Indira Gandhi International Airport Will be First to Use Taxibots for Towing Aircrafts in India
Aviation watchdog DGCA has allowed the use of taxibots -- a semi-robotic vehicle -- to tow aircrafts, whose engines will be shut, from the parking bay to the runway holding point to curb pollution at airports and save fuel. The Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport will be the first to have these vehicles with the trial runs to be conducted for Jet Airways and SpiceJet aircrafts. These vehicles will be remotely controlled by pilots to the runway point.
The trial-run of taxibots would start with aircrafts of Jet Airways and SpiceJet soon. It is expected that by mid-October, it will be put to commercial use, KSU Aviation, the operator of the vehicle, said. The use of taxibots will help in cutting carbon dioxide emission at the IGI airport drastically. Usually, 800 kg of carbon dioxide is emitted for every 15 minutes of taxing, according to a KSU spokesperson.
Globally, in the airline space, 80 million tons of carbon dioxide is emitted every year because of aircraft taxing, the spokesperson said referring to a study. Eighty-five per cent of the fuel consumed during taxing can be checked with the use of a taxibot. Other advantages include a reduction of noise level by 60 per cent. Taxibots could also reduce foreign object damage by 50 per cent since the engine remains shut, as per some independent studies.
The Civil Aviation Ministry last week informed Parliament that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has "accepted a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) supplemental type certificate that allows taxibots to tow an aircraft from the parking bay to the runway holding point without using the main engines." Supplemental type certificate is a document issued when an applicant has received the FAA's approval to modify an aeronautical product from its original design.
The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which has developed these alternative taxiing vehicles, has already announced an agreement with India-based KSU Aviation for use of taxibots. "These are alternative taxing solution and would be used for towing only single-aisle aircrafts. It would be sort of remote controlled by the pilot from the aircraft till the runway holding point and all the while the engine would remain shut, thus bringing down pollution," the KSU spokesperson said.
The first taxibot will be brought to Chennai this month and then transported to Delhi. In all, orders for 40 these vehicles has been placed, he said, adding that airport operators in Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru have evinced keen desire in adopting this vehicle. The spokesperson said that as of now they are determining and finalising the operational procedures for use of taxibot at the IGI airport.