Powered and controlled aircraft by the Wright brothers revolutionized travel. The pressurized cabin, the jet engine, and air traffic control made monumental changes to aviation that impacted the world.
The safety-enhancing, fuel-saving and environmentally friendly system developed by Oklahoma City-based ATS World Wide, Inc. to move airliners on and around an airport will have an impact similar in magnitude to these other innovations and solve an industry challenge that’s been around since the 1970s.
ATS World Wide developed an electric-powered pull car/tow dolly system designed to automatically transport aircraft at airports using an underground channel system. After a pilot lands, the aviator taxis and drives on the pull car/tow dolly system. Once the aircraft’s nose wheel is secured, the pilot can shut off the main engines, and in a pre-engineered pattern, the ATS will automatically transport planes from the runway to the gates and back.
Managed by airport tower operators, the system will optimize airport taxiway traffic and equipment in and around flight operations and creates a much safer environment for aircraft at airports.
To this day, either (1) pilots and/or tug operators push or pull aircraft to/from gates or (2) the cockpit crew uses the engines and the aircraft steering mechanism to move the plane. One would expect that such a routine function, performed thousands of times daily in the US alone, would not be a source of significant problems. That is an incorrect assumption as demonstrated by this small sampling of recent incidents:
- Two planes clip wings at Newark Airport
- Virgin after plane wing clips fence
- Plane’s wing damaged after hitting other plane at Detroit Metro Airport
- Massive A380 jet clips, spins smaller plane at JFK (the video of an RJ spinning after the A-380 is unbelievable!)
While these incidents do not usually involve significant injuries, the data tends to support the notion that the frequency is not inconsequential. The damage to the aircraft usually requires significant, costly and time-consuming repairs, thus justifying the investment in the ATS installation on a simple cost savings aside from the equally compelling environmental improvements.
The idea for the system was born during a casual conversation between ATS World Wide founder and polish entrepreneur Stan Malicki, and a friend pilot,” said Vince Howie, CEO of ATS World Wide. “He said that from the moment of landing at the airport to taxing to the Gate his plane burned more than 2 tons of aviation fuel! What a waste!”
Incorporated in 2016, ATS World Wide Inc. collaborated early on with Oklahoma State University’s New Product Development Center (NPDC) in the design and is now working with the NPDC and other experts constructing the innovative ATS system.
A prototype of the technology is presently being installed at the Ardmore Industrial Airpark, also located in the State of Oklahoma and is expected to be completed by spring 2021. The steel for the prototype arrived in the port of Houston and will be delivered to Ardmore mid November 2020. Tulsa-based companies Aberdeen Hydraulics and Data3 will plum the hydraulic lines of the system and program the system respectively. The tow dolly is being developed by Wichita Falls, TX-based PMT.
As I’m sure you’ll agree Covid has had a disastrous effect on the general aviation industry. Despite this though, phones at ATS have been ringing off the hook by airport officials seeking to learn more about the ATS system.
This should be no surprise considering that what ATS has created will enable airports around the world to significantly lower fuel consumption, decrease noise, reduce harmful emissions, eliminate collisions and at the same time, increase airport capacity without adding a single gate or building a new terminal.
ATS projects that installation of its system will significantly increase airport capacity with no other capital projects and reduce harmful emissions by 90%. To give you a sense of the scale we’re talking about the following is the amount of gases released during taxiing in 2016 alone at three European airports: Frankfurt, London-Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle:
CO – lethal damp, carbon monoxide………..20.783.540 kg
NOx – carcinogenic nitric oxides……………….4.520.050 kg
CO2 – greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide…….3.645.720 kg
HC – hydrocarbons……………………………………1.740.850 kg
Furthermore, when it comes to manpower, because ATS is a fully automated system, an airport will be able to significantly reduce ground equipment and personnel decreasing overhead costs. Frankfurt Airport alone would be able to reduce its number of employees by an estimated 400 people.
“As an aerospace business trying to take off (no pun intended), I can’t think of a better place to be than Oklahoma,” said Vince Howie. “The lower cost of doing business, large pipeline of labor with sought after technical skills, the numerous partnership opportunities with statewide academic institutions offering aerospace engineering degrees such as the University of Oklahoma and OSU and the state’s unique Aerospace Engineer Workforce Tax Credit, and the state’s 21st Century Quality Jobs Program, are all contributing factors why we chose to launch our company here.”
Aerospace is Oklahoma’s second largest industry; more than 1,100 companies employ over 120,000 workers. It is home to the largest military MRO center at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, which is today the Sustainment Center HQ for the U.S. Air Force, employing over 26,000 people. Tulsa, Oklahoma is home to American Airlines’ MRO center, the largest commercial MRO operation in the world, employing over 6000 aerospace workers. Counted together Oklahoma becomes one of the seven main centers in the world for MRO. Over the last 10 years Oklahoma has successfully attracted numerous aerospace companies, both large and small, to the state that are involved in general aviation (such as Boeing, Ferra Aerospace, and Rolls Royce Motors), MRO (such as BizJet a subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik, PAS MRO and King Aerospace) or UAS (such as Kratos Defense & Security Solutions and Skydweller Aero Inc.).
Some key figures about Oklahoma’s aerospace sector:
- There are more than 1,100 aerospace entities found throughout the state of Oklahoma.
- Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base is the largest depot in the U.S. Department of Defense.
- More than 120,000 Oklahomans employed by companies in the aerospace and defense industry.
- The Oklahoma Air & Spaceport has the only FAA approved space flight corridor in the National Airspace System not within restricted airspace or Military Operating Area. It has one of the longest and the widest runways in North America (13,503×300-foot), six commercial aircraft hangars and land available for lease with bonding authority. It is one of the ten in the U.S. with an FAA Launch Site Operator License.
- The American Airlines Maintenance and Engineering Center in Tulsa is the largest commercial MRO facility in the world.
- Civilian & military aviation and aerospace account $43.7 billion in economic activity annually.
- The FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center is the central support and training facility in the U.S. for the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The center trains more than 20,000 students a year.
- Twelve of Oklahoma’s colleges and universities have aerospace programs.
- Oklahoma is home to the nation’s first UAS-focused degree program.
- ATS is targeting the cost to stay under $1000 per linear foot and so far ATS has received interest from several major airports across the US and Europe including Heathrow, airports in Denmark, Sweden, Dubai, Poland and many others. At the last AAAE trade show it had 22 smaller airports interested in just ATS’s pushback portion of the system to eliminate gas/diesel powered tugs that put emissions in the atmosphere. There are 34 airports, major hubs, that ATS has targeted for the complete system. There are other applications such as moving aircraft to and from maintenance hangers, taking aircraft to distant runways, etc. that are also being developed. The system is sized for regional jets to jumbo jets including 747s and A380s.
- A prototype of the solution is presently being deployed at the Ardmore Industrial Park in the State of Oklahoma, USA.
Source: State of Oklahoma