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Brussels Airport and TUI Fly Team Up for Green Aviation Tests – Travel And Tour World

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Over the coming months, Brussels Airport will be conducting tests with a Taxibot, in collaboration with TUI fly. These tests are part of the Stargate program, an initiative under the European Green Deal aimed at promoting greener aviation practices. The Taxibot is a semi-autonomous aircraft towing system designed to reduce environmental impact by allowing planes to taxi using biodiesel instead of their own engines.

Since last week, Brussels Airport has been actively testing the Taxibot in partnership with TUI fly. This effort is a key component of the Stargate program, which was chosen by the European Commission to explore and implement sustainable aviation solutions. Brussels Airport leads this project and works alongside a consortium of 21 partners, including three other European airports and multiple airlines.

Through close collaboration with TUI fly, Brussels Airport has become the first Belgian airport to trial the Taxibot for eco-friendly taxiing. This innovative semi-robotic truck, fueled by biodiesel, facilitates engine-free taxiing for airplanes, marking a significant step towards sustainable aviation practices.

It is very important to look into innovative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of our airport operations. The Taxibot offers a new and interesting alternative for taxiing, so by testing the Taxibot at Brussels Airport, we do not only look into its operational use but also we get a clearer view on the benefits using it in our infrastructure. A great collaboration with TUI fly, as our home carriers are equally committed to continue working on greener operations.” says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport

Gunther Hofman, Managing Director TUI fly Western Region: “Since its creation, TUI fly Belgium has put sustainability at the heart of its flight operations. We are therefore proud, like all partners in Brussels Airport’s Stargate project, to contribute to greener aviation. The use of the Taxibot is an important new step in this process. This innovative vehicle will allow us to tow aircraft while saving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions”. 

A more eco-friendly solution for taxiing, the Taxibot, is a partially automated truck controllable by pilots. It is certified for sustainable taxiing and capable of maneuvering B737 and A320 aircraft. Instead of relying on aircraft engines, the Taxibot, powered by biodiesel, tows the aircraft during taxiing. Pilots retain full control, managing brakes as usual. Taxiing occurs at standard speeds, yet utilizing the Taxibot significantly slashes jet fuel consumption, emissions (up to 85% less CO2, UFP, NOx, etc.), and noise pollution (up to 60% reduction).

The objective is to trial the Taxibot on Brussels Airport’s taxiways to gauge its advantages in that specific operational environment. Despite short taxi times at Brussels Airport, employing a Taxibot is anticipated to positively impact noise and emissions compared to using aircraft engines. Testing commenced on March 25 after TUI fly pilots underwent training. The evaluation will span three months to comprehensively assess this taxiing alternative’s benefits.

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