Photo Credit: Courtesy IAI
TaxiBot and Airbus320 during certification tests

Certification tests Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) TaxiBot for the Airbus 320neo were completed successfully at Airbus facilities in Toulouse, France last week. Thew TaxiBot is a semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle for dispatch towing. During the test, 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.

According to Robert Lafontan, Airbus Senior Vice President Engineering, following the successful completion of the final certification tests for the A320 with the TaxiBot, the formal European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval is expected at the beginning of 2017.

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TaxiBot, a semi-robotic pilot-controlled vehicle, is designed to transport commercial airline aircraft from terminal gates to the runway and back, without using the airplane’s own engines. TaxiBot started dispatch-towing commercial Lufthansa Boeing 737 (Classic) flights departing out of Frankfurt Airport in November 2014.

Since 2008, IAI, together with its industrial risk-sharing partner TLD, has been cooperating with Lufthansa LEOS in the development of the TaxiBot, with support of both OEMs 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.

“The successful certification of the A320 is an important milestone for the TaxiBot program. Adding the certification of the A320 family to the already certified B737 family covers 70 percent of all the worldwide commercial airlines flights, which could be provided with TaxiBot service” said Ran Braier, Director of Civil Robotics at IAI. “Certification will enable operation of this innovative system with major airline fleets in leading airports, revolutionizing the commercial aviation industry, while saving millions of dollars in fuel costs, improving operations and contributing to the global environment.”

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