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NEW AT MUNICH: TOM ALLETT ZOOMED IN ON THE TOW-TRACTORS ON SHOW AT INTER AIRPORT EUROPE 2017.

The ongoing 'green' revolution was certainly in evidence amongst the new tow-tractors exhibited at inter airport Europe. All the big names were promoting their latest battery-powered or hybrid versions of their vehicles, all designed to handle a huge range of aircraft and cargo.

Exhibitors

From the 'that's something different' perspective, the most intriguing new design was the TractEasy driverless baggage tug. The result of collaboration between TLD and EasyMile, its software is designed to enable the robotised unit to operate in a complex and live ramp environment. The vehicle is based on TLD's electric JET-16 tractor but is equipped with the remote control, navigation, communication and safety detection tools developed by EasyMile as part of its driverless technology projects. In our previous issue we featured the company's EZ10 driverless shuttle, which is similarly equipped. EasyMile said its software has several layers of security protection that will prevent any unauthorised people from taking control of its vehicles.

The TractEasy tug is for the transfer baggage and freight market, moving them between the terminal to the aircraft stands via the service roads without a driver, however all the usual driver controls will still be in place as an 'operator' needs to be in the 'driver's' seat to take control of the vehicle for the final approach to the aircraft. Presumably this staff member may also be called upon to uncouple the baggage/freight train when it reaches its destination, as well as load/ unload the cargo as required. In terms of performance, the zero-emission electric JET-16 tug offers a drawbar pull ranging from 3,500-4,400lbf (15.5-19.5kN) and TLD said it will operate in normal traffic, without needing any infrastructure modifications, and in all weather conditions and, depending on its usage, believes it can deliver a return on the investment in under two years.

The first prototype of TractEasy, the MSN-001, was displayed at TLD's inter airport stand and its initial certification tests, taking place at Toulouse Francazal Airport, are scheduled for completion by mid-2018. These are for what TLD describes as: "mid-scale applications for selected launch customers". It said commercial use is expected from Q1 2019.

Douglas / Textron--TBL 280 Hybrid

With many of the world's airports and airlines under pressure to reduce their C02 emissions, Douglas, part of the Textron Group, displayed its prototype TBL 280 hybrid tractor. Produced in a consortium with Hyperdrive Innovation (battery design and performance) and Birmingham University (simulation tasks), the TBL 280 is designed for pushback, inter-gate and longer maintenance tow duties for aircraft ranging in size from the Embraer 190 up to the Boeing 787/MD11 and Airbus A340/350 types.

This latest version of the tractor has a HEIP-BT diesel engine, which is smaller than those that equipped its predecessors, but it also has an electric driveline, control system and energy storage device. Its creators say it will help to reduce running costs and describe it as an alternative to heavy-duty diesel tractors currently in service.

Munich provided the nrst opportunity for the industry to see the full electric version of Kalmars 96-volt lithium battery-powered TBL 100. The compatible aircraft listed by Kalmar for this vehicle includes the CRJ family, the Bombardier C-series, Fokker 70/100, Embraer 170-195, Airbus A300 to 321 and Boeing 727, 737 and 757, but it will also handle many others. The manufacturer says there are two ways to recharge its battery, by plugging into a standard 115V / 400HZ power supply, or by using a standard three-phase grid connection. The vehicle is now in service with the Aviator ground handling company.

The Kalmar TBL 180 Hybrid on show at Munich was about to be delivered to the German ground handling provider Wisag. Kalmar describes the TBL 180 as being designed to handle airliners ranging from the Embraer 170 up to the Airbus A300 and Boeing 767 but includes the more popular Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families too. The hybrid version of this long-established tractor is essentially all-electric. Officially 95% electric and 5% diesel powered, operationally they function as all-electric vehicles with the diesel engine only being used if the battery needs to be charged while on the move. This means full power is available at all times, regardless of what percentage of the battery charged. Kalmar states that as its batteries can be charged even during short stops, they are able t drive the tractor most of the time.

Schopf--In addition to the new Sherpa range described on pages 6 and 7 of this edition, the latest version of the Schopf F396 aircraft tow-tractor was also on display on Goldhofer's Munich exhibition stand. Equipped with the new Tier 4f engine to meet the latest emission standards, it is the most powerful tow-tractor available from the Goldhofer Group. Boasting a towing capacity of up to 170 tons, it can handle the Airbus A380 or indeed, any aircraft currently in service.

Caption: The driverless TLD/EasyMile baggage tractor was unveiled at Munich.

Caption: A Kalmar Motor TBL 100 Electric.

Caption: The diesel-powered Kalmar TBL 50 on display was very close to its new home as it was on delivery to Munich Airport's own ground handling company EFM. This model is aimed at the commuter and narrowbody aircraft market such the ATR and Dash 8 turboprops as well as the Embraer, CRJ, Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families.

Caption: The Schopf F396, capable of towing any aircraft currently in service, is now available with a Tier 4f low-emission engine.

Caption: The Kalmar Motor TBL 180 Hybrid. (KEY--Tom Allett)
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Title Annotation:GROUND HANDLING: TOW TRACTORS
Author:Allett, Tom
Publication:Airports International
Article Type:Cover story
Date:Dec 1, 2017
Words:918
Previous Article:FIRST SIGHT OF THE SHERPA: GOLDHOFER'S NEW SHERPA RANGE OF TOW TRACTORS MADE THEIR PUBLIC DEBUT AT INTER AIRPORT EUROPE.
Next Article:SINGAPORE GROWS FAST: EMMA KELLY EXPLAINS HOW CHANGI'S T4 IS DESIGNED TO DELIVER A MULTI-SENSORY AND FAST EXPERIENCE.
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