The first section reviews Lufthansa’s giant TaxiBots, which lift the plane’s nose wheel off the ground and then drive the plane to its take-off area (driving back empty or maybe hanging around waiting for an arriving plane to hook up with and drive back to the gate).

The second section is on the 700-pound Honeywell/Safran system that will reside in the main landing gear alongside the mission-critical, super hot brakes.

The final section is about little WheelTug.  In contrast to Honeywell/Safran, it says, “The system’s savings come not from lower fuel burn but from quicker maneuvering on the ground.”  This is not true, of course; weighing less than half what the H/S system does, WheelTug should presumably burn even less fuel.  But it does at least hint at what could be the bigger savings: halving the time to board and deplane by allowing passengers to use both front AND rear door jet ways.

(The Journal also says, “Thirteen airlines—most of them low-cost discount carriers like Mexican airline Volaris—have reserved delivery positions for 731 aircraft.”  In fact, only one, Volaris, is a discount carrier.  The Journal didn’t mention KLM or El Al or Alitalia, etc.)

However incomplete, a story like this is — I hope! — just one more step as we inch toward making e-taxi a reality.  And to date, WheelTug does seem to have the most attractive solution.  If you own shares of WheelTug grandparent Borealis, hang in there.



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