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WheelTug makes flying faster

WheelTug reduces the time an airplane spends on the ground, allowing it to spend more time in the air. The WheelTug system includes small electric motors in the nosewheels that enable an aircraft to drive forward and backward without using its engines or external tugs. This enables pilots to pushback and maneuver around the gate without tug or engine delays. The time savings can be dramatic -- allowing airlines to get more out of their aircraft and passengers to get more out of their day.
How does it save time?

Pushback is inefficient and complex. Airlines use tugs to push back aircraft. Even when everything goes perfectly, the process involves connecting the tug and communications links, pushing back the aircraft, disconnecting the tug and communications links, removing safety pins, securing permission to start rolling and actually beginning the aircraft taxi. And there are many opportunities for delay - from bathroom breaks to broken towbars to jet blast from nearby aircraft delaying pushback clearance. It takes 13 minutes for 98% of pushbacks to be complete.

An aircraft with WheelTug can pushback in one minute; without a tug. This saves time during pushback as well as the pre-pushback delay from ground crew: a minimum of 7 minutes each flight.
Time is money
Airlines that save time, save money. With WheelTug, they can enjoy higher aircraft utilization and reduced running costs while airports enjoy greater terminal utilization.

Passengers also benefit. During pushback: the aircraft isn't going anywhere useful; passenger tray tables must be up; their laptops must be stowed and they can't move about the cabin. By cutting this wasted time, everybody benefits.

Just how valuable is this?

Airlines.org estimates the direct cost of delay at $81/minute. This excludes passenger benefits. The FAA estimates that the value of time to an average passenger is $0.60/minute to $0.90/minute. With 130 passengers on a typical narrowbody flight, the passenger value is $78/minute. While not all time savings will equally impact airline revenues, noticeably reducing dead time and the risks of delay will provide a competitive advantage with time-conscious travelers. Total savings are thus $159/minute.
Why haven't airlines done this before?

Before WheelTug, the industry hadn't realized that something could be done to significantly cut pushback time. When measuring ground performance, airlines often rely on turnaround time (TAT). This is the time from doors open to doors closed. Many have traditionally not measured total ground time (TGT). This is the time from landing (wheels down) to take-off (wheels up). With WheelTug, airlines have realized that TGT can be cut. Today 22 airlines with 976 aircraft are WheelTug customers.

When can I see them on my airline?

WheelTug expects entry-into-service in approximately two years, starting with these airlines.

Want to learn more?

We're always available to answer questions.

If you would like to be notified when WheelTug-equipped flights are available (and hear about what's happening between now and then) please feel free to contact us.