Taxibot trials at Schiphol airport

Written by: Alwyn Brice |
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Schiphol airport and its partners are to begin a sustainable aircraft taxi-ing trial.

Aircraft will be brought to the runway by a Taxibot during the trial, meaning that aircraft engines will be mostly shut off during taxi-ing. This test is being conducted by Schiphol in conjunction with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Corendon Dutch Airlines, KLM, Transavia, easyJet and the airline handlers dnata and KLM Ground Services. The tests began by towing an empty Corendon aircraft to various runways and if the test proves successful, the trial will continue to an operational aircraft in a subsequent phase.

The special tow vehicle belongs to Smart Airport Systems, a sister company of TLD. It is powered by a hybrid combination of electric and diesel engines and consumes 95% less fuel when taxi-ing than aircraft engines would normally use. Schiphol expects to achieve a total savings of 50-85% on fuel consumption during the taxi-ing manoeuvre because engines need to warm up for a few minutes before departure. Measurements will be taken during the testing phase to see what fuel savings can be made in practice, which could then be used to reduce emissions at Schiphol. Departing aircraft take 14 minutes to taxi, whereas arriving aircraft take around 9 minutes.

The trial will last through June and is part of a feasibility study into sustainable taxi-ing at Schiphol.

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