Safran and Honeywell expect to begin tests on an electric taxi system attached to an Airbus A320’s main landing gear in 2014 in preparation for being able to offer the environmentally friendly system as an option for the A320NEO program.

Safran bought an A320 to conduct the tests and expects its best sales opportunities to come from airlines flying short-haul, quick turnaround routes that require numerous daily rotations, says Alain Coutrot, deputy director of research and development for Safran’s Aerospace Division.

Coutrot told the Montreal Aerospace Forum in Montreal that taxiing with electric power, rather than relying on the aircraft’s fuel-burning gas turbine engines, could save carriers an average of $300,000 per aircraft per year in fuel and push-back charges while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The partners say the main landing gear offers the best method of handling the power loads required for electric taxiing. A rival approach from Chorus Motors powers the aircraft through the nose wheel landing gear.

The Safran-Honeywell system will require a power adapter attached to the auxiliary power unit (APU) but will not require additional APU power-generating capacity, he says. A 100 kW electronics system to distribute power to the wheel attachment on the landing gear is installed in the cargo bay.

The system will be retrofitable to the current A320 family, although no agreement to offer that option has been reached with Airbus, he says. Safran and Honeywell also have presented their plans to Boeing with the idea that the electric taxi system will be offered on the 737 MAX. They have not yet held talks with Bombardier about including it as an option for the CSeries.

Safran’s Honeywell partnership was announced at last summer’s Paris air show and will follow the risk-sharing model that Safran’s Snecma unit uses with General Electric on CFM’s engine programs. The partners are still defining work share responsibilities, Coutrot says.

Separately, Snecma continues work on unducted fans with an eye to having the powerplant ready by about 2025 in order to be a candidate for successors to the A320 and 737. At this stage, Snecma and GE are doing their research in parallel on behalf of CFM, with Snecma concentrating on composite structures for the low-pressure turbine to achieve a better configuration between the nacelle and engine, Coutrot says. Demonstration tests are expected in 2015.