IAI signs first $97m TaxiBot deal

Bankers Capital will buy dozens of the TaxiBot aircraft towing system for use at North American airports.

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) has signed its first TaxiBot contract. Bankers Capital Transportation Leasing Group has signed a $97 million deal to buy dozens of the TaxiBot Aircraft Towing system for narrow-body and wide-body aircraft to be operated in North America. IAI signed the contract at the Farnborough International Airshow last week.

Bankers Capital will provide the TaxiBot to airlines and airports. IAI will deliver the TaxiBots between the last quarter of 2013 and the end of 2015. The companies will set up an operational testing site for the narrow-body TaxiBot in North America by the end of 2013, based on discussions with leading US airlines.

IAI, together with Airbus and Lufthansa, demonstrated the TaxiBot proof of concept in 2011 on an Airbus A340-600 and Boeing B747-400. TaxiBot is the first successful hybrid diesel electric vehicle which enables an airplane to taxi from the gate to the runway without its engines running.

IAI VP business development and subsidiaries Yehoshua (Shuki) Eldar said, "We congratulate our first launch customer Bankers Capital and consider this to be an important landmark in the introduction of the TaxiBot into the North American market. Introducing a new technology to the aviation world is a challenging mission and we are committed to support our customers in order to ensure that this breakthrough technology will become a great commercial and environmental success."

Bankers Capital Managing Member Steven Alevy said, "The world's greatest investors, like Warren Buffet and leading technology companies like Microsoft, Intel and Google have invested in Israel because it consistently produces leading-edge technology breakthroughs. And the best and brightest in Israel are at IAI, where they have invented the new TaxiBot technology. The TaxiBot system will have a profound impact on the aviation industry and we are proud and excited to be part of the team that is bringing this new technology to market."

The TaxiBot is a semi-robotic pilot controlled vehicle to transport airplanes from the airport gate to the runway and back, without using the airplane's engines. IAI notes that airplane jet engines are very efficient in flight but very inefficient on the ground. A typical Boeing 747 burns through 1 ton of fuel and emits 3.2 tons of carbon dioxide during an average 17 minute taxi. By towing the same airplane to the runway the TaxiBot system uses only 25-30 liters of fuel and emits less than 60 kg of carbon dioxide. At the same time, traversing without its engines could significantly reduce a plane's risk of foreign object debris damage.

IAI adds that a key advantage of the TaxiBot is its flexibility, as it can be used at almost any airport and on nearly any plane. Since it is completely external to the aircraft, it does not require any expensive fittings or major modifications and does not add any extra weight to the plane

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 19, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012.

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