Clean Sky project wins Innovation Award
TaxiBot, Clean Sky "Dispatch Towing Vehicle (DTV)" project won the Innovation Award at Inter Airport Europe in Munich.
The DTV is a towbarless aircraft tractor dedicated to dispatch towing of single aisle aircrafts (e.g. A320, B737), allowing the aircraft to stop the engines during taxiing in and out.
Even though the idea of dispatch towing exists for decades, past attempts using existing tractors - dedicated to push back and maintenance towing - faced several problems:
- Insufficient installed power to achieve acceptable taxiing speeds for a transparent integration on taxiways, and taxiway traffic jams avoidance.
- Excessive loads on nose landing gear (NLG) when accelerating and braking (aircraft at maximum take-off weight, average max taxiing speed 20 knots), creating fatigue and reducing life time of the NLG.
- Responsibility: as taxiing out and taxiing in are considered as flight phases, pilot has to be responsible of the taxiing operation, and must be in control of the convoy at all time.
The DTV concept provides a comprehensive answer to the main drawbacks of classical dispatch towing, protecting airplane landing gears from excessive allowed fatigue limits at all times and allowing the pilot to stay "in control". The basic rules governing the DTV design are:
- The DTV has sufficient power to achieve taxiing speeds compatible with a transparent integration into taxiing traffic.
- Taxiing with DTV will be by pilot commands: steering behaviour will be "transparent to the Pilot"
- Loads induced to NLG do not reduce its life time (fatigue considerations)
- As a design goal, there will be no (or minor) change, alteration or modification in the towed airplane
- Braking and speed adjustment are performed by the pilot, applying the brakes, as today, on the main landing gear
Clean Sky is the most ambitious aeronautical research programme ever launched in Europe. Its mission is to develop breakthrough technologies to significantly increase the environmental performances of airplanes and air transport, resulting in less noisy and more fuel efficient aircraft, hence bringing a key contribution in achieving the Single European Sky environmental objectives.
The Clean Sky JTI (Joint Technology Initiative) was born in 2008 and represents a unique Public-Private Partnership between the European Commission and the aeronautics industry.