Hitching a ride: TaxiBots to take aircrafts to runway with engine off


  • A TaxiBot is a semi-robotic machine controlled by a pilot which will be used at the Delhi airport to lift the planes slightly and carry them to the runway, with the engine off.
  • DIAL officials note that during the trial runs, the cost of fuel used during the taxiing was reduced by 85%. It is also expected to decrease the noise pollution, emission of carbon dioxide, risks of jet blasts and the congestion at boarding gates.
  • In September, another three-month-long trial of the TaxiBots will begin.
In order to curb air pollution and save fuel, the Delhi airport operator is all set to buy TaxiBots to tow aircrafts from the parking bay to the runway, without the use of the aircraft’s engines.

A TaxiBot is a semi-robotic machine controlled by a pilot that will hold the planes, stationed at the apron area, by their nose wheel and lift them slightly. The plane’s pilot will then, transport the plane from the terminal gate to the runway without switching on the aircraft’s engine before take-off to enable warm-ups and technical checks. The TaxiBot can attain a maximum speed of 23 knots.

IIT Kanpur has reported that aircrafts contribute to the air pollution and the institution’s 2016 study of Delhi’s air pollution stated that at least 2% of the city’s pollution comes from aircrafts and that most of the emission from aircraft is during the LTO (landing and take-off) cycle. The electric wheels of TaxiBot are expected to decrease this pollution.

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Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) officials note that during the certificate trials, the cost of fuel used during the taxiing was reduced by 85%.

The bot will also reduce damage to the plane’s brakes. Whenever a plane applies its brakes, the nose wheel receives the entire pressure of all its weight. However, now the pressure will be on the TaxiBots, leading to lesser damage.

The Delhi airport is expected to benefit in many different ways if the plan is implemented well. It will reduce the congestion at boarding gates and it will also reduce the risks of jet blasts. The air quality of the places around the airport is expected to improve as the emission of harmful gases like carbon dioxide will decrease. The noise pollution in these areas might also reduce by a significant margin.

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At present, the plane engines get switched on after passengers board and fuel is wasted by keeping engines on as the plane taxis to the runway.

A trial of the TaxiBots will begin in September, which will last for three months ans is in association with KSU Aviation Pvt Ltd. This company will provide DIAL with the TaxiBots that have already been developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
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