A first-of-its-kind battery-powered cargo transporter, working in conjunction with a battery-powered loader, shows true indications of sharply reducing fuel and maintenance costs of ground-based cargo-handling vehicles used by major air freight-carriers. The savings appear to be most pronounced when these new heavy-duty electric cargo transporters and loaders service wide-bodied aircraft.
Flying Tigers Line presently operates the largest fleet of electric transporters and loaders in the U.S. After successfully evaluating a prototype battery-powered transporter in Chicago during 1985, Flying Tigers took delivery of 20 identical units at its new hub in Columbus, OH, at the end of that year and early in 1986. The 20 new electric transporters work in tandem with 16 new electric loaders, thus comprising an all-electric containerized cargo handling system.
Early on-the-job data indicate that battery-powered container transporters and loaders can be up to 90% less costly to operate in terms of fuel, and up to 70% less costly to maintain and repair than conventional diesel-powered equipment of comparable size. Savings of these magnitudes are consistent with those already being realized by major passenger airlines around the world that have been using battery-powered jumbo aircraft pushout tractors over the past several years.
The design of the recently introduced cargo transporter evolved from ongoing modifications and improvements in many other types of heavy-duty battery-powered equipment already widely used in the U.S. and overseas by the airline and mining industries, in particular. The all-electric loader/transporter cargo handling system could well become the preferred method for achieving more cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally sound ground operations at hub locations.