Kenya Airways, the East African country’s national airline, and WheelTug plc, a Gibraltar-based aircraft e-taxi innovator, have begun a slot agreement for the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737NG aircraft.
Under the agreement, a structure known as the WheelTug system will enable Kenya Airways airplanes to taxi forward and backward, using small electric motors in their nose-wheels rather than jet engines or a tow tug.
This will benefit the Pride of Africa by reducing fuel consumption and emissions at airports, and save up to 20 minutes in ground time between flights.
Additionally, WheelTug will enable Kenya Airways planes to parallel-park at terminal gates; using two doors for narrowbody boarding and deplaning will allow for even more expedited travel.
“WheelTug’s innovative solution will be an excellent complement to our growing fleet and ultra-modern hub in Nairobi. It is the next stage in aviation innovation and vital for our operations,” Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and CEO Sebastian Mikosz said in an announcement this week.
This is the second airline contract WheelTug has signed in 2018. WheelTug systems are now reserved for over 1,050 aircraft on more than 20 airlines worldwide.
The WheelTug system uses high-performance electric motors, installed in the nose gear wheels of an aircraft, to provide full mobility and enhanced autonomy while on the ground.
Pilots can use WheelTug to conduct pushback and taxi operations without needing to use tugs or the aircraft’s jet engines. With WheelTug systems, Kenya Airways can improve the efficiency and reliability of its ground operations, leading to lower costs and increased fleet utilization.
“We are pleased to welcome Kenya Airways to the WheelTug program, and look forward to simplifying their ground operations and bringing their passengers a more enjoyable journey,” said WheelTug CEO Isaiah Cox following the agreement.
Kenya Airways, a member of the Sky Team Alliance, is a leading African airline flying to 51 destinations worldwide, 42 of which are in Africa and carries over three million passengers annually.