Last week, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines tested a new, more sustainable way to taxi aircraft to the runway.
The vehicle, TaxiBot will cut CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by considerable amounts. These amounts range between 50-85% when the aircraft is taxied to the runway instead of doing so itself. As a result, the aircraft need to not start its engine during taxi. TaxiBot is a semi-autonomous, unlike “normal” pushback trucks. Despite its hybridity, the vehicle is licensed to tow aircraft to the very start of the runway.
So far, the trial has been using an empty Boeing 737 aircraft with pilots still in control of movement. In using the airplane tiller and brake pedals, pilots are able to steer the aircraft up to a speed of 23 knots. This is roughly the same as the traditional, non-TaxiBot, speed. Additionally, the TaxiBot offers reduced noise and air pollution without affecting airport safety and efficiency. With all this, the technology is able to save airlines billions in fuel costs and Foreign Object Damage.
The TaxiBot is currently available to KLM, its Transavia subsidiary, and Turkish carrier Corendon. Together, the three airlines will carry out joint research into more sustainable ways to taxi.
Focus on Sustainability
The TaxiBot is part of a wider sustainability initiative from KLM. The Dutch airlines “Fly Responsibly” campaign aims to cut carbon emissions from the Dutch Airlines fleet by 15% (in comparison to 2005 levels). Furthermore, KLM seeks to reduce carbon emissions from ground operations to 0% by 2030. Already one of the world’s most sustainable airlines, in one of the world’s most sustainable countries, the new TaxiBot initiative directly targets the specific emissions caused by taxiing.
On the TaxiBot trial, KLM’s project manager, Jeroen Jaartsveld explained, “It’s important to find out how far we can cut CO2 emissions by using the Taxibot,” continuing with, “We’d also like to know how long it takes to taxi with the Taxibot, what effect this has on aircraft engine maintenance, and how we might introduce sustainable taxiing with Taxibots on a large scale into Schiphol’s daily operations.”
With this impressive technology, hopefully it will prove environmentally impactful and, who knows, maybe even help your travel budget too! What do you think, will TaxiBot play into your airline decision for your next holiday?
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