectively budget 20 minutes for pushback.
By reducing complexity and uncertainty in ground operations, Mr. Cox explained that costly aircraft ground time can be sharply reduced, scheduling can be tightened, and in many cases an aircraft can make an additional flight per day, providing a considerable productivity boost.
Recent studies at several airports have found that most commercial airlines cannot reliably accomplish a gate turnaround in less than 40 minutes. But the WheelTug system can create new and significant time-saving opportunities beyond the traditional gate turnaround metric. By simplifying and speeding pushback and initial taxi operations, WheelTug can save up to 20 minutes per flight. The reduced complexity and greater predictability, he said, will allow for tighter scheduling, greater passenger capacity and aircraft productivity, and greater airport throughput capacity.
The Future of Air Transport presentation can be viewed at https://youtu.be/vVB0m5MWKTw .
The WheelTug onboard aircraft electric drive system is expected to save airlines from 7 to 20 minutes per flight depending on the extent of utilization. In addition, it will reduce costs, including engine maintenance and repair, brake wear, injuries, and fuel. Overall, the WheelTug system is projected to save well over $1 million per plane per year. The initial version for the Boeing 737NG family is expected to enter service in 2018, with an Airbus 320 version to follow thereafter.
Forward-looking statement at http://www.wheeltug.gi/fls.shtml