The low-cost airline easyJet is set to trial a hybrid plane that holds a hydrogen fuel cell stowed in the aircraft's hold to capture energy from the landing gear brakes.
The energy can then be used by the aircraft during taxiing without needing to use their jet engines.
The airline runs lots of high-frequency, short-length flights, meaning that around 4 per cent of its total fuel consumed annually is used when the aircraft are taxiing with an average 20 minutes of taxi time per flight.
When braking during landing, the system reabsorbs the lost energy through its landing gear to charge the hydrogen battery.
In efforts to prove its green credentials, easyJet said the only waste product from the system is fresh clean water which could be used to refill the aircraft’s water system throughout the flight.
Ian Davies, easyJet's head of engineering, said the water produced as a waste product from the batteries would be discarded or reused.
Asked whether it would be served to passengers, he replied: "I think we could reuse the water. It's absolutely pure. Why would we throw water away when it's absolutely pure?"
He said it could be used for drinking and flushing toilets, "This is potentially the freshest, cleanest water," he added.
Each aircraft will have motors installed in its wheels that are connected to electronics and system controllers to give pilots total control of the aircraft’s speed, direction and braking during taxi operations.
The system would therefore reduce, if not remove altogether, the need for tugs to manoeuvre aircraft in and out of stands, which could boost the airline’s turnaround times at airports.
easyJet is currently working with industry and suppliers to begin trialling the technology later this year.
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