Air India Debuts First Semi Autonomous Tug In Delhi

Air India has introduced its first semi autonomous tug. The aircraft tractor debuted its services in New Delhi today.
Air India Boeing 777 -200
Air India is proud of the introduction of its new tug. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

Eastern Eye reports that the Indian carrier is the first in the world to use this technology on an A320. The vehicle, titled Taxibot, carried flight AI665 to its runway at Indira Gandhi International Airport. The aircraft was then detached and ready to fly to its destination of Bombay.

Clever invention

Innovations such as Taxibot are useful to save on emissions that are produced when taxiing aircraft at airports. The device can be used to pull aircraft for taxi, as well as helping with decongestion. Ashwani Lohani, the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, is proud of the achievement that his firm made.
“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,” Lohani said, as reported by Eastern Eye.
“Really an achievement to be proud of. A giant step forward towards a cleaner environment.”
According to a spokesperson for the South Asian airline, the use of Taxibots will bring down fuel consumption by 85 percent during the taxi process. With India tackling a nationwide issue of air pollution, this a step in the right direction.
Air India 777-300ER
Air India’s new Taxibot seeks to reduce emissions during an aircraft’s Taxi process. Photo: MitRebuad via Wikimedia Commons

Environmental concerns

According to the Financial Times. 140 million people in India are breathing air that is 10 times or more over the World Health Organization’s safe limit. A huge portion of the country has reduced access to electricity and natural gas. Therefore, many of those in rural areas turn to the burning of wood and biomass to cook and stay warm. This has created a domino effect in the country with winds pushing the polluted air across cities and towns.
Along with India’s air problems, its neighbor China also has similar issues of its own. However, China’s pollution may also have an impact on India due to its close proximity. Ultimately, if initiatives like this continue to be implemented on flights across the region, it can help tackle parts of the wider situation.
Across the globe, other airlines are using similar technologies to help with taxiing. British Airways recently celebrated its 100,000th aircraft pushback using the carrier’s electric, remote-controlled Mototok tugs. These devices are part of BA’s long-term plan to reduce emissions from all vehicles at its base at London Heathrow.
British Airways A320
British Airways recently introduced a remote control tug at Heathrow. Photo: Aero Pixels via Wikimedia Commons

The right step

With the global conscience of climate change continuing to grow, initiatives such as this are welcome. However, many will still feel that airlines have to do more in their role as contributors to emissions.
Simply Flying contacted Air India on today’s news but had not heard back prior to comment. We will update with further announcements.
What do you think of technologies such as this? Let us know your thoughts on the Taxibot in the comments.
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