TaxiBot trials point the way ahead

Written by: Alwyn Brice |
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Research carried out by Schiphol and TaxiBot partners in the sector has shown that sustainable taxi-ing uses at least 50% less fuel compared with standard taxi-ing manoeuvres.

This can lead to significant environmental benefits since aircraft produce fewer emissions at the airport. The viability study also revealed that major adjustments need to be made to infrastructure, processes and technology for sustainable taxi-ing to become standard procedure at Schiphol. All parties involved are now identifying the steps necessary to make sustainable taxi-ing the standard procedure by 2030.

Schiphol conducted the research together with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands, KLM, Transavia, Corendon Dutch Airlines and ground handling companies dnata and KLM Ground Services. The study is part of the aviation sector's Smart and Sustainable plan and of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management's agreement for sustainable aviation. The conclusions of the research were drawn based on the results of the TaxiBot pilot study, simulations of fully sustainable taxi-ing at the airport and input from operational experts.

During the 2020 pilot, narrow-body aircraft were taken to and from the runway by a TaxiBot, the unique semi-robotic aircraft towing vehicle provided by Smart Airport Systems and jointly developed by TLD and Israel Aerospace Industries. The TaxiBot enabled aircraft to keep their engines off for most of the taxi process. This resulted in fuel savings of around 50%, depending on which runway was used. Fuel savings were shown to be as high as 65% when an aircraft was taxi-ing to the Polderbaan at Amsterdam, the runway with the longest taxi time.

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