GIBRALTAR--(Marketwired - Jul 10, 2014) - HNA Aviation Group has executed a Slot Option Purchase Agreement for 200 WheelTug® aircraft electric drive systems, WheelTug plc announced today. The agreement is WheelTug's first with an aviation group based in China. It brings total WheelTug system reservations to 985 aircraft across more than 15 airlines. This represents a market penetration of 10% of all 737NG and A320 currently flying worldwide.
The WheelTug system uses high-performance electric motors, installed in the nose gear wheels of an aircraft, to provide full mobility while on the ground, without the use of the aircraft's jet engines or tugs for both pushback and taxi operations.
The WheelTug system is being developed initially for the Boeing 737NG and Airbus A320, the world's most widely operated aircraft. The agreement with HNA Aviation allows its member airline companies such as Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Lucky Air, West Air, etc., to shift its reservations between the two aircraft models until six months before system delivery. This allows HNA Aviation exceptional flexibility for its future fleet and route planning.
"We are delighted that HNA Aviation will be the launch customer for WheelTug in China," said Isaiah Cox, President and CEO of WheelTug. "Operating on its philosophy of integrity, performance and innovation, HNA Aviation has rapidly become one of the largest Asian-based aviation groups. As a leader in adopting WheelTug, HNA Aviation will further advance its record of aviation innovation."
WheelTug enables aircraft to be electrically driven from the terminal gate to the takeoff runway, and upon landing from runway exit to the gate. This allows improvements in efficiency, flexibility, fuel savings, reduced engine wear, reduce foreign object damage (FOD), as well as substantial reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. The WheelTug system can be seen in action at http://media.wheeltug.com
The greatest benefit of WheelTug-enabled ground operations is the time that can be saved parking and unloading the aircraft and cooling its brakes before the next flight. Because the system is in the nose gear, there is no interference with cooling of the brakes on the main landing gear, allowing aircraft to reduce turnaround time by as much as 15 to 20 minutes per flight. This can lead to a dramatic increase in fleet utilization, as well as passenger satisfaction.
WheelTug estimates the total savings from use of its system at well over US$1 million per aircraft per year. WheelTug's systems are being offered to the airlines entirely on a lease, or power-by-the-hour basis, permitting installation on aircraft and operation without any airline capital expenditure.
About HNA Aviation
HNA Aviation, a core and cornerstone entity under HNA group, manages transportation enterprises of aviation and enterprises related to aviation under the group. It seeks global expansion and presence in the entire industrial chain by establishing supporting industries of aviation maintenance technology (MRO), general aviation (aviation academy), business trip service (sale), ground support and aviation logistics, and by introducing financial investment and emerging businesses, with an aim to become a leading large international aviation group in terms of the quality of service and size of the enterprise.
HNA Aviation now operates more than 308 airplanes on over 570 domestic and international airlines that connect more than 190 cities.
About WheelTug plc
WheelTug plc is developing the WheelTug aircraft electric drive system, and is based in Gibraltar. A full listing of WheelTug partner companies and airline customers is on the company's website at http://www.wheeltug.gi.
Forward-looking statement at http://www.wheeltug.gi/fls.shtml