ATS WORLD WIDE LLC RECENT MEDIA HITS

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AIR TRANSPORT: Vintage 727 Airliner Deployed to Test New Aircraft Towing System

by Curt Epstein – April 23, 2020, 5:42 PM

ATS World-Wide CEO Vince Howie poses with his company’s new acquisition, a formerly-derelict Boeing 727 that it will use to test and demonstrate its permanently installed, automated aircraft towing system. (Photo: ATS)

When Vince Howie first noticed the Kitty Hawk Air Cargo Boeing 727 parked forlornly at Oklahoma’s Ardmore Industrial Airpark several years ago, he thought about leasing it someday to test his company’s permanently installed automatic aircraft towing system. Howie’s Aircraft Towing Systems World-Wide (ATS) has been developing the technology in cooperation with Oklahoma State University’s New Product Development Center.

As the prototype of the electrically-powered system nears completion, he inquired about the classic tri-jet’s status. “When I discovered it was abandoned, I asked if I might buy it,” said Howie. “The City of Ardmore then filed for an abandoned title and put it up for auction.” With no other bidders, ATS was able to acquire it for just over the minimum bid.

The aircraft had not moved since 2007, and its former owner declared bankruptcy the following year. When ATS CEO Howie and several other ATS employees and family members went to examine the new acquisition, they found the only entrance that was accessible was the aft ventral airstairs (the same access point the notorious D.B. Cooper used to escape his 1971 mid-air 727 hijacking attempt).

Once inside, it became clear that the aircraft had simply been closed up when its owners walked away. Its flight log ended with entries for its last flight in August 2007, and all interior equipment was still present, down to the fire extinguishers. Its last airworthiness certificate was found in the cockpit, along with some 2007-vintage aviation publications. The Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines had been removed at some point, but their cowlings and thrust reversers were found in the cargo compartment.727 flight engineers stationThe 727’s flight engineer station was well preserved, showing its 1960s vintage technology. (Photo: ATS)

Another discovery proved a major bonus for the new owners. “It was amazing to find the auxiliary power still installed,” said Howie, adding that King Aerospace will handle the cleaning and partial refurbishment of the jet. “If they can get the APU working, it will allow ATS to power the brakes and steering, which will make testing much safer and easier.” King Aerospace will also install the engine cowlings, and mount new tires on the aircraft as part of its rehabilitation.

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“We believe our strategic investment in this jet will be the perfect instrument to demonstrate how ATS works in the days ahead,” noted Howie. ATS, which would represent a major capital expenditure for an airport, is integrated into the ground control system, and run by the ground control tower personnel. It uses tow tractors that ride along underground, permanently-installed rail channels, leading from the runway to the terminals. Intended to be able to move aircraft with their engines off, anticipated benefits include improved safety, fuel savings, decreased emissions, increased engine lifespan, reduced ground staff requirements, and noise reduction.

Howie told AIN that testing with the 727 should begin in about four months when the prototype installation is completed at the Ardmore Airpark. He expects trials to be completed by the end of the year, pending regulatory approval. “We have several very interested airports and we continue to work with the FAA,” he concluded.

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Aircraft Towing Systems Partners with Oklahoma State University on New Transportation System

Aircraft Towing Systems World Wide LLC and Oklahoma State University’s New Product Development Center (NPDC) are developing a prototype designed to move aircraft to and from airport taxiways and gates without the use of a jet’s main engines.

Led by OSU’s NPDC Director Robert Taylor, Ph.D., the center began working on the project in November 2016 and it’s currently developing a testing system for the prototype. The OSU team also recently nominated ATS for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s “Business Partnership Excellence Award,” which was presented at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma in March.

“The unique ATS concept originated with Polish businessman and entrepreneur Stan Malicki, along with the help of his hand-picked international engineers,” Taylor said.

Taylor noted that Malicki, president of ATS, likes Oklahoma’s pro-business environment and friendly workforce. Company Vice President/CEO Vince Howie is a partial owner of ATS and meets weekly with the NPDC ATS team as they fulfill the research, development and design on the contract.

“When we started working on the project in 2016, we basically had a package and pretty much a blank slate before we created a team out of converged departments, professors and mechanical, aerospace, civil, electrical and computer engineering undergraduate and graduate students, including five Ph.Ds.,” Taylor said. “Our research and development of ATS provides students with real-world experience, and that is what our center is wrapped around – the commercialization of new product development and contributing to economic development in Oklahoma.”

ATS broke ground at the Ardmore Industrial Airpark in November 2019, and installation of the underground channel for ATS’s electric-powered railway system should be complete under select portions of the airport’s ramp areas by this summer.

“I suspect there are small bits and pieces we’ll need to adjust, which is common when you introduce a prototype and test the system, but we’re excited,” Taylor said. “Some of the benefits of ATS will be a reduction of fuel emissions, and it should improve efficiency, as well as an increase in safety because ATS will be run by ground control, so there should few if any aircraft accidents on the ground. With a fully installed ATS system, a pilot can land on a runway and move onto the taxiway, where he or she can align the aircraft’s nose wheel into an ATS pull car.

“Once the nose wheel is secured, a pilot can turn off the main engine and ATS safely moves the aircraft using its channel system to the appropriate gate,” he added. “The reverse process is used when pilots are ready to takeoff. Pilots will then turn on their engines and drive off the pull car, move into position and take off.”

Howie, former director of aerospace and defense for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said Taylor and the OSU NPDC team are doing work that may revolutionize the way airports run in the future.

“ATS is fully automated, powered by an electric motor that moves aircraft autonomously using a rail system located in a channel just below the surface of select portions of the airport taxiways and gate areas,” Howie said. “ATS will negate the need for tug-and-cart equipment and associated personnel. We do foresee increased operational efficiencies, including the potential to increase the speed of airport gate turnover, as well as environmental and safety benefits.”

Howie said ATS has the potential to provide solutions to the challenges of wasted aircraft fuel because fuel will be saved when the main engine is shut off.

“We believe ATS will reduce harmful fuel emissions, decrease noise around airports and potentially extend jet engine life, all while reducing aircraft collisions,” Howie said. “This will create an overall safer and more efficient takeoff and landing system.”

He said ATS has been happy with the type of work the OSU NPDC team has performed.

“The kind of work they do has really been outstanding, so we’re really thrilled,” Howie said. “It has been a marvelous relationship. People are excited to see the prototype operational.”

Howie said various contractors in Oklahoma, Texas and at additional locations are working on different aspects of the production. In Oklahoma City, Citadel Construction Company continues its work on installing the channel at Ardmore Industrial Airpark. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Data3 Corporation is preparing the software that will allow airport control towers to operate ATS.

Production Machine and Tool (PMT) is a veteran-owned small business offering extensive machining and manufacturing expertise out of its production facility in Wichita Falls, Texas. The PMT team continues to work from OSU’s NPDC team’s technical drawings as they create the various metal components of the ATS system.

“The ATS team recently made changes to the tow cart and tow dolly, ordered materials for the center rotating plate and continue work on the system’s synthetic wheels,” Howie said. “We believe by early March, painting of the disassembled pull cart for the electric-powered railway system should be complete. Aberdeen Dynamics of Tulsa, an expert hydraulics system company, will travel to PMT in early March to help assemble the ATS pull-cart, while Poclain Hydraulics, the company that built the hydraulic system’s pumps and motors, will also have a representative present to assist as needed.

For more information about ATS, please visit www.aircrafttowingsystems.com or contact Kevan Goff-Parker, director of corporate communications, at (405) 514-3972 or kevan.goff-parker@atswwco.com.

                 Online Version of Press Release: You can read the online version of this press release at: https://www.pr.com/press-release/806842 A picture containing drawing

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The award is designed to highlight successful partnerships and to further cultivate the higher learning environment through the Oklahoma State Regent’s Economic Development Grants. Taylor said he is grateful to the state regents for supporting OSU’s business partnerships.
“The unique ATS concept originated with Polish businessman and entrepreneur, Stan Malicki, along with the help of his hand-picked international engineers,” Taylor said.
He said Malicki likes Oklahoma’s pro-business environment and friendly workforce and is now the company’s president. Incorporated in Oklahoma in 2016, ATS is an Oklahoma and internationally based company. ATS CEO/Vice President Vince Howie is a partial owner of the company and meets weekly with the NPDC ATS team.
“When we started in 2016, we had a package and pretty much a blank slate before we created a team out of converged departments, professors and mechanical, aerospace, civil, electrical and computer engineering undergraduate and graduate students, including five Ph.Ds.,” Taylor said. “ATS provides our students with real world experience and that’s what our center is wrapped around – the commercialization of new product development and contributing to economic development in Oklahoma.”
ATS held a groundbreaking celebration at the Ardmore Industrial Airpark in November 2019 and installation of the underground channel for ATS’ electric-powered railway system should be complete by this summer.
“I suspect there are small bits and pieces we’ll need to adjust, which is common when you introduce a prototype and test the system, but we’re excited,” Taylor said. “Some of ATS’ benefits will be a reduction of fuel emissions, heightened efficiency and an increase in safety because ATS will be run by ground control, so there should few if any aircraft ground accidents. Pilots can land on a runway, move onto the taxiway and align the aircraft’s nose wheel into an ATS pull car.
“Once the nose wheel is secured, the pilot can turn off the main engines and ATS safely moves the aircraft using its channel system to the appropriate gate. The reverse process is used for takeoffs. Pilots will then turn on their engines, drive off the pull car and move into position to takeoff.”
Howie, former director of aerospace and defense for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said the OSU NPDC team is doing great work that may revolutionize the way airports run in the future.
“ATS is fully automated, powered by an electric motor and moves aircraft autonomously using a rail system located in a channel just below the surface of an airport’s taxiways and gates,” Howie said. “ATS will negate the need for tug-and-cart equipment and associated personnel. We foresee increased operational efficiencies, including increasing the speed of airport-gate turnover, as well as environmental and safety benefits.”
He said ATS has the potential to provide solutions to the challenges of wasted aircraft fuel because fuel will be saved when the main engine is shutoff.
“We believe ATS will reduce harmful fuel emissions, decrease noise around airports and potentially extend jet-engine life, all while reducing aircraft collisions,” Howie said. “This will create an overall safer and more efficient takeoff and landing system.”
He said ATS has been pleased with the OSU NPDC team’s performance.
“The kind of work they do has really been outstanding, so we’re really thrilled,” Howie said. “It has been a marvelous relationship. People are excited to see the prototype operational.
“We believe there’s a super bright future for this opportunity, not just for OSU, but because we believe it is the next phase of automation for airports worldwide.”
For more information about ATS and 300 DPI photos, click https://www.aircrafttowingsystems.com or contact Kevan Goff-Parker
Director of Corporate Communications, ATS World Wide LLC
405.514.3972
Cutline for Photo: Aircraft Towing Systems World Wide LLC CEO/Vice President Vince Howie stands before a Boeing 727 at Ardmore Industrial Airpark in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The plane will be used to test and demonstrate how ATS moves aircraft autonomously using a rail system located in a channel just below the surface of select portions of an airport’s taxiways and gates.
Contact Information:
Aircraft Transport Systems World Wide LLC
Kevan Goff-Parker
405-514-3972
Contact via Email
https://www.aircrafttowingsystems.com
ATS World Wide LLC CEO/VP Vince Howie can be reached at 405-694-9861.
Read the full story here: https://www.pr.com/press-release/806842


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