New hybrid aircraft push-back tractor on show at Inter Airport Europe Exhibition

UK Consortium of Douglas Equipment, Hyperdrive Innovation and University of Birmingham supported by Innovate UK completes successful prototype.

 12 October 2017, Munich, Germany – A new Hybrid Electric Push-Back Tractor is on show for the first time at Inter Airport Europe, the world’s leading airport exhibition in Munich, Germany. The HElP-BT has a downsized diesel engine and an electric driveline with a state of the art control system and energy storage device. It is an alternative to heavy-duty diesel tractors currently used by airports and airlines around the world to move aircraft before taking-off and after landing.

The tractor was developed to help airports and airlines meet commitments to reduce CO2 and harmful emissions from both ground vehicles and aircraft.  The HEIP-BT will also lower running costs and is leading the way for ground service equipment to utilise lithium-ion technology.

It was developed by a consortium of: Douglas Equipment, UK-based manufacturer of vehicles that support the aircraft industry and owned by Textron GSE; Hyperdrive Innovation, the UK-based developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion battery technology for electric vehicles and battery energy storage systems; and the University of Birmingham, a leading global university.

Each member of the consortium fulfilled a key role. Douglas Equipment are the OEM, vehicle integrator and route to market, ensuring that the airline and airport functional and legislative requirements are met. Hyperdrive are responsible for the designing and manufacturing the high performance, Lithium-Ion energy store and supporting the system integration. Birmingham University carried out simulation work to size the hybrid sub-systems and optimise their control.

The project was awarded funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.    The project successfully entered a competition ran by Innovate UK in 2015 called “World-leading, off-highway vehicles”. The competition was set up to boost the UK’s position in the growing global market of off-highway vehicles by supporting highly innovative projects which reduce emissions and improve efficiency.

Allan Cairns, CEO of Hyperdrive Innovation, says: “The development of the HEIP-BT has been a fantastic collaboration bringing together innovation and technology from across the UK. At Hyperdrive, we used our world-leading expertise in lithium-ion battery technology to develop the storage device and control system. The project demonstrates brilliantly how our products can be deployed across a whole variety of different applications.”

Neale Ryan, Senior Programme Manager – Automotive at Innovate UK said:  “The UK is a world leader in off-highway vehicles, exporting vehicles to every corner of the globe. This project is a great example of how innovation in the sector can reduce C02 and other harmful emissions. The collaboration between the partners has delivered an exciting prototype vehicle and we look forward to seeing the final commercial product in 2018.”