taxibot: AirAsia India assesses fuel savings resulting from the use of a taxibot on two modified aircraft
After modifying two of its A320s, AirAsia India began using a taxibot on November 23 to tow them to Delhi International Airport.
Taxibot is a semi-robotic towbarless aircraft movement equipment that tows an aircraft from the terminal gate to the take-off point (taxi phase) and returns it to the gate after landing (taxi phase). The plane’s engines remain off when the taxibot is in operation.
When asked how much money the airline has been able to save so far through the use of the taxibot, Surinder Bansal, Vice President, Engineering, AirAsia India, told PTI: “It is under consideration… Change costs vs. savings are still being evaluated for fleet-wide implementation.”
Taxibot is dependent on the availability of ground equipment which is currently only available at Delhi airport, he said.
“We can operate up to two taxibots per aircraft per week,” Bansal said.
AirAsia India has spent around USD 2,000 (one USD = Rs 76) on each of the two A320s to modify them and make them suitable for taxibot operations, he noted.
Bansal said the engineering changes on both planes were carried out by AirAsia India’s engineering team and involved routing more than 50 new cables inside the plane, installing relays in the avionics bay and a control panel in the cockpit, and a series of operational tests prior to certification.
The airline’s taxibot operations are carried out in conjunction with Delhi-based KSU Aviation.
In addition to saving fuel, the taxibot significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions and noise levels at airports, Bansal said.
“Starting engines later helps prevent ‘foreign object damage’ or something from the ground being sucked into the engine and damaging it, increasing safety in the apron area of the airport,” he said.