Lufthansa has recently successfully completed testing of its new TaxiBot aircraft towing technology on Dunsfold airfield in England.
During the test, pilots from a B747 aircraft cockpit steered the towing tractor, which was attached to an aircraft-dummy at the proper position, over a real nose-gear.
The demonstrator vehicle, which underwent three years of preparation, reportedly displayed unhindered control during the test.
Lufthansa's A330/A340-fleet technical pilot (Cpt) Intercont Eric Bos said the manoeuvrability of the TaxiBot even exceeds the aircraft's own thrust in some situations, particularly in tight curves or at low speed.
Lufthansa LEOS and Airbus Industries has refined the TaxiBot system, which is based on a technology patented by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Lufthansa pilots and Airbus test-pilots will conduct intense practicability tests on the TaxiBot system at Airbus Industries in Toulouse during March.
The first operational prototype of TaxiBot will be built by French GSE-manufacturer TLD, following the positive outcome of these tests.
The first TaxiBot is expected to be ready for deployment at an airport by mid-2012.