Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is continuing to progress with its TaxiBot, the semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle for dispatch towing. Certification tests on an Airbus 320neo were completed successfully at Airbus facilities in Toulouse, France on 8th December.
The TaxiBot reached its maximum speed of 23 knots, performed multiple turns at different speeds and tight turns at low speed. An engine start of one and both engines of the A320neo during TaxiBotting was performed satisfactorily, as were other tests conducted by Airbus test pilots.
Following the successful completion of the final certification tests for the A320 with the TaxiBot, the formal EASA approval is expected at the beginning of 2017.
TaxiBot is a towbar-less hybrid electric vehicle designed to transport commercial airline aircraft from terminal gates to the runway and back, without using the aircraft engines. TaxiBot started dispatch-towing commercial Lufthansa Boeing 737 flights departing out of Frankfurt Airport in November 2014. The system has been in use in real flight operations since February 2015.
Since 2008, IAI, together with its industrial risk-sharing partner TLD, has been cooperating with Lufthansa Technik subsidiary Lufthansa Engineering and Operational Services (LEOS) in the development of the TaxiBot, with support of 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.