Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson”s scheme to save airlines fuel by towing aircraft from the gate to the runway holding point could be the take off for a project being developed by Gibraltar-based WheelTug plc in conjunction with Boeing.
First reported by ABTN in summer 2005 the unit is a fully integrated ground propulsion system actually built into the aircraft. It will give ”planes of all sizes full ground mobility (forward & reverse with steering) without turbines or external tugs.
Not requiring any airframe modifications, and part of the forward bogie system, it is powered by the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). Earlier this year WheelTug announced a tie-up with the UK division of Semikron, one of the world leading manufacturers of power electronics. Wheeltug Plc is 98% owned by Chorus Motors plc, itself a subsidiary of Borealis Exploration Limited.