Lufthansa has commenced operations with the Taxibot towing system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) with extensive cooperation from the German carrier's Lufthansa LEOS unit. Taxibot recently received approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and after extensive testing, the TaxiBot is now being used in flight operations at Frankfurt Airport.
At a media event held at Frankfurt Airport on Thursday, the TaxiBot's towing procedures were demonstrated for international journalists, while taxiing a Lufthansa Boeing 737 to the take-off position.
TaxiBot is a towbar-less 800-hp strong hybrid-electric aircraft tractor, controlled by the pilot and intended for towing aircraft between the gate and the runway with the aircraft's engines turned-off.
Lufthansa German Airlines board member - Operations & Hub Frankfurt Kay Kratky said, "With innovations like the TaxiBot, we are not only helping to conserve fuel but are also making an important contribution towards reducing noise and exhaust emissions at airports. The use of TaxiBot at Lufthansa's Frankfurt hub can save up to 2,700 metric tons of fuel on long-haul flights per year.
IAI EVP Yehoshua Eldar said, "IAI, along with its partner TLD, has been cooperating since 2007 with Lufthansa LEOS in the development of the TaxiBot, with the support of both OEMs Airbus and Boeing. TaxiBot is the only certified and operational taxiing solution in the world. We are proud to create this innovative, eco-friendly revolution in commercial aviation and would like to thank Lufthansa for their wonderful support of the TaxiBot certification and validation process. The TaxiBot family is expanding with the testing of the Wide Body (WB) model which will operate with all WB families of aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380. We look forward to the WB certification tests with a Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 and to continuing our long and fruitful cooperation with this leading flagship airline."
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Lufthansa LEOS and IAI for wide body aircraft certification testing. The test phase will be performed using a Boeing 747-400 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
A special nose wheel cradle in the TaxiBot registers all the steering movements and transfers these to navigate the tractor's eight wheels. This enables the pilot to steer the tractor from the cockpit using "Pilot Control Mode" after pushing back from the gate, until it is released at the runway. The aircraft engines are not required to start up until the TaxiBot is separated from the aircraft.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 22, 2015
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