Passengers will be familiar with the sight of the ‘tug’ vehicle attaching itself to the front wheel of the aircraft, pushing it back from the gate and then detaching so the aircraft can move to the runway.

TaxiBot presents a taxiing solution which can tow an aircraft without the engines running from the terminal gate to take off, whilst enabling the pilot to maintain control of the aircraft. It operates at regular taxiing speeds and has the added benefit of protecting the nose landing gear, which helps to maximise service life. This system has been in regular commercial use since November 2014.

The initial pushback operation is performed by the TaxiBot driver, after which the pilot takes control. While a more conventional tow tug would have to detach and move away from the aircraft after pushback, this procedure is now eliminated which helps minimise bottlenecks and delays at the departure gate area. The aircraft engines are then started before take-off. The same happens in reverse for an incoming flight.

This system is being developed to be compatible with all existing and future single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft. It requires minimal extra training for the pilot. Because the engines are not required during taxiing for take-off and landing, considerable quantities of fuel and resulting CO2 can be saved.