Monday, 27 April 2020

Low Emission Hybrid Taxibot Trial at Schiphol

Schiphol Airport and its partners are to begin an aircraft sustainable taxiing trial. Aircraft will be brought to the runway by a special hybrid tow vehicle, also known as the ‘taxibot’. 

This means that aircraft engines will be mostly remaining turned off during taxiing. This test is being conducted by Schiphol with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands, the Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) Corendon Dutch Airlines, KLM, Transavia, easyJet and the airline handlers dnata and KLM Ground Services. 
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 special tow vehicle belongs to Smart Airport Systems; a sister company of TLD, the supplier of ground-handling equipment. The vehicle is one of only ten in the world. It is powered by a hybrid combination of electric and diesel engines and consumes 95% less fuel when taxiing than aircraft engines would normally use. 
Schiphol expects to achieve a total savings of 50-85% on fuel consumption during taxiing because engines need to warm-up for a few minutes before departure. Measurements will be taken during the testing phase to see what fuel savings can be made in practice, which can then be used to reduce emissions at Schiphol. 
Departing aircraft take 14 minutes to taxi, whereas arriving aircraft take around 9 minutes.

The trial 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. 
This feasibility study is expected to be complete in autumn 2020. 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).

Hassan Charaf, Head of Innovation at Royal Schiphol Group "This study aligns with our ambition to be the world’s most sustainable airport. 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"

Freek van der Pal, Managing Director of Corendon Dutch Airlines "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"

"LVNL is committed to sustainable innovation, together with our partners. We will continue to be during these times when traffic supply has decreased sharply due to the corona pandemic. We are excited about participating in these trials and look forward to the conclusions. In doing so, we will contribute to cleaner aviation, and to creating value for Schiphol’s surroundings and the Netherlands at large"
José Daenen, Director of Operations at LVNL

Focus Comment

As a previous frequent traveller through Amsterdam Schiphol Airport I always found it frustrating to find that my plane was taking off or landing on the Polderbaan runway.
The airlines at AMS have no say about which runway they're assigned for a flight, so they can't elect to avoid one or the other. 
Taxi times to the 01R-36L Polderbaan can be as long as half an hour, depending on whether other runways can be crossed at the halfway point, leading to a welcome reduction in taxi time.