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Press Release


Gibraltar, 14 June 2015. Airplanes today spend a lot of time on the ground between flights, unloading passengers and baggage, refueling, then loading new passengers and baggage. A typical scheduled airliner now spends from 40 minutes to an hour at the terminal between flights, at a cost of up to $120 a minute.

That ground time and cost can be reduced sharply with the revolutionary WheelTug® aircraft electric drive system, which will enable aircraft to parallel park at terminals, using two doors and two jet bridges to unload and load passengers, reducing an aircraft's ground time by as much as 20 minutes per flight cycle.

By using doors at both the front and rear of the airplane, passengers will be able to board and deplane more quickly, reducing the time they spend aboard an aircraft. Surveys show that what fliers most dislike about flying is the time spent waiting at the aircraft to get off as well as a hassle to board using just the front aircraft door on a single aisle aircraft.

At its exhibit at the Paris Air Show this week (Hall 5, E250), WheelTug will be demonstrating, with both models and simulations, how its systems will reduce on-the-ground times and costs for both airlines and passengers. One simulation compares the total ground turnaround times for aircraft with and without WheelTug systems (and can be found at http://media.wheeltug.com).

Faster Boarding Possible

WheelTug will make double-door boarding and deplaning possible by enabling airplanes to 'twist' at the terminal, turning 90 degrees and parking parallel to the terminal. This enables the use of doors at both front and rear of the airplane, and two jet bridges in the terminal, to speed passenger loading and unloading. Before WheelTug, this maneuver has been impractical and unsafe because of jet blast from the aircraft's engines.

The WheelTug system eliminates jet blast around the terminal by using twin electric motors in an aircraft's nosewheels to drive it from the gate to the runway, and upon landing from the runway exit to the gate. This enables numerous improvements in efficiency, flexibility, safety, fuel savings, reduced engine wear and damage, as well as substantial reductions in airport noise and greenhouse gas emissions.

The WheelTug system also saves both time and cost by removing the need for a tow tug. Because WheelTug enables an aircraft to drive both forward and backward, an aircraft will not need to connect to a tug, be pushed backward onto the ramp, then wait for the tug to be disconnected; eliminating these maneuvers will save several minutes per flight.

Large Savings for Airlines

With full exploitation of its benefits by airlines and airports, WheelTug is expected to save airlines as much as 20 minutes per flight cycle, or up to $2,000 per cycle which is over $3 million saved per year per aircraft. (For comparison, the total fuel consumption for a typical B-737 aircraft is about 1,400 gallons, which at $1.80 per gallon costs about $2,500 per flight, or $4.3 million per year.)

More than 20 airlines worldwide so far have signed preliminary orders for WheelTug systems for installation on 976 aircraft. Initial systems are being developed for the Boeing 737NG family and the Airbus A320 family of commercial aircraft. WheelTug systems are being offered to airlines on a lease or a power-by-the-hour basis, enabling installation and operation without any capital expenditure by the airline.

The WheelTug system is being developed by WheelTug plc, a majority-owned subsidiary of Chorus Motors plc, which invented the powerful electric motors WheelTug uses; both companies are based in Gibraltar. More information about WheelTug can be found on its website at http://www.wheeltug.gi.

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