A significant breakthrough for Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) in the towing passenger aircraft TaxiBot program: The company announced today that the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have certified the IAI developed TaxiBot system for airport towing of the narrow-body Boeing 737 jet. Lufthansa will be the first airline to use the semi-robotic vehicle, raising the interest of many other airlines worldwide. In two weeks, the company will begin operating the vehicle at the Frankfurt Airport.
TaxiBot is a vehicle that attaches to an aircraft at the gate and is controlled by the pilot, who uses it to lead the airplane to the runway. The advantage of using this vehicle is that the flight crew will not need to operate the plane’s engines until it reaches the runway. This will save airlines a great deal of fuel, reduce emissions, and significantly reduce noise pollution.
IAI said today that a Boeing 737 jet uses an average of 1.25 tons of jet fuel in the 17 minutes prior to takeoff. During this time, the aircraft emits an average of 3.2 tons of carbon dioxide. If a jet is towed with TaxiBot, the crew can operate the engines shortly before takeoff instead. TaxiBot uses a minimal amount of fuel - just 25-30 liters. TaxiBot can transport an airplane full of passengers at a speed of up to 42 kmph.
Airbus is expected to approve the towing of its narrow-body jet A 320 by TaxiBot soon as well. IAI said that 70% of the total fleets of all the airlines in world are either A 320s or Boeing 737s a figure that is a testament to the great financial potential of the new, environmentally friendly system. IAI VP Procurement and Logistics Yehoshua (Shuki) Eldar estimated the potential company revenue in the coming years from sales of the towing vehicles as being in the “many hundreds of millions of dollars,” and said that the company’s development investment would be returned within two years. According to Eldar, in about a year, the company will complete licensing procedures to allow the vehicle to tow wide-body jets as well. IAI said that the certification from Israel and Europe will pave the way for similar operating licenses to be issued in airports in the US and other countries.
French maker of airport ground support equipment TLD Group is partner in the TaxiBot program. According to the agreement between the two companies, the vehicle’s control system will be manufactured at the IAI Lahav plant in Lod, Israel, and the vehicle itself will be assembled in France. The two companies plan to establish a joint company in the future, which will manage the production and marketing of the towing vehicle. IAI and TLD Group recently signed a Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) with Air France to review and study the new system at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. IAI stated that advanced talks are underway with many other major airlines that have expressed great interest in the system as well.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 3, 2014
Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014