An innovative new system that is designed to transport aircraft from the runway via the taxiway to the airport gates and back to the runway without the use of the aircraft’s main jet engines could drastically improve airport throughput, said Vince Howie, CEO of Aircraft Towing Systems World Wide LLC.
Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow, he said: “It’s a track channel system that goes underneath the taxiway to take aircraft from the runway to the gate and back to the runway without the use of their jet engine.
“I’ve been working on it now for about six years myself. We started in 2016, where we had an idea and we incorporated in Oklahoma, I formed an LLC there. And that same year, we put Oklahoma State University on contract to do all the design development work.
“I worked it part time on the side, I was the aerospace and defence director for the state of Oklahoma during that period. Fast forward four years, and it’s time to work. Somebody had to work full time so I left the state and became the CEO and now I’ve been working full time for the past two years.”
Commenting on the benefits it can bring to airports and airlines, Howie added: “There’s no more marshalling crews, there’s no more tugs and tow bars. So you don’t have to wait on that.
“We tow aircraft at the same speed they taxi at today, so about 20 miles an hour. We had Oklahoma State University look at that and say, ‘Okay, what does that do to throughput in airports?’ Because if you look at what we’re doing, we’re automating a totally manual system right now.
“Typically, when an aircraft comes in, it’s passed off between three and four people before it ever gets to the gate. The pilot drives on his own about 80 per cent of the time autonomously.
“So you take that along with the time saving and optimising of the gates. We they calculated that we can improve throughput in airports up to 30 per cent as long as they’re not constrained by runways.”
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