B737 TaxiBot cleared by European safety chiefs

imagesThe Boeing 737 has now been officially certified for TaxiBot dispatch towing by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The Supplement Type Certificate (STC) which has also been granted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) was issued for Boeing 737 Classic aircraft.

TaxiBot, a semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle, is designed to transport aircraft from airport gate to the runway and back, without using the aircraft’s engines.

TaxiBot in-service evaluation will start in the next few weeks, with regular commercial Lufthansa Boeing 737 flights departing from Frankfurt airport.

Since 2009, Both TLD and IAI, in cooperation with Lufthansa LEOS, have been developing the TaxiBot, with the support of both OEMs Airbus and Boeing. Lufthansa LEOS has also integrated this project into the “E-PORT-AN” initiative, focusing on carrying the performance of aircraft towing and surface traffic beyond existing limits of environmental sustainability at Frankfurt Airport.

TaxiBot executives report that leading airlines, ground-handling companies, airports and leasing companies around the world have shown considerable interest in TaxiBot. Several working groups are actively studying and preparing to introduce TaxiBot in some of the world’s leading airport hubs, in North America, Europe and Asia.

Airbus NTO (No Technical Objection) approval is expected to be issued soon for TaxiBot operational tests in Frankfurt and will allow TaxiBot to dispatch Airbus A320s to takeoff. The Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft families comprise over seventy percent of the world’s mainliner aircraft; hence the potential market is estimated at several hundreds of tractors in service the first decade alone. The return on investment for airlines is less than two years. Advanced negotiations are progressing with several potential customers.

TLD president and CEO, Jean-Marie Fulconis said: “The Boeing 737 STC certification is a key step for the TaxiBot programme. The certification provides evidence to the aviation industry of the feasibility of dispatch towing technology and its potential for saving millions of dollars to the various airlines. The entire TLD team is very proud of this achievement.”

IAI president and CEO, Joseph Weiss said: “EASA certification is a major milestone for the TaxiBot programme. This innovative system will create an eco-friendly revolution in the commercial aviation industry, and will save millions of dollars to airlines, ground-handling companies and airports worldwide. We are proud and honoured of this achievement.”

Lufthansa LEOS is supporting the TaxiBot project since its inception. “We are looking forward to validate the TaxiBot savings we calculated with our daily Lufthansa Boeing 737 operation at Frankfurt Airport.” said Gerhard Baumgarten, TaxiBot programme director at Lufthansa LEOS.

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Posted in Airlines, Airports, Environment, News

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