Charge, Refuel, Fly. An eEconic for Aircraft Refueling


Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks recently handed-over an all-electric refueling vehicle based on the Mercedes-Benz eEconic at Stuttgart Airport, in Germany.

The vehicle will be used by the refueling service provider Skytanking. The company Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Esterer GmbH & Co. has equipped it with electrically operated 40,000-l refueling technology, which draws the energy for driving the pump directly from the vehicle batteries. It is the first refueling vehicle based on an electric series production vehicle from Daimler Truck, and also the first fully electric refueling vehicle in this class at Stuttgart Airport. The all-electric drive reduces noise and heat generation and emits neither CO2 nor particulate matter. This benefits the employees in the direct vicinity of the vehicles and is an important step for Skytanking towards electrifying its ground handling fleet.

“This vehicle is also the first all-electric tanker for Esterer,” said Julia Esterer, managing director of Esterer GmbH. “The development of a high-performance commercial vehicle with a total weight of over 50 t was a special challenge for us.

The selection of the right components was decisive in order to achieve optimum performance at the interface to the high-voltage technology. Today, we can present a comprehensive solution that is forward-looking, both economically and environmentally. The eEconic with its large installation space availability and our safety and control technology complement very well.”

“Our tests with the new refueling vehicle went smoothly. Its handling during battery charging, kerosene filling, and aircraft refueling is simple and safe. With the installed battery capacity we expect to use the eEconic for aircraft refueling for at least one day without intermittent charging. The objective of the project is to collect data that can support this and serve as a starting point for future planning in the industry,” said Oscar Sanabria, regional manager CNE Operations & IT, Skytanking.

With a total height of less than 2.80 m, the eEconic can easily pass underneath the wings of an aircraft. The panoramic windows of the “DirectVision” cab and the low seat position give the driver a wide viewing angle during approach, providing excellent visibility while maneuvering on the apron.

The 18.50 m-long vehicle has an electric axle with an integrated drive unit, as well as 2 electric motors that generate 330 kW of continuous power. When braking, electrical energy can be recovered and fed back into the batteries. The battery packs of the eEconic can be charged at up to 160 kW.

Daimler Truck and Esterer use a shared user interface to display all relevant information, such as the batteries’ state of charge, remaining range, tank body fill level, or energy consumption, on the display in the driver’s cab.

The 40,000 l Esterer tank body can refuel a wide range of aircraft. It draws directly on the electrical energy of the batteries that also power the vehicle. This concept of direct actuation of the pump is unique for use in aircraft refueling. With a flow volume of 1,500 l/min, a typical charter aircraft can be fully refueled in well under 20 min.

A Pioneer in Electrification
Stuttgart Airport has set itself the objective of reducing its direct greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2040. By 2030, all aircraft handling at Stuttgart Airport is to be climate-neutral. Now that large parts of the handling fleet as well as all passenger buses and baggage tractors have been converted to battery electric vehicles, the airport is now focusing on the electrification of the refuelling fleet.

Project Finalize! is a component of Stuttgart Airport’s climate strategy STRzero, and is being supported by the Technical University of Aachen. The real operation of the vehicle is intended to help define, understand, and optimize the required charging processes. Stuttgart Airport will also serve as a live demonstrator to foster discussion of the transferability of the measures to other airports and other sectors. The project is being financed in part by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection.

Source: Daimler Truck AG

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