KLM Tests Out New Sustainable Taxiing Technology

KLM has become the latest airline to test out sustainable aircraft taxiing with TaxiBot. On 27th May, the airline announced that it had begun conducting tests with a Boeing 737 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. KLM plans to use this sustainable technology to drive down its CO2 emissions to 15% on 2005 levels.

KLM taxibot with B737
KLM has begun testing a TaxiBot to reduce CO2 emissions. Photo: KLM

KLM takes the TaxiBot for a spin

Earlier this week, on 27th May, KLM shared some exciting news. It has been testing out brand new technology to make its operations more sustainable. On Wednesday, it used a hybrid towing vehicle to maneuver an empty Boeing 737 to the runway. While it may not seem all that significant, this test is expected to prove that the TaxiBot can reduce carbon emissions from taxiing by between 50 and 85%.

The technology was delivered to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport back in March 2020, and Turkish leisure airline Corendon Airlines was the first to test it out in April. KLM is now conducting its own tests with the technology before it passes it on to its subsidiary Transavia.

KLM’s Project Manager for the initiative Jeroen Jaartsveld said the below in a statement:

“It’s important to find out how far we can cut CO2 emissions by using the Taxibot. We’d also like to know how long it takes to taxi with the Taxibot, what effect this has on aircraft engine maintenance, and how we might introduce sustainable taxiing with Taxibots on a large scale into Schiphol’s daily operations.”

close-up of KLM on taxibot
The sustainable taxiing technology has been in Amsterdam Schiphol since March 2020. Photo: KLM

So, how does the TaxiBot work?

Operational efficiency is not compromised

Moving at a rate of 23 knots, the TaxiBot does not compromise speed or operational efficiency. In fact, it gives back a lot of power to pilots. While this taxiing process does not require engines to be switched on until planes are at the start of the runway, pilots can control their movement from within the cockpit. This is an added benefit compared to regular taxiing.

In addition, the TaxiBot preserves the Nose Landing Gear lifecycle and reduces noise pollution. All in all, it seems this more sustainable taxiing solution is better all-round. It’s eco-friendly and more cost-effective by saving on fuel expenditure and damaged parts.

And it’s precisely this justification that KLM is using to drive its growth with the product. It hopes to cut its carbon footprint by 15% on 2005 levels as part of its Fly Responsibly campaign.

KLM Tests Out New Sustainable Taxiing Technology
The TaxiBot can cut emissions by 50-85% during taxi. Photo: KLM

Pioneers in sustainable technology

Despite the attention that KLM has garnered from this testing, it’s not the first airline to pioneer the technology. Neither was Corendon. Airlines in India have been using the TaxiBot since 2018. It was first deployed for SpiceJet and Air India Express’ Boeing 737 aircraft. Since then, Indigo, Go Air, Air India, and India Air Asia have been trialing the sustainable solution with Airbus A320s.

That said, KLM is one of the global leaders in sustainability beyond innovative operational solutions like the TaxiBot. It’s Fly Responsibly campaign outlines numerous strategies for issues it is currently addressing.

head-on KLM aircraft
KLM is one of the leaders in innovative environmental solutions and had a Fly Responsibly campaign to prove it. Photo: Getty Images

Among them is the promotion of its passenger carbon offsetting scheme CO2ZERO with which it says it’s been able to plant 1,000 hectares of tropical forest since 2017. In addition, it’s working on closed-loop recycling to reduce cabin waste by 50% on 2011 levels by 2030. However, KLM has put the majority of its efforts into its Sustainable Aviation Fuel dependency. It currently uses 57 times more sustainable fuel than it did nine years ago, and it’s looking to improve that.

With so much going on, it looks like KLM can feel confident that its attempt at reducing carbon emissions will be successful. Will it be enough?

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