Odisha: BPIA to introduce electric aircraft towing vehicles to reduce emission

An aircraft takes a taxiway to reach the holding point.
Biju Patnaik International Airport
Biju Patnaik International Airport (File Photo | EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: In a first-of-its-kind initiative in Odisha, the Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) in the state capital has planned to introduce electric vehicles to tow aircraft between runway holding points and aprons.

Currently, the aircraft operating at BPIA are reaching the aprons from holding points by using their own power. They will be towed till the aprons by the electric vehicles after the new system is implemented in the airport. This will not only reduce emissions but also save fuel for the airlines, officials said.

As of now, pushback tractors are being used to push aircraft away from the aprons, allowing them to start their engines and taxi out to the runway. The electric vehicles will also tow the aircraft from the aprons to the holding points, said BPIA sources.

The distance between runway and holding points is about 90 metre. An aircraft takes a taxiway to reach the holding point. Once a plane crosses the holding point, it is declared as cleared from the runway.

“Electric vehicles that tow aircraft between runway holding points and aprons are seen as a key enabling technology for reduction of emissions. They will also help in fuel consumption of the airlines,” said a senior official of BPIA.

BPIA has seven taxiways, six holding points and three aprons. There are a total of 24 parking bays in the three aprons. Sources said separate service roads will also be created for the electric vehicles to tow the aircraft till aprons and back to holding points.

“The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has sought a detailed proposal to introduce the electric vehicle facility to tow the aircraft. The proposal will soon be sent to AAI for its approval and implementation,” said a senior BPIA official.

Meanwhile, BPIA’s runway re-carpeting work is expected to be completed by March 31. Flight operations between 11 pm and 7 am will remain suspended till the period. The re-carpeting work of the 2,744-metre-long runway is being carried out at an estimated cost of about Rs 72 crore, said sources. BPIA’s runway was last re-carpeted in 2007. Re-carpeting is usually done in every 10 years and the project was delayed for over five years.

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