Tue, Dec 05, 2006
Electric Tugs Would Tow Planes To Runways
Richard Branson was in Chicago Monday, to announce the return of
Virgin Atlantic to the city. He also used his time at the
microphone to implore city officials to consider a significant
rethinking of ground operations at O'Hare International.
Branson says his plan to use electric tugs to tow airliners to
the runway would drastically cut global aircraft carbon dioxide
emissions -- as well as reduce jet fuel costs.
"We will be experimenting with it in a few weeks time at
(London's) Heathrow and Gatwick Airports," Branson told the Chicago
Tribune. "Hopefully, we can make Chicago the next airport in the
world" to try the measure.
Branson added Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was "intrigued" with
"We are looking at it," Daley said. "We have to sit down with
our commissioner ... and we have to talk to the FAA."
Skeptics say the biggest potential hurdle to the plan is the
amount of time it would take a tug to tow a plane. Tugs typically
travel slower than airplanes can taxi.
"Tows tend to be very slow, which is just going to create
gridlock along the taxiways around the terminal," said industry
analyst Robert Mann. "This is just a non-starter."
Daley -- who touts his plan to make Chicago "the greenest city
in America" -- said he would also like to boost the use of
alternate fuels in airport vehicles.
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