National carrier Air India (AI) on Tuesday became the first airline in the world to use a TaxiBot on an Airbus A320 aircraft operating a commercial flight with passengers onboard.
A TaxiBot or a Taxiing Robot is a pilot-controlled semi-robotic towbar-less aircraft tractor used as an alternate taxiing equipment. It is used for taxiing an aircraft from parking bay to runway and vice versa.
The aircraft of AI 665 Delhi-Mumbai flight, brought to the runway at IGI airport’s Terminal 3 using the TaxiBot, was flagged off by Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani on Tuesday morning.
“The use of Taxibot on the Air India aircraft at Indira Gandhi International Airport today morning is the first such usage on any Airbus aircraft worldwide. Really an achievement to be proud of. A giant step forward towards a cleaner environment,” Lohani said, reports PTI.
The TaxiBot can tow an aircraft, with its engines switched off, from parking bays to the runway. This will help in saving fuel, bringing down consumption by as much as 85% used during taxiing of aircraft, said an official AI statement. It will further reduce wear and tear of the engine and curb carbon emission, thus improving air quality. The TaxiBots would also help in decongesting boarding gates and apron area by providing efficient pushbacks.
For now, the TaxiBots will be used for departing flights only.
Using TaxiBot is another initiave by AI Team to ensure a greener environment for flight operations, the statement added.
The national carrier is also the first Indian airline to fly the Polar Route to San Fracisco. This resulted in saving on flying time, fuel consumption and curbing carbon footprint.