Electric aircraft pushback tractor trialled at major airport


A fully-electric aircraft pushback tractor manufactured by Panus Assembly and powered by a Danfoss Editron drivetrain is currently being trialled at a major international airport in Thailand.

Panus Assembly is a leading supplier of specialised 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 100kW, with a maximum power of 200kW and speed of 4000rpm. 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 approximately 6000 tonnes of CO2 annually compared to current diesel alternatives.

“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,” said Danfoss Editron’s business development director for Asia-Pacific and Australasia David Hunter. “Airports can come out of this downturn with reduced operating costs and much-improved emission reduction policies and targets.”

“This machine is reflective of the way the ground service equipment industry is changing,” added Bernard Dubois, product and business development director at Panus Assembly. “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.”


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Saul Wordsworth is deputy editor of the iVT brand - which includes digital and print editions of a quarterly magazine and Off-Highway Annual, as well as ivtinternational.com. He is a keen cyclist and lives in north London.

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