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Ground operations

On landing, aircraft engines could be switched off sooner, runways cleared faster and ground handling emissions could be cut.

Technology could optimise an aircraft’s landing position with enough accuracy for anautonomous renewably-powered taxiing carriage to be ready, so aircraft could be transported away from runways quicker, which would optimise terminal space, and remove runway and gate limitations.

A new approach to (gently) touching down

Welcome to your destination, right on time.

The stored energy also could power autonomous receiving vehicles.  These would be ready and waiting to taxi aircraft to the terminal using the fastest route, clearing runways and making it a quicker process for passengers to disembark. It also would mean a faster turnaround of the aircraft.  Delays at gates would become a thing of the past, so the next aircraft – and its passengers – could enjoy the same benefits.

Simply switching engines off sooner on the ground would make a big difference.  According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), up to six million tonnes of CO2 could be saved each year by reduced engine taxiing.

How will it work?

The technologies needed to make this a reality are not as far out as might be expected. Ground vehicles that can operate without human intervention, sensing and navigating around the dynamic airport environment are more than a flight of fancy.  They could use electromagnetic currents flowing through runway-installed tracks or even wireless high power, with the aircraft perhaps acting as a conduit.

So too are energy storage devices capable of storing high amounts of energy received in a very short period of time.  These could be discharged, either slowly or rapidly, while remaining reasonably compact and lightweight and suitable for ground use. Excess energy also could be collected during flight to power on-board systems and/or stored for use on the ground.

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Did you know?

"We surveyed over 10,000 people around the world who will be passengers in 2050 to ask what they want from the aviation industry in the future.

Their message was clear – we need to help as many people as possible share in the benefits that air transport brings, but we need to achieve this while looking after the environment."

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