IAI Taxibot sets new tug speed mark
The Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) TaxiBot narrow-body aircraft tug has set a record of 23 knots (41kmh) during taxi trials with a 74 tonne Airbus 320 at its Chateauroux test site in France.
IAI says the TaxiBot system has now “proven its ability to bring the airplane to near its take-off position at the same speed as aircraft which are taxiing using their own jet engines,” thus saving fuel and without exceeding the maximum allowed fatigue load on nose landing gear.
The demonstration compares with more conventional towbar-less tractors which IAI says are limited by the aircraft manufacturer’s to tow airplanes at speeds of 17 knots or less. Taxibot is controlled by the aircraft’s pilot via the tiller and brake pedals, and IAI says pilot training is “minimal”.