On the A320 test aircraft the wheel-motor installation is representative of a production system, but the power and control electronics are mounted in the cabin, so they can be easily removed when the aircraft is returned to service. “We are working with the OEMs to evaluate solutions for integrating the boxes and wiring, but the mechanical aspect is close to the final solution,” Savin says.
OEMs are also looking at how an electric taxiing system would be controlled from the cockpit. For the demo, the system is controlled via a joystick.
“This has been tested with three pilots and they have been very positively surprised at how easy it is to maneuver and make difficult movements, including reverse,” Savin says. “There is no reverse today on an aircraft, so we are creating a revolution.”
To enable an aircraft to turn around its center, the wheel on one side is driven in reverse while the other side is driven forward, allowing for a “tank-style” turn which could be useful when maneuvering out of an airport gate.
Initial tests to evaluate runway conditions and calculate the necessary loads to move an A320 took place in Montpellier, France. Trials of various system elements are underway at Honeywell and Safran sites in Canada, Europe and the U.S. Nearly 3,000 hr. of laboratory testing has been achieved so far on electrical and landing-gear subsystem integration, while 2,200 mi. of equivalent distance has been amassed on qualification tests of wheels and brakes under normal and loaded conditions.
Testing on the A320 covered 160 km and 300 hr. Many hurdles have been crossed in this first phase of testing, says Fusaro. The fully integrated system is designed for both forward fit and retrofit on the A320 and 737 from 2016 onward. Productive conversations have been held with various manufactures and operators, he says.