AIRCRAFT TOWING SYSTEMS PARTNERS WITH OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY ON NEW TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
BY VINCE HOWIE, VICE PRESIDENT & CEO
ATS WORLDWIDE LLC
Aircraft Towing Systems World Wide LLC (ATS) and Oklahoma State University’s New Product Development Center (NPDC) are developing a proto- type 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 entrepre- neur Stan Malicki, along with the help of his hand-picked international engi- neers,” 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 proj- ect in 2016, we basically had a package and pretty much a blank slate before we created a team out of converged de- partments, professors and mechanical, aerospace, civil, electrical and computer engineering undergraduate and gradu- ate 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 commercializa- tion 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 un- derground 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 proto-
type and test the sys-
tem, but we’re excit-
ed,” Taylor said. “Some
of the benefits of ATS
will be a reduction of
fuel emissions, and it
should improve effi-
ciency, as well as an
increase in safety because ATS will be run by ground control, so there should be few if any aircraft accidents on the ground. With a fully installed ATS sys- tem, 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 chan- nel system to the appropriate gate,” he added. “The reverse process is used when pilots are ready to take off. 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 Depart- ment 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 au- tonomously using a rail system located in a channel just below the surface of select portions of the airport taxiways
AIRCRAFT TOWING SYSTEMS WORLD WIDE LLC VICE PRESIDENT/CEO 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 THE AIRPORT’S TAXIWAYS.
and gate areas,” Howie said. “ATS will ne- gate the need for tug-and-cart equip- ment 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 re- lationship. People are excited to see the prototype operational.”
For more information about ATS, please visit http://www.aircrafttowingsystems.com. <
WWW.AIRPORTSCOUNCIL.ORG | CENTERLINES