TaxiBot: Alternative taxiing solution

Dr Ashwani Khanna says the time is now for ground service providers to turn to alternative taxiing solutions such as TaxiBot to make operations more sustainable.

Many readers are familiar with TaxiBot already, the ingenious semi-robotic dispatch-towing tractor. It burst on the scene more than five years ago, brainchild of IAI and manufactured by leading GSE provider TLD.

After years of engineering development, the TaxiBot is now a viable green taxiing solution for many airport operations worldwide, in particular Europe and India, with plans now for Canada to be its next destination as early as this autumn.

Schiphol airport recently became the first airport in Europe to buy two TaxiBots as part of its plan to make aviation more sustainable. TUI, Viggo and Swissport will soon be participating in performance evaluations of TaxiBot as part of a European initiative – the ALBATROSS project – aimed at developing more sustainable flight operations.

Further afield, TaxiBot, which is operated and owned by KSU Aviation in India (which has  prominent ground handler Celebi Aviation as a major shareholder), has already had a significant impact on the subcontinent with many airlines and two main airports – Indira Gandhi International Airport New Delhi and Kempegowda International Airport Bangalore  now using the solution. It has won many green accolades including from the Airport Council International for improving local air quality at New Delhi. SpiceJet is also one of the biggest operators of TaxiBot in India and was recognized for using it when it won the ‘Best Airline – Aviation Sustainability and Environment Award’ at the Wings India Awards 2020 at Hyderabad Airport.

Impressively, to date, there have been 2527 TaxiBot operations that have taken place in India, which has saved around 469 tons of ATF.

Speaking at the GHI Americas conference earlier this year, Khanna said: “With 2154 TaxiBot operations in India we saved 1300 tons of CO2 ‒ that costs money. The Boeing 737 or Airbus 320 consumed 250 to 275kg of ATF for a 15 minute taxi time. While flying some 2 to 2.5 tons per hour, you can imagine how many hours of fuel that was saved by just having TaxiBot operations not to mention around 1,300 tons of CO2 prevented from entering the atmosphere. I understand people are planning for sustainable fuel, but today the TaxiBot solution is available now.”

With 2,154 TaxiBot operations in India we saved 1,300 tons of CO2


Across the pond, airports in Canada are ready to embrace Taxibot, with plans afoot to roll out 26 TaxiBot units over a three-year period, which could include Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton.

Khanna is also the director of Alternate Aeroworks Canada the company performing these operations and added that based on data provided by Montréal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) airport, each TaxiBot could save more than 4,000 tons of CO2 on an annual basis at YUL and some 104,000 tons of CO2 annually across all five airports.

“Apart from the environmental benefits, there are other associated benefits of enhanced safety, quicker turnaround and reduced ground time, higher asset utilisation and reduced noise on the apron,” he said.

“Alternate Aeroworks Canada has a unique offer of pay per use of operating TaxiBot, and every time the airline uses TaxiBot they end up saving money and reducing their carbon footprint.”
As the roll-out in Canada begins, Khanna is confident more airports in the US will be curious to embrace TaxiBot. “It will be a spark that will make the US aviation market adapt to this alternate taxiing solution,” he said. At the GHI Americas conference he presented findings, stating a positive business case for using TaxiBot at America airports. Using FAA figures based on the top 25 US airports, he found that up to 6.5 billion dollars could be saved over a five year period if they implemented TaxiBot.

“America is a very big market and has huge potential,” said Khanna. “In the US, if an alternative taxiing system was used today at some of the top airports for narrow body operations, in a year there would be potential for making between two to three billion dollars’ worth of savings. Airlines are losing money for multiple reasons due to Covid etc., but TaxiBot is a ready solution to counteract such losses, which can be adapted to suit airport requirements.”

And to the naysayers that say you need a lot of infrastructure to implement TaxiBot, he said: “There is a general myth by the airports that you need a lot of infrastructure to support the TaxiBot operation. I have implemented TaxiBots at two airports in India and completed survey of two more airports. We have completed surveys at two  airports in Canada, and I initially assisted Schiphol put their survey and processes together, so airports are ready. There may be airports which have infrastructure which is not very supportive for a larger number of TaxiBot operations, but nothing should stop TaxiBoting from starting and to make it more viable, airports could add certain requirements with time to make Taxibotting better.”

TaxiBot system will impact the environment

• Up to 85% reduction of fuel consumption • Up to 85% reduction of CO2 and other noxious emission during taxi • 60% reduction in noise pollution • 50% reduction of FOD per takeoff

What is TaxiBot? How does it work?

The hybrid vehicle tows an aircraft from the terminal gate to the runway without the engines running and is controlled by the pilot. It becomes an extension of the nose landing gear. As a result, it generates substantial fuel cost savings for airlines and reduces carbon emissions during taxiing. TaxiBot can also taxi aircraft to the gate after landing.

Taxibotting at Delhi and Bangalore Airport

Missions: 2,527 Fuel saved: 469 tons CO2 emissions reduced: 1,482 tons Ground time saved: 177 hours Engine life saved: 590 hours Count of certified Taxibot crew: 2,589

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