It may not grab the headlines as much the announcement of a new aircraft but ‘the electric green’ aircraft taxiing system under development by Honeywell and Safran will significantly improve an airline’s operational efficiency by reducing fuel and other taxi related costs, while providing environmental benefits by slashing the carbon and other emissions created during taxi operations.

The two companies have set up a joint venture, EGTS International, to develop an autonomous electric pushback and taxiing system for the Airbus A320 family of aircraft. The new company has signed an agreement with aircraft maker to offer the new system as the ‘eTaxi’ option on the aircraft. e-Taxi would allow the aircraft’s pilots to push-back from the gate without a tug, taxi-out to the runway and return to the gate after landing without operating the main engines, using the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit to power electric motors fitted to the main landing gear wheels.

By fitting this new system aircraft operators will cut their fuel bill – and CO2 emissions – by up to 4% per trip and speed up airport operations, according to EGTS International, as they will no longer have to rely on pushback tractors to move the aircraft from the airport terminal gate on to the taxiways. Taxiing-related carbon and nitrogen oxide emissions will be cut by more than half. Pilots will keep full control of their aircraft’s speed and direction during taxi operations.