Israel Aerospace Industries’ TaxiBot can now be used for towing the Boeing 737 in Europe.
TaxiBot, a semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle, is designed to transport airline aircraft from terminal gates to the runway and back, without using the airplane’s own engines (dispatch towing). TaxiBot’s in-service evaluation is expected to start next month, with regular commercial Lufthansa Boeing 737 flights departing out of Frankfurt Airport.
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Since 2008 IAI, along with its industrial risk-sharing partner TLD, has been cooperating with Lufthansa LEOS in the development of the TaxiBot, with the support of both OEMs Airbus and Boeing. Lufthansa LEOS has integrated the TaxiBot project into its “E-PORT-AN” initiative, aimed at taking passenger airplane towing and surface traffic performance beyond the existing limits of environmental sustainability at Frankfurt Airport.
Airbus NTO approval is expected to be issued soon for TaxiBot operational tests in Frankfurt. This will allow TaxiBot to dispatch Airbus A320s before takeoff.
IAI President and CEO, Joseph Weiss said, “EASA certification is a major milestone for the TaxiBot program. This innovative system will create an eco-friendly revolution in the commercial aviation industry, and will save millions of dollars in fuel savings for airlines, ground-handling companies and airports worldwide. We are proud and honored of this achievement.”
Julie Felgar, Boeing Commercial Airplanes managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, said, “We were pleased to support IAI in their efforts to qualify TaxiBot for use with the 737, which will help our customers save fuel on the ground.”
In other IAI news, it’s Heron unmanned aerial system is to be returned to the Royal Australian Air Force after a successful run in Afghanistan.
“The Heron is a proven capability- providing ‘eyes in the sky’ for our troops in the Middle East, ” announced Australian Minister of Defense Senator David Johnston.
“The retention of the Heron systems following their withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year will ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of this advancing technology. This is prudent planning for possible future defense scenarios.”
Once back in Australia, the Heron UASs will be used for training purposes. The Heron can also be used at the request of state governments for civilian roles, such as assistance during natural disasters.
Joseph Weiss said, “The Australian government announcement is an acknowledgment and expression of faith in the Heron system’s capabilities and its added value to the RAAF”