Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) TaxiBot, the semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle for dispatch towing, has obtained EASA certification for operation with the Airbus A320 aircraft family.
The certification includes the approval for engine start-up during taxi for all types of the A318-319-320-321 aircraft, including the NEO variants. Certification of the A320 aircraft family by Airbus and EASA is valid also for the FAA, and it joins existing certification for operation of the TaxiBot with all types of the B737 aircraft. The certification for both A320 and B737 families covers more than 70% of the world’s commercial flights.
TaxiBot is designed to transport commercial airline aircraft from terminal gates to the runway and back, without using the airplane’s own engines. TaxiBot started dispatch-towing commercial Lufthansa Boeing 737 (classic) flights departing out of Frankfurt Airport in Germany November 2014.
IAI, along with its industrial risk-sharing partner TLD, has been cooperating with Lufthansa LEOS in the development of the TaxiBot, with support of both OEMs Airbus and Boeing.
Lufthansa LEOS has integrated the TaxiBot project into its “E-PORT-AN” initiative, aimed at taking passenger airplane towing and surface-traffic performance beyond the existing limits of environmental sustainability at Frankfurt Airport.
Shaul Shahar, IAI executive vice president and general manager of the Military Aircraft Group, said, “The certification of the A320 is a significant milestone for the TaxiBot program. Adding the certification of the A320 family including the approval for engines start during taxiing to the already certified B737 family will enhance the ability to provide TaxiBot services to airline fleets across the globe.
“Even with the current low fuel price, the saving for airlines can add up to millions of dollars per year. The option to optimize engines start whenever needed improves operations beyond the original plan, while maintaining the contribution to the global environment”.
May 23, 2017