Stirling Dynamics has signed a contract with WheelTug to design a new nose wheel for Boeing 737NG aircraft, which will feature WheelTug’s electric taxi system. The system, which is composed of a motor and drive mounted to the nose wheel and powered via an aircraft auxiliary power unit, allows pilots to pushback and maneuver around the gate without using an aircraft’s engines or external tugs.
WheelTug says the system can provide ground time savings of up to 20 minutes between flights, leading to reduced costs, fuel consumption and emissions.
Stirling’s broad range of engineering services includes specialization in landing gear design and analysis, which the company will draw on to help WheelTug design and achieve certification for the new nose wheel. WheelTug says the nose wheel is expected to be certificated and ready for service in advance of the rest of the WheelTug system, which is on track to be completed by mid-2019.
The system’s certification plans were approved by the FAA in early 2017. Nearly 1,000 orders for the system already have been placed by 22 airlines and versions for aircraft other than the 737NG are planned for the future.