Robot trucks to help airlines save on ATF

Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is set to be the first airport in the country to commence commercial use of TaxiBots — semi-robotic tow trucks — to help airlines reduce use of air turbine fuel during taxiing. SpiceJet and Jet Airways will carry out a live test with these tow trucks on Monday, following which the aviation regulator DGCA will grant approval for their use.

TaxiBot India introduced two semi-robotic tow trucks to IGI in September, which have since undergone several trials. Once the live performance evaluation with passengers onboard the aircraft is successful, the firm will sign commercial contracts with SpiceJet and Jet Airways, company spokesperson Sanjay Bahadur said.

The advanced tow trucks will be used for narrow-body planes of the two airlines and will initially be deployed only for flights departing from IGI.

The company is also in talks with Mumbai and Bengaluru airports for introducing similar operations.

Planes taxi from parking bay to runway or vice versa using their own engines to provide thrust. However, an aircraft can be steered with both its engines off with the help of a TaxiBot, which lifts and holds the aircraft’s nose wheel and transports it from the terminal to runway and back.

Soaring costs

This can help airlines save jet fuel, one of the largest expenses for an airline, accounting for nearly 30% of total operational costs.

It is estimated that at the current ATF rates, cost of fuel burnt during taxiing is ₹1,600 per minute for a narrow-body plane and ₹3,500 per minute for a wide-body plane.

According to an analysis by former vice-president of Delhi International Airport Limited Ashwani Khanna, an average 15 minutes of taxiing at six of the busiest airports in the country is likely to cost airlines collectively ₹20 billion annually by 2021. These six airports — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata — handle nearly 65% of the total air traffic in the country.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 3:24:55 PM |

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