I am not at the Paris Air Show, but if I were I would be at the double-decker WheelTug booth watching people gawk.
There’s a nosewheel spinning with the LED-lighted WheelTug hubcab to catch attention (and so ground personnel, someday, will instantly know when a jet is being powered by WheelTug rather than by jet exhaust).
There’s an elaborate airport model, at 1/72 scale, kind of like a kid’s model train layout, only with a plane instead of a train moving around. Who can resist stopping to look at that?
And, for those sufficiently intrigued to stay and watch a 6-minute video, there’s this simulation that you can watch without having to go to Paris.
It shows how WheelTug — we hope — will save between 8 and 20 minutes each time a plane unloads and loads passengers.
Every extra minute on the ground costs airlines a good chunk of money — I’ve seen estimates from $30 a minute to upwards of $100 — so that could mean anywhere from $518,000 in savings per year for a plane that makes 6 flights a day ($30 times 8 minutes times 7 flights for each of 360 days) to $4.3 million ($100 times 20 minutes times 6 flights for each of 360 days) . . . before figuring any savings on fuel, engine maintenance, and foreign object damage . . . and before assigning any value to the environmental benefits (less fuel, fumes, and noise), the increased passenger satisfaction, or the increased airport capacity (more flights without having to build more terminals).
Multiply these benefits over 5,000 short-haul jets (say), and you have annual savings on the order of $3 billion to $25 billion a year.
Will WheelTug ever actually pull this off and realize some share of those savings? Will all commercial jets, not just 5,000 of them, someday have the capability to maneuver independently without having to wait for a tug? (And without violating WheelTug patents?) This is what shareholders in WheelTug grandparent Borealis, currently valued at $40 million or so, are patiently waiting to see.