On Wednesday, SpiceJet announced its tie-up with WheelTug which will provide the electric taxiing system. (HT FILE)
On Wednesday, SpiceJet announced its tie-up with WheelTug which will provide the electric taxiing system. (HT FILE)

After IndiGo, SpiceJet opts for electric taxiing to save fuel

Experts say the electric taxiing system helps reduce emissions, save fuel and improve efficiency of ground operations.
By Neha LM Tripathi, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 01:05 AM IST

SpiceJet this week became the second low-budget airline after IndiGo to deploy the electric taxiing system, a technology for taxiing in and out of runways without engine power. Experts say the electric taxiing system helps reduce emissions, save fuel and improve efficiency of ground operations.

On Wednesday, SpiceJet announced its tie-up with WheelTug which will provide the system. The airline asked WheelTug to reserve 400 production slots for electric taxi system. This will enable the airline to save fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions and noise levels. “By inducting WheelTug into its Boeing 737 operations, the company aims to reduce the fuel burn during taxi. SpiceJet gate and stand operations will be faster and more dependable helping the airline eliminate unexpected long delays affecting the schedule on any given day,” said a SpiceJet spokesperson.

The WheelTug system places high-torque motors in the nose wheels of the aircraft. Pilots control the aircraft, perform ground operations without requiring tugs for manoeuvres. Since jet engines are turned off, the electric taxiing system lowers the aircraft’s emissions. A former engineer with a full-service carrier explained that with this system, neither the jet engines nor a tow tractor needs to be used.

Last February, IndiGo had signed a letter of intent reserving 1,084 WheelTug systems.

A former Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said, “Use of tugs will allow a substantial amount of fuel to be saved. However, giving an exact percentage of fuel consumption will be difficult at the moment.” He added, “Utilisation of aircraft will definitely be better with these electrical tugs.”

Electric taxiing is expected to enable aircraft to move in and out of gates faster, which will help optimise the limited tarmac availability at Indian airports. Airlines would be able to run more efficient ground operations and reduce delays caused by ground equipment, which should make it possible for operations to be run more tightly.

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