Clean Tech

100 TaxiBotings in about 40 days

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on January 29, 2019

Delhi airport gets cracking on environment protection

The move to save the environment is gaining momentum at the Delhi airport, the busiest airport in the country. The airport has completed 100 TaxiBotings in about 40 days (TaxiBots take an aircraft to the point of take-off). In comparison, it took Frankfurt airport about two years to touch 400 TaxiBoting full missions.

These TaxiBots, two of which are functional at the Delhi airport at the moment, are helping save on carbon emissions and noise pollution. The promoters of the TaxiBots project claim that in about two years, the Delhi airport will have 15-17 operational TaxiBots.

The TaxiBots, or semi-robotic tow trucks or also called alternative aircraft taxiing devices, are designed by Israel Aerospace Industries and manufactured by French company TLD.

What the TaxiBots do is fairly simple. They help push aircraft to a point short of the runway where they can start their engines for take-off.

Without the robots, an aircraft has to be tugged by a ground vehicle to the Tug Detach Point (TDP), which is normally reached within 1.5 to 2 minutes. Following this, the aircraft has to switch on its engines and taxi to the runway. Starting the engine early means that the aircraft not only has to use expensive aviation turbine fuel (ATF) but that this also leads to both noise and air pollution as carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

According to KSU Aviation Private Ltd, the company that has introduced TaxiBots at Delhi airport, a TaxiBot helps delay the switching on of an aircraft engine by 10 to 12 minutes.

According to Ashwani Khanna, Consultant to the project, it is estimated that the 100 TaxiBoting missions at Delhi airport have saved about 20,000 litres of ATF that would have contributed to about 54,000 kg of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Besides, TaxiBot missions also help reduce noise pollution, reduce foreign object damage to the aircraft’s engines and reduce brake wear, all of which is estimated to save about 400 minutes or about seven hours of ground time for the airlines as well as the airport.

On more runways

At the moment, the TaxiBots are allowed only on Runway 29 at the Delhi airport but work has started to enable them to run on the second of the three runways the airport has. SpiceJet and Jet Airways are among the airlines that use the TaxiBot facility at Delhi at the moment.

“A taxipoint on Runway 28 has been identified,” says Khanna, adding that now it depends on when the proposal is cleared by the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

IndiGo has got a no-technical objection from the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for the use of TaxiBots on its aircraft and is waiting for DGCA clearance to use the TaxiBots. Company officials indicate that trials with IndiGo aircraft could start in January. The airport and ATC have also agreed in principle to the use of TaxiBots on the second runway.

Plans are also afoot to take the TaxiBots to Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad airports.

Word of what India has achieved in TaxiBoting has travelled across the world, with a foreign airport operator also contacting the Indian company to try out a similar system there.

Published on January 29, 2019

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