Green and strong

eSchlepper: hybrid-based, electrically powered aircraft towbarless towing tractor

In the era of climate change and limited resources, electromobility is becoming ever more important for sustainable environmental, energy and transport policy. Lufthansa Technik has been a substantial contributor to environmental protection for many years already, with innovative developments in the field of "Green MRO". Because of the enormous ecological and economical savings potential, Lufthansa Technik has also been investigating alternative power concepts for aircraft movements on the ground since 2008.

From the beginning, the aim of these projects — bundled together in the "E-PORT AN" project — has been the development and implementation of electromobility concepts which achieve the maximum possible environmental and resource protection for surface traffic itself and for taxiing and aircraft towing. For the various ground movements of aircraft, Lufthansa Technik and its Lufthansa LEOS subsidiary, in conjunction with network partners, explored various approaches and developed the eSchlepper. 

  • 2017 eSchlepper
    Hybrid-based eSchlepper
  • 2017 eSchlepper FRA
    eSchlepper will be deployed for a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of up to 600 metric tons.
  • 2017 eSchlepper Ops
    eSchlepper in operations at Frankfurt airport
  • 2017 eSchlepper Night
    eSchlepper is much quieter and generates up to 75 percent less CO2 emissions.

Hybrid-based eSchlepper

The eSchlepper is a hybrid-based, electrically powered aircraft towbarless towing tractor. The high-performance, four-wheel-drive electric vehicle will primarily be deployed for towing heavy, long-haul aircraft with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of up to 600 metric tons. As well as pushbacks and repositioning of aircraft, long hangar towing procedures of up to seven kilometers are possible for aircraft up to the size of an Airbus A380.

The aircraft towing tractor, developed by Lufthansa Leos together with Kalmar Motor AB of Sweden, is powered with lithium ion batteries and a plug-in hybrid diesel-electric motor combination. The lithium ion batteries have a capacity of 180 kilowatt hours and can be fully charged from the external electricity network in just five hours. Where necessary, however, the batteries can also be charged during operation by using an integrated diesel motor, the Range Extender.

The new eSchlepper allows for a significant reduction in fuel consumption at airports. Compared to a diesel-powered aircraft towing truck, it is also much quieter and generates up to 75 percent less CO2 emissions. Beyond this, the maintenance costs on engines, brakes, and landing gear will be further reduced and the life of these products extended. With the eSchlepper, Lufthansa Technik is clearly demonstrating that economic efficiency and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive; indeed, these two concerns can and must guide each other.

"E-PORT-AN" constitutes a fundamental component in the "Green Ground Handling" electromobility concept at Frankfurt Airport, recognized by the Federal German Government as a "beacon" project. Partners in this initiative include the Lufthansa Group, Fraport AG, the State of Hesse, and the Rhine-Main Electromobility Model Region. This unique electromobility concept was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) and supported by Technische University Darmstadt.