Article and photo from our engineering partner ATI. Originally posted at https://www.atimetals.com/newsroom/Pages/No-One-Likes-To-Be-Grounded.aspx
ATI’s titanium and forging expertise is reducing the time planes spend on the ground, maximizing the revenue-earning time they spend in the sky.
Airplanes hurtle at 550 miles an hour over millions of miles of airspace, ensuring both people and products reach their destination. When in the air, airplanes operate with unrivaled efficiency: but what about when they’re on the ground?
It’s estimated that every minute a plane spends on the ground costs airlines hundreds of dollars, without generating revenue to offset those costs. Contributing to the inefficiency: planes must power up the engine to maneuver forward and depend on towing devices to push them back from the gates. Precious minutes – and dollars – are lost as they’re literally stuck waiting for the towing device, called an aircraft tow tug, to get them on their way. The aerospace industry has tried to address this issue for decades. Now, WheelTug is close to a solution with an in-wheel electric taxi system made possible by ATI’s forging capabilities and materials science expertise.
Now, WheelTug is close to a solution with an in-wheel electric taxi system made possible by ATI’s forging capabilities and materials science expertise.
Let’s back up.
Aircraft and airports alike benefit from the increased efficiency that the WheelTug system makes possible. As the world saw during WheelTug’s Test Drive on September 15, the system’s power enables aircrafts to pull in and out of the gate from a halted position, as well as pirouette in place – or perform the unique “twirl” and “twist” maneuvers that eliminate the need for reverse taxiing where space allows. Using twin electric motors installed in the aircraft’s nose wheels, the WheelTug system reliably and predictably powers the aircraft’s movements, providing savings in ground turnaround time, increased aircraft utilization and improved safety.
Airplanes fly in all sorts of weather and the complex mechanics of the WheelTug system are constantly exposed to the elements. It’s critical that its materials meet quality and corrosion-resistant requirements to ensure longevity. Plus, getting a 200,000-lb aircraft rolling isn’t exactly light work. Enter ATI titanium, which delivers the incredible lightweight strength and durability the WheelTug system depends on without sacrificing performance.
At our facility in Cudahy, WI, we’re making history as we forge titanium for the outside plate of the wheel and the inside flange connecting the plates to the aerospace industry’s first commercial aircraft wheels made of titanium. Our material and our end-product deliver an end-to-end solution that not only solves our partner’s challenge but will also make it possible for the aerospace industry to solve its decades-long conundrum.
Through our partnership with WheelTug, we’re enabling faster loading, faster pushbacks and increased safety every time a plane gets ready to take to the sky.
And hey – we’re solving challenges up there, too. Efficiency in the air and on the ground? That’s Relentless Innovation.