Lufthansa LEOS signs development contract for eSchlepper

Trend-setting electromobility concept presented

In the future, Lufthansa LEOS, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik AG, will deploy electrically powered hybrid towbarless aircraft tugs. A development contract for the project was signed with Kalmar Motor AB from Sweden on 9 October, 2013, on the occasion of the inter airport Europe exhibition in Munich. The electrically powered tug, or eSchlepper, is the only product of its kind worldwide in this power class, capable of moving aircraft with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of up to 600 tonnes. "We are delighted to have this opportunity to develop the eSchlepper with Lufthansa LEOS. We can deliver the first prototype at the end of 2014," says Magnus Johansson, Sales Director at Kalmar Motor AB.

The powerful eSchlepper will primarily be used for repositioning and hangar towing operations involving heavy long-haul aircraft, towing them over distances of up to seven kilometers. The all-wheel-drive electric vehicle will be powered by lithium-ion batteries, externally charged from the electricity network. Where necessary, the batteries can also be charged during operation by using a fully integrated diesel motor, the Range Extender. The eSchlepper is therefore purely electrically powered, whilst the integrated diesel generator is exclusively there for safety-related redundancy purposes.

The eSchlepper is part of the Lufthansa Group's "Airport eMove" project and was born out of the forward-looking "Green Ground Handling" electromobility concept at Frankfurt Airport. Partners in this initiative include the State of Hesse, Fraport AG and the Rhine-Main Electromobility Model Region. The initiative aims to implement electromobility projects of the future in order to make aircraft towing and surface-bound traffic as environmentally friendly as possible. The "Airport eMove" project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS).

In the future, the eSchlepper is intended to replace the diesel-powered tow-bar-based aircraft tugs currently in use. Its innovative electric motor makes the eSchlepper more environmentally friendly and economical than the diesel-powered alternative. Alexander Stern, Managing Director at Lufthansa LEOS, is convinced of the benefits of the new eSchlepper. "If, as expected, the eSchlepper proves itself in operational as well as commercial terms, we will move our entire fleet of tugs to electric power, step by step," he comments.

Lufthansa LEOS is presenting the eSchlepper electromobility concept from 8 to 11 October, 2013, during the inter airport Europe exhibition in Munich at Stand 156 in Hall B6.