WestJet on Earth Day showcased its newest environmentally-friendly technology—an electric baggage tug that runs on rechargeable lithium polymer batteries. Utilized in transportation to pull baggage carts across airports to their designated planes; WestJet’s new baggage tug is the first of its kind to convert to electric.
WestJet worked with Corvus Energy to engineer the tug and the technology has been in use since October at the Calgary International Airport. A pilot project, the electric baggage tug was put to the test through the winter and its low temperatures.
"Implementing this new technology is a key part of our ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability," said Cam Kenyon, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Operations. "As an airline, we believe in investing in new ideas that will help keep our maintenance and fuel costs low, which in turn allows us to continue to deliver low fares and high value to our guests."
The baggage tug’s switch away from fossil fuels to electric allows WestJet to deliver baggage to and from airplanes approximately 11 flights a day on one charge.
"The successful integration of Corvus Energy's lithium ion battery systems into WestJet's ground support equipment represents a tremendous validation of our technology," said Brent Perry, chief executive officer of Corvus Energy. "The introduction of a lithium ion GSE solution is a significant development for the aviation sector in terms of environmental impact and worker safety and we're pleased to be at the forefront."
WestJet plans to implement two more electric baggage tugs in Whitehorse in May and expected the lithium batteries to perform successfully in the Yukon’s low temperatures, in comparison to regular baggage tug’s batteries that are prone to freezing.
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"To date, our solution is the only battery technology that requires no maintenance, works in extreme cold or hot temperatures, as well as charging faster and outlasting the incumbent technology. It represents a major advance in the aviation industry with massive market potential."