Air India achieved a unique distinction on Tuesday for becoming the first airline in the world to use a TaxiBot on an Airbus A320 aircraft operating a Commercial flight with passengers onboard. A TaxiBot (Taxiing Robot), is a pilot controlled semi-robotic towbar-less aircraft tractor used as an alternate taxiing equipment. History was created when Air India CMD Shri Ashwani Lohani flagged off AI665 from Delhi to Mumbai at Terminal 3 today. ‘The use of taxibot on the air india aircraft at igia today morning is the first such usage on any Airbus aircraft worldwide. Really an achievement to be proud of. A giant step forward towards a cleaner environment,’ Lohani said.
Using this device, it is possible to tow the aircraft from parking bays to the runway with their engines switched off. Thus saving precious fuel and reduce Engine wear and tear. The ignition will be turned only when the aircraft reaches the runway. These TaxiBots will be used for departing flights only. This way, Air India will take a giant step towards curbing carbon emission, which will result in improving air quality and accelerate a greener aviation eco-system. Further, usage of TaxiBots will significantly bring down the consumption of fuel by as much as 85% used during taxiing of aircraft. The TaxiBots would also help in decongesting boarding gates and apron area by providing efficient pushbacks.
This is yet another initiative by Air India Team led by Director Operations Capt Amitabh Singh, to ensure a greener environment for flight operations. Recently, his team ensured the national carrier became the first Indian airline to chart the Polar Route to San Francisco, which had resulted in savings on flying time, fuel consumption and curbing carbon footprint. Earlier the Airline had taken an pioneering step by operating Commercial flights on No Destination alternate route basis.
Last month, Air India posted an operating loss of around Rs 4,600 crore in the last financial year mainly due to higher oil prices and foreign exchange losses but the debt-laden carrier expects to turn operationally profitable in 2019-20, according to senior officials. Reflecting tough business conditions, the airline's net loss stood at about Rs 8,400 crore while total revenues touched around Rs 26,400 crore in 2018-19.
Another senior official said the airline is projected to post an operating profit of Rs 700 to 800 crore in 2019-20, provided oil prices do not shoot up significantly and there is no steep fluctuation in foreign exchange rates. However, the airline incurred an operating loss of Rs 175 to 200 crore in the three months ended June as closure of Pakistan airspace for Indian carriers resulted in higher costs and caused a daily loss of Rs 3 to 4 crore when the restrictions were in place, the official said.
(With agency inputs)