Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) and European airline builder Airbus signed a memorandum of understanding at the 2009 International Paris Air Show to jointly develop an environment-friendly aircraft towing system.
Industry sources estimate the system's business potential to be $150-250 million, in 3-5 year deals. IAI declined to comment on the estimates.
The pilot-controlled towing semi-robotic Taxibot Dispatch Towing system, designed by IAI, allows both wide and narrow body commercial airplanes to taxi to and from the gate and the runway without the use of their jet engines. According to IAI, the result is reduced fuel use, reduced noise, and fewer toxic gas emissions by jet engines.
The Taxibot Dispatch Towing concept represents a potential to reduce airlines' annual fuel costs from $8 billion to less than $2 billion, carbon dioxide emissions from 18 billion tons to less than 2 million tons per year, and noise emissions by a significant margin.
IAI and Airbus are studying the performance, operational, commercial, and safety aspects of the system in a series of ground taxiing tests on Airbus's A-340-600 airplane in Toulouse. The companies have agreed that following successful test period results, they may establish a joint venture (JV) to develop and certify the Taxibot, and market the program.
IAI will supply the technology, and Airbus will market the system.
The Taxibot operational system is planned to be ready for first deliveries by the third quarter of 2011.
IAI Corporate VP of Business Development and Subsidiaries Yehushua (Shuki) Eldar said, "We are excited to work on the development of this eco-efficient taxiing dispatch system. The project demonstrates our commitment to the environment and utilizes IAI's robotics capabilities and technological experience.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 17, 2009
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009