An Israeli-made semi-robotic airplane tow vehicle made its debut at Frankfurt Airport last week in a ceremony attended by journalists from around the world.
A semi-robotic, pilot-controlled towing tractor developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) known as "Taxibot" was deployed for use last week for the first time at Frankfurt airport, raising hopes that its use may become more widespread as airline companies seek to reduce fuel emissions and costs.
The pushback tractors currently used in all airports worldwide only move aircraft from the terminal itself, but do not eliminate the need for planes to then taxi themselves across airports — a costly and inefficient procedure.
The TaxiBot allows the pilot to drive the plane from the cockpit via remote control and take it from the terminal to the runway, without having to use the plane’s engine. This reduces airport carbon emissions and can eliminate bottlenecks in the gate area. According to IAI, a standard Boeing 747 expends an average of 1.25 tons of jet fuel in the 17 minutes prior to takeoff. Taxibot, however, cuts this figure to a mere 25-30 liters per plane. Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) “TaxiBot” was designed to ferry the most commonly used passenger airplane, the Boeing 737, from its terminal to the runway.
The TaxiBot was first tested on a commercial Lufthansa flight, and later, after a thorough and prolonged review, was approved by Israeli and European aviation authorities. During The ceremony, a memorandum of understanding was signing between IAI and Lufthansa to develop a larger TaxiBot model to support larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380.