Aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing are developing aeroplanes that use less fuel, which means they produce lower emissions. The ultimate goal, of course, is electric flight. However, despite the positive developments for smaller aircraft, there are still too few electric solutions available for larger models. Schiphol recently initiated a pilot project using a ‘taxibot’, which makes it possible for an aeroplane to taxi without using its engine.
What are we planning for the long term?
In the spring of 2020, Schiphol will initiate a pilot using a ‘taxibot’, an aircraft tractor that transports the aircraft to and from the runway. This will enable the aeroplane to taxi without using its engine, which in turn will reduce emissions. The pilot project will establish the taxibot’s safety and operational feasibility, in the hope that it will then be possible to introduce sustainable taxiing at Schiphol.
This technology is already showing real promise in smaller aircraft. However, the turnaround time for the development of larger airliners is between 15 and 20 years, so we will probably have to wait until after 2030 to see these aircraft on the market.