TELLURIDE – Telluride Regional Airport’s new electric-powered aircraft-towing tractor car was put to good use over Labor Day weekend, pulling one aircraft – in for the Telluride Film Festival – weighing a whopping 63,000 lbs.
Airport Director Rich Nuttall said engineers converted the diesel-powered military surplus American Coleman tractor to run on electricity before putting it to use.
The converted American Coleman tractor adds to the airport’s fleet of electric-only tractor tugs that are reducing its overall fuel consumption – and its carbon footprint.
“Converting the tug to electric helps us with a lot of things,” said TEX Director Rich Nuttall. “It helps us reduce our emissions, it’s more powerful because electric-powered engines produce more torque and it’s much cheaper to maintain than a diesel engine.”
Purchasing a recycled tractor saved the airport $46,000, although the conversion cost $42,000. Still, said Nuttall, the conversion will pay for itself, because the new tractor is less costly to run and requires far less maintenance than the diesel version did.
Six 24-volt batters power the aircraft tug, allowing the electric motor to generate around 50 horsepower. Electric tugs are preferable for towing aircraft, Nuttall said, because they generate plenty of power and drive only small distances.
“One of the other things we’re trying to do here is to encourage other airports to see what we’ve done and to have them understand that this technology is available,” said Nuttall. It’s his hope that the successful conversion will lead other airports to “look at the cost-savings that are involved, and how recycling old equipment can have a positive environmental effect.”
TEX now has a fleet of electric vehicles, including golf carts, three other tugs and a Polaris Ranger.