The European company WheelTug has developed a new system for towing aircraft without a tractor. Although it sounds illogical at first, it is a system that is installed on the wheels of the nose gear and it becomes the tractor of the plane to move it forward and backward on the ground, it can even travel towards the runway with the engines off to reduce consumption. The system operates with the electrical energy it generates through the Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU for short.
Now it has achieved a new milestone, since the Spanish company AlbaStar will be the first operator of the system in Europe. The system is easily installed on the nose gear wheels, simply add electric motors that do not alter the measurements of the wheels. AlbaStar will first install them on its fleet of 5 Boeing 737-800s, with the option to exercise their rights later with their new Airbus A220s.
In addition to the electric motors in the wheels, the company installs cameras and a sensor system so that the pilots can have better situational awareness around and under the plane, in order to be able to carry out the movements safely without the need for ground personnel directing the movements.
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