, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with Lufthansa LEOS' extensive support and cooperation.
After extensive testing, the TaxiBot is now being used in real flight operations at Frankfurt Airport.
This environmentally friendly aircraft ground operations at Lufthansa's Frankfurt hub can save up to 2,700 tonnes of fuel on long-haul flights per year.
At a media event held at Frankfurt Airport on 19 February, the TaxiBot's towing procedures were demonstrated for local and international journalists, while taxiing a Lufthansa Boeing 737 to the take-off position.
TaxiBot (NB) is a towbar-less 800-hp strong hybrid-electric aircraft tractor, controlled by the pilot and intended for towing aircraft between the gate and the runway with the aircraft's engines turned-off.
A special nose wheel cradle in the TaxiBot registers all the steering movements and transfers these to navigate the tractor's eight wheels. This enables the pilot to steer the tractor from the cockpit using "Pilot Control Mode" after pushing back from the gate, until it is released at the runway. The aircraft engines are not required to start up until the TaxiBot is separated from the aircraft.
The TaxiBot capable of towing Wide Body (WB) aircraft like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 is also being developed.
Accordingly, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Lufthansa LEOS and IAI for wide body aircraft certification testing. The test phase will be performed using a Boeing 747-400 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.