In the air, the Airbus A320 passenger plane is one of the most fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft that airlines can invest in.
On the ground, however, Airbus found a way to make at least the Airbus A320 series plane even more fuel-efficient, but not using the main engines. Of course, the only way that Airbus can get away with this is thanks to a new electric taxi system developed by a Safran / Honeywell joint venture, EGTS. When aircraft land, they first taxi from the runway to the gate by using the thrust of the main engines. In the case of the A320, this burns ≈600kg/hr (kilograms per hour). One limitation of this taxi method is the fact that the engines can only thrust forward, so the plane can’t back out from the gate once the plane is ready for takeoff. It needs a tug to do that, which also burns fuel.
Airbus invests hundreds of millions of dollars, every year, to make their aircraft as fuel-efficient as possible in the air, so it only makes sense to do something about the Airbus A320 on the ground. The Safran / Honeywell EGTS (Electric Green Taxi System) eliminates the needs for running the main engines on the ground, as well as the need for the tugs to push the craft back from the gate when ready for takeoff. Here’s a video of the electric taxi system in operation…
Airbus estimates that, on the ground, the Airbus A320, equipped with EGTS’ eTaxi, will be more than twice as fuel-efficient. The eTaxi system uses electricity generated by the auxiliary power unit, which only burns ≈100kg/hr (the main engines burn ≈600kg/hr). To achieve “more than twice as fuel-efficient” status with eTaxi, the Airbus A320 will probably idle the main engines until ready for takeoff. One limitation of the system seems to be power, insufficient to push mid- and long-range aircraft and heavy cargo craft. For now, the Airbus A320 will be testing the viability of the eTaxi system on the A320 series, both as a retrofit option and as a factory option.
Image © EGTS (Screenshot)