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Delta 737NG's to Have Electric Drive Nosewheel in 2009...

Sedona16

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I was just reading Motor Trend and saw this. Its the first I have heard of this technology and Delta is the launch customer. Will allow to back up the airplane and "drive" to the departure end of the runway (up to 20 MPH) with only the APU (which sends electricity to the electric motor) running saving a lot of money). Has anybody else heard about this?

http://www.motortrend.com/features/editorial/112_0901_flying_hybrids_technologue/index.html

Technologue: Flying Hybrids!
What the Next-Gen Boeing 737 Jet-Fuel / Electric Airplane Portends for Highway Hybrids
By Frank Markus

You read that right. Vehicle hybridization has turned its CO2-reducing attentions to the air-travel industry. The next-generation Boeing 737 aircraft is being adapted for use as an external-combustion/electric hybrid, with the small on-board auxiliary-power unit turbine generating enough electricity to propel the aircraft under certain circumstances at speeds of up to 20 mph. Okay, taxiing under electric power may not seem glamorous, but trust me, you'll love it.

Imagine being able to leave the gate as soon as the last overstuffed suitcase has been jammed into an overhead bin without waiting for an airport tug and driver to push the plane out to the active taxiway. Green-minded travelers will love the fact that letting electric motors tow them all the way out to the runway saves tons of CO2 and precious jet fuel. One estimate suggests that leaving a new 737's wing engines off while taxiing and idling before takeoff could save 200 pounds of fuel per flight, eliminating 500-1000 tons of CO2 per plane per year depending on its flight schedule.

Other cost savings include reduced brake wear, no damage from clumsy airport-tug operators, and reduced turn-around time because ground personnel won't have to wait for engines to cool. All together, total monthly savings could reach $60,000, according to Isaiah Cox, CEO of WheelTug, the subsidiary of Chorus Motors plc., which is developing the concept. Surely some of that savings will trickle down to lower ticket prices.

So how does an electric wheel motor small enough to go up and down on a plane's landing gear manage to pack enough punch to accelerate a 300,000-pound aircraft to 20 mph? With black magic and witchcraft (well, their words are "mesh-connected windings" and "fundamental harmonics"-visit chorusmotors.com). These esoteric concepts combine to deliver the efficient low-speed torque of a permanent magnet motor (such as the ones in most hybrid cars) with the light weight, lower cost, and better high-speed performance of an AC induction motor (as in the Tesla and Chevy Volt).

Electric motors create a rotating magnetic field that pushes a permanent or electromagnet around and around. Electronics control the field's strength and speed to vary output torque. For a traditional motor's electromagnetic-field winding, rotor size, etc., it produces a certain peak torque that falls off above a certain speed. The new Chorus Meshcon motor's "mesh-connected" winding is unique. Instead of a fixed three-phase design like your shop air-compressor uses, it's wound in such a way that the inverter can treat it as though there are many more phases-say 12 or 18-and the software virtually "rewires" it on the fly changing the number of magnetic poles and the alternating-current frequency, so that at low speed it provides big DC-type torque, and at high speed it delivers AC-induction performance. The inverter control works like a virtual transmission, delivering big starting torque while efficiently providing strong cruising torque at all other times in a smaller, lighter, cheaper package that requires no transmission, cooling circuit, or precious rare-earth materials.

These characteristics make it ideally suited to serial hybrid cars like the Volt, employing a small combustion engine operating at peak efficiency to provide the energy for cruising and maybe using ultracapacitors to supply burst-torque energy. Chorus reckons that ditching the pricey plug-in battery and applying the cost savings of the Meshcon motor could produce a 50-mpg serial-hybrid that's competitive with Camry and Accord on both performance and price.

Delta Airlines will get the first WheelTug-equipped 737s by late 2009, and at least one automaker is talking with Chorus as we go to press. Let's hope it's GM, working on that club-sport, plugless Volt.
 
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Sedona16

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Delta Looks to Simplify Tow and Tug Processes on Taxiways

http://www.chorusmotors.gi/press/pr_070329.shtml

Ability to Drive Aircraft on Taxiways Will Help Airline Reduce Flight Delays and Fuel Consumption

GIBRALTAR -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 03/29/2007 -- WheelTug plc and Delta Air Lines entered into an agreement in which the airline will assist WheelTug in developing a new system that has the potential to enable pilots to back away from gates without a tow tug, and taxi to and from takeoff and landing points without using jet engines.

The new WheelTug™ system aims to reduce fuel consumption, noise and emissions in airport terminal areas and taxiways, as well as reduce airport and gate congestion that can lead to reduced ground equipment delays.

"Certainly we expect this to be a 'win' for us on the business side by reducing our costs, but we're also excited about the potential for removing some complexity from gate operations for our ground personnel and doing it in an environmentally friendly fashion," said Walt Klein, Delta's director of Quality, Engineering and Training.

Full development and approval of the system is expected sometime in 2009 and Delta, as WheelTug's launch customer, could begin installing the system on its fleet of B-737NG aircraft as early as late 2009.

The WheelTug system includes powerful electric motors in the airplane's nose wheel that will enable pilots to back away from gates without a tow tug and then taxi to their takeoff, or a remote start point before starting the airplane's engines. After landing, the pilot can turn off the jet engines and use the system to drive the airplane to its gate.

Further, the agreement gives Delta the right of first refusal to provide installation and maintenance services on WheelTug systems for itself and for other airlines that desire such services. Delta already performs maintenance for more than 100 customers and this could serve as another opportunity to continue to grow its maintenance insourcing business. Delta has also acquired warrants to buy 600,000 shares of WheelTug plc at an average price of $36 per share.

Isaiah W. Cox, president of WheelTug, said, "We are delighted that Delta is our U.S. development partner. Delta's passengers will be the first to realize its benefits, and we believe that over time WheelTug will provide welcome benefits to all fliers, airlines, and airports."
 
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FmrFreightDog

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I think I remember Southwest considering this several years back before oil skyrocketed and decided it wasn't cost effective with the price of oil at the time. Granted, oil is cheap now as well but who knows what the future holds. Plus, environmentally it's a great idea.
 

Whataburger

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I think I remember Southwest considering this several years back before oil skyrocketed and decided it wasn't cost effective with the price of oil at the time. Granted, oil is cheap now as well but who knows what the future holds. Plus, environmentally it's a great idea.

Plus 20mph is Waaaayyyyy too slow!!!! We'd need Tim the Tool Man to boost that up a bit.
 

Sedona16

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I think I remember Southwest considering this several years back before oil skyrocketed and decided it wasn't cost effective with the price of oil at the time. Granted, oil is cheap now as well but who knows what the future holds. Plus, environmentally it's a great idea.

The Motor Trend article just came out in the Jan 2009 edition (assuming the author was on his game he accounted for current fuel prices). In the article it says savings of $60,000 a month can be achieved. This doesnt sound out of line considering the cost of running an engine when waiting in line at some of the more congested airports. With this technology BOTH engines stay off until right before takeoff (accounting for proper warm up time of course).
 

CA1900

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Surely some of that savings will trickle down to lower ticket prices.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
<GASP>
hahahahahaha....

The airlines--the ones that are dicking me for $2 for a glass of water--are going to pass along the savings to me?


Hahahaha... :laugh:
 

Sedona16

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Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
<GASP>
hahahahahaha....

You really think the airlines that are dicking me for $2 for a glass of water are going to pass along the savings?


:laugh:

You just quoted speculation by the author which I think is wishful thinking. The airlines will keep existing, increase and retain every penny they can in this environment.
 

Jetjockey

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Sedona16

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20 mph is fast enough for the reverse gear.

I realize this isnt the way the technolgy works (its more like a snowmobile) but it would look cool to have a shift lever on the pedastal (eight ball shifter knob) and a "gas" pedal on the far right side of the floor.;)
 

atpcliff

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Hi!

About a year ago, I read about Boeing testing this equipment out, and posted it, somewhere.

When jet engines run on the groud, they burn A LOT of fuel, produce A LOT of greenhouse gases, and make a lot of noise.

Virgin America has already been towing 747s to the runway via tug, and then starting up close to takeoff time.

cliff
YIP
 

nonstop

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Are they gonna install rear view mirrors too?

We have outsourced $8/hour rampers who can clear us to blindly reverse. That blank stare they have just means they're concentrating extra hard on their peripheral vision scan.
 
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