Efficient autonomous pushback and taxiing - a step forward to reducing costs and pollution

Author: Dwayne Raes

Master Thesis


The current Pushback and Taxi procedures are very fuel inefficient these days. That is caused by the use of different airports and different types of airplanes. There are many different procedures and facilities. Therefore a low cost ground handling aircraft is going to be built. This is the purpose of the ALOHA project. All the changes will be done on an AIRBUS A320 while it is the most commonly used aircraft as low cost carriers, so a low cost and independent aircraft will be designed.
This paper will deal with the taxi and pushback procedure and not the other ground handlings like de-icing, energy supply, boarding in,…
To see if the integration of a new system is more efficient than the current-state-of-the-art, a detailed cost breakdown for ground operations and fuel consumption have to be carried out. Also all the ground handling procedure must be fully understood in order to minimize the time aspect and costs of them.
There are proposals done of making a full towing procedure or putting an electromotor in the nose gear, so the aircraft can drive autonomous. Of both proposals a procedure time schedule and a total cost calculation is made. This includes depreciation, fuel savings and maintenance cost. What also is taken in consideration is the extra DOC cost of the aircraft due to the extra weight.
Depending on the procedure there are time reductions and cost reductions.
An other issue of a shorter pushback and taxi procedure is the emission and noise reduction. It is logic that with a shorter use of the main engines that there is a lower pollution in and around the airport, what means an environmental improvement occurs.
As seen in the procedure schedules and conclusion, it will be made clear that an optimization of the procedure reduces the costs and pollution.