Air France to evaluate operational and environmental benefits of semi-robotic TaxiBot system at Paris CDG
TaxiBot Wide Body vehicle at the TLD factory in Sorigny, France
Fri 10 Oct 2014 – The developers of the TaxiBot system that allows aircraft to taxi to and from runways without using their main engines have signed a MoU agreement with Air France to evaluate its use at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and TLD Group have formed a joint task force with Air France to study TaxiBot’s operational, economic and environmental benefits in tests on the airline’s wide-body fleet. The study will look at the system’s impact on taxiing flow at the airport and calculate reductions of CO2 and NOx emissions, as well as noise. The MoU may be extended to include further feasibility testing with Aéroports de Paris in the second quarter of 2015.
The agreement was signed after a preliminary study by an Airbus team at CDG and the Service Technique de l’Aviation Civile proved successful. Simulations indicated that a TaxiBot fleet serving 16 narrow-body and seven wide-body aircraft would be able to operate optimally at the airport.
The semi-robotic vehicle is controlled by the pilot as it transports the aircraft from the airport gate to the runway and back without the use of the engines, and has already completed certification tests at Frankfurt Airport conducted on a Lufthansa Boeing 737. The system can be used with narrow or wide body airplanes with the wide-body (WB) TaxiBot suitable for all twin-aisle Airbus and Boeing types.
The WB TaxiBot has started dynamic testing at the new TLD factory in Sorigny, France, dedicated to TaxiBot production.
Certification tests of the WB version with a wide-body aircraft is scheduled for the third quarter of 2015, with an aim to achieve supplemental type certification (STC) for the first wide-body type by the end of the year.
Two other aircraft taxiing systems under development that do not require main engines for powering the aircraft to and from the runway – from WheeelTug and EGTS International (a joint venture between Safran and Honeywell) – both require additional modifications and/or equipment attached to the nose wheel (WheelTug) or main landing gear (EGTS). The systems are designed for narrow-body aircraft and more suited to airlines requiring quick turntimes.
As the TaxiBot is independent to the aircraft, it carries no onboard weight penalty, so providing a significant reduction in fuel consumption and emissions regardless of the flight range, point out its developers.