labels: News reports, Airports, Airlines
Airlines tow the line of a fuel-saving idea news
19 September 2008

The fuel saving idea is rather simple, and quite apparent, which would make you wonder why was it never done before. All it does is substitute a smaller engine, for larger ones.

An airliner burns gallons of jet fuel per minute during its taxiing around airports each year, burning huge loads of money. 

A small aviations service company is now offering a towing service for planes, that would help airlines cut fuel costs from taxiing around at O'Hare International Airport.

Based in Des Plaines, UST Aviation services, a four-year old maintenance firm that operates at O'Hare  is offering a towing service for planes. UST has acquired a high-speed push tractor that elevates a plane's nose gear off the tarmac and tows the jet with the plane's engines off.

The company's says airlines stand to save a load of money by allowing them to drive between O'Hare's passenger terminals and maintenance hangars.

Their logic is simple. A Boeing 757 taxiing on its own engines' power for a half-hour burns around 174 gallons of jet fuel, which costs roughly $700. 

Instead, the German-made tractor burns less than a half-gallon of diesel per minute, compared to almost 6 gallons of the more expensive jet fuel the Boeing 757 burns each minute while taxiing, says Mayank Tripathi, president of UST.

Multiply that with the 150-odd planes that are taxied for maintenance daily at O'Hare, the tractor would burn around 18 gallons of diesel per round trip, against 225 gallons of jet fuel if the plane has to make the journey on its own. The tractor bought by UST is capable of pushing planes as large as a Boeing 777, which weighs about 600,000 pounds fully loaded.

Chicago aviation officials are reported to be in support of the expanded use of the tractors, both for for economic as well as environmental reasons.

The tractors are to be used strictly to ferry empty planes to maintenance facilities. However, airlines in the Middle East and some in Europe also use them to tow planes loaded with passengers to runways for takeoff.


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Airlines tow the line of a fuel-saving idea