KLM is trialling a towing vehicle which can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by eliminating the need to start engines during the taxiing process.
The Taxibot is licensed to tow full aircraft to near to the start of the runway, which KLM said can reduce fuel consumption during taxiing by 50 to 85 per cent.
The trial has been taking place at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, initially using an empty B737 aircraft.
According to the Taxibot website, pilots remain in control of the taxiing process after pushback, using the airplane tiller and brake pedals, and the aircraft is able to taxi at 23 knots, equivalent to current airplane taxi speeds.
Schiphol has made the vehicle available to KLM, its subsidiary Transavia, and Turkish carrier Corendon Airlines, “to enable them to carry out joint research into more sustainable ways to taxi”.
Commenting on the news KLM’s project manager, Jeroen Jaartsveld said:
“It’s important to find out how far we can cut CO2 emissions by using the Taxibot. We’d also like to know how long it takes to taxi with the Taxibot, what effect this has on aircraft engine maintenance, and how we might introduce sustainable taxiing with Taxibots on a large scale into Schiphol’s daily operations.”