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‘Sustainable aircraft taxiing trial launched at Schiphol

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Amsterdam Schiphol and its partners have begun what it is calling a sustainable aircraft taxiing trial using a vehicle known as a ‘taxibot’.

Belonging to Smart Airport Systems and one of only ten in the world, Schiphol’s taxibot is powered by a hybrid combination of electric and diesel engines that is expected to reduce airline fuel consumption by up to 85% during the aircraft taxiing process.

The airport notes that departing aircraft can take 14 minutes to taxi between the gate and the apron/airfield, whereas arriving aircraft take around nine minutes.

“This study aligns with our ambition to be the world’s most sustainable airport,” comments the Royal Schiphol Group’s head of innovation, Hassan Charaf.

“We are continuing with this important test despite the situation that the corona crisis has caused. This unique vehicle will be at our disposal until at least June. I am proud that Schiphol and its partners are investigating what sustainable taxiing at Schiphol can mean.”

The trial – being conducted in conjunction with Dutch Air Traffic Control, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Corendon Dutch Airlines, KLM, Transavia, easyJet and the airline handlers dnata and KLM Ground Services – will last through June and is part of a feasibility study into sustainable taxiing at Schiphol.

Some of the items being investigated include how sustainable taxiing can be integrated into daily operations; whether it is achievable on a large scale; and how long and in what time period the transition phase should be.

All photos courtesy of Roger Cremers.

The trial is part of the smart and sustainable sector plan and is being conducted with the approval of the Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport?(Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate, or?ILT).

The tests began by towing an empty Corendon plane to various runways. If the test is a success, the trial will continue to an operational aircraft in the subsequent phase.

The airline’s managing director, Freek van der Pal, says: “This project is a perfect fit within our sustainability policy. Our ambition is to reduce CO2 emission levels and to work together with our partners in chain to make the aviation industry more sustainable.

“We are also very proud to be the first airline to test out the ‘taxi bot’. That suits our entrepreneurial nature and our pioneering spirit. The first tests with our plane went well. Therefore, we hope for a positive outcome from the trials and that we and our partners can roll it out in the near future.”

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