A fully-electric aircraft pushback tractor, manufactured by Panus Assembly and powered by a Danfoss EDITRON drivetrain, is currently being trialed at a major international airport in Thailand. The project is part of the ongoing trend to electrify the aviation industry, including ground service equipment.
Direct emissions from the aviation industry account for more than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the sector was a country, it would rank in the world’s top 10 emitters. Global annual aviation emissions are already approximately 70% higher than they were in 2005. Furthermore, the International Civil Aviation Organization predicts that, without the introduction of additional measures and new technologies, they could grow by greater than 300% further by 2050.
Panus Assembly is a leading supplier of specialized cargo carriers, systems, services and logistics solutions. As well as not releasing any emissions, the company’s electric aircraft pushback tractor has been ergonomically designed with a fully composite cabin to provide operators with 360-degree visibility. Other features include robust business management and control systems to ensure safe operation, plus intelligent on-board diagnostics so maintenance needs can be handled remotely.
Danfoss Editron’s drivetrain system provides continuous power of 100 kW, with a maximum power of 200 kW and speed of 4,000 rpm. The EDITRON system has been designed to ensure maximum efficiencies, while the software-based approach allows for greater intelligent management of power distribution, delivering superior operational performance.
A prototype of the fully-electric aircraft pushback tractor is currently undergoing testing. It is anticipated that 60 of the machines entering operation will save 6,600 tons of CO2 annually compared to current diesel alternatives.
Commenting on the project, Danfoss Editron’s Business Development Director for Asia-Pacific and Australasia David Hunter says, “Airlines, ground service operators and airports can do something positive during the current reduced demand for air travel by trialing new, innovative sustainable technology that can be introduced when demand increases again. There is no better time to test new equipment and put electrification into practice as there are more free air slots, less congested pushback times and idle aircraft. Airports can come out of this downturn with reduced operating costs and much-improved emission reduction policies and targets.”
“It has been a delight to work with Panus Assembly on this ground-breaking, fully-electric aircraft application. We are collaborating on other electric transportation projects throughout Asia-Pacific and there are exciting times ahead. Having manufacturing capability in Thailand means that Panus Assembly has a very competitive product to offer the local region,” Hunter adds.
Bernard Dubois, Product and Business Development Director at Panus Assembly comments, “This machine is reflective of the way the ground service equipment industry is changing. The automotive sector is moving to electric and the airport tractor segment is going the same way, with many airports and countries pushing for the introduction of green technology. This fully-electric pushback tractor will boast a wide range of benefits for those that order it, including low operating costs and reduced maintenance needs. The fact that it is a Thai company blazing a trail with this machine rather than a European or American one is a first too.”