The Boeing 737 has been officially certified for TaxiBot® dispatch towing system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and TLD Group.
The Supplement Type Certificate (STC) was issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI).
TaxiBot, a semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle, is designed to transport airline aircraft from terminal gates to the runway and back, without using the airplane's own engines (dispatch towing).
TaxiBot's in-service evaluation is expected to start next month, with regular commercial Lufthansa Boeing 737 flights departing out of Frankfurt Airport. The annual global cost of towing passenger aircraft is estimated to reach USD$8.4 billion by 2020, but TaxiBot has the potential to reduce the cost to less than USD$3 billion a year, IAI said.
The company said that the system also reduces CO2 emissions by 85 percent and noise by 50 percent. IAI claims TaxiBot offers significant savings in fuel consumption and engine emissions.
According to the company, a 737 or A320 burns about one metric ton of fuel (1,250 liters) in a typical 17-minute taxi operation. By comparison, the TaxiBot only consumes around 25 to 30 liters for the same operation. An aircraft taxiing under the power of its own engines would emit around 7,040 pounds of carbon dioxide, compared with less than 132 pounds with the TaxiBot.