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Electric plane motors could save fuel and reduce delays

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Drones weren't the only things on display at the Paris Air Show this week. As Wired reports, experimental electric motors were being demonstrated that would allow planes to taxi to and from the runway without needing to power up their regular engines. The Electric Green Taxiing System (EGTS) consists of a pair of 50 kVA motors mounted between the wheels in a planes landing gear. Developed by Honeywell and aerospace specialists Safran, it's claimed EGTS will cut fuel consumption by more than 150 gallons per day in a multi-flight aircraft such as the Airbus A320.

Honeywell and Safran believe this could amount to a four-percent fuel saving over the course of a year, also factoring in the effect the additional weight of the system has on planes' efficiency. EGTS is meant primarily for planes that fly shorter routes, taking off and landing multiple times per day, rather than the ocean-spanning giants that fly only once or twice a day.

The ability to maneuver unaided could cut down on delays

There's another benefit to the EGTS: it could cut down on airport delays. Safran's Olivier Savin explains that EGTS would negate the need for a tug to push or pull planes from gates, an issue that "often leads to delays for passengers." With the electric motors engaged, a pilot could reverse, turn, and steer the plane to the runway, all without assistance. "It's a big improvement of agility and maneuverability at the gate," says Savin. The system was first tested back in April, and has since moved the A320 it's attached to for around 100 miles. The next tests will ramp up the taxiing speed to 23 miles per hour and also increase the load of the airplane up to its maximum takeoff weight. EGTS' makers are currently in discussions with airplane manufacturers and airlines about introducing the system to their fleets.