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Future aircraft may taxi without engines

Feb. 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM   |   Comments

LINCOLN, England, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- British engineers say they're looking at ways to design aircraft that are able to generate electricity by harnessing energy from the landing gear.

Researchers from the University of Lincoln say future aircraft could use this electricity to power the plane as it taxis to and from airport gates, reducing the need to use the jet engines. This would save on aviation fuel, cut emissions and reduce noise pollution at airports, Britain's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council said Thursday in a release.

The energy produced by a plane's braking system during landing, currently wasted as heat produced by friction in the brakes, would be captured and converted into electricity by motor-generators built into the landing gear, engineers said.

The electricity would be stored and then supplied to the in-hub motors in the wheels to provide "engine-less" taxiing, they said.

"Taxiing is a highly fuel-inefficient part of any trip by plane with emissions and noise pollution caused by jet engines being a huge issue for airports all over the world," research leader Paul Stewart said.

"Currently, commercial aircraft spend a lot of time on the ground with their noisy jet engines running," he said. "In the future this technology could significantly reduce the need to do that."

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