Today, technology is changing everything for the better. Efforts are underway in all industries to use technology to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and build more sustainable alternatives to how things are presently done.
In the aviation business, there is a current need for a more efficient way of towing and/or taxing a plane to and from a runway. Modern aircraft have up to four engines that are all used to reach the runway from the terminal. In places as busy as Los Angeles International LAX, it however takes more than an hour till the plane is actually authorized to take off. The fuel used up in that time costs a lot of money than could be more useful elsewhere, not to mention the environmental consequences of this excess.
The whole process of taxiing and choosing the terminals from which a plane departs is a complex and time taking process managed by the airport controllers. A solution to the current problems of taxing, according to Armando Poeta would be developing and using an electric tow to move the aircraft to and from the runway without any engines(or fuel) until they are needed for takeoff. Armando Poeta envisions this device connecting to the plane at the gate, which would be operated by the ground crew for the push-back maneuvers in the close and congested area of the terminal. Currently, when the ground crew disconnects from the tow, the pilots start the engines and start to taxi. This can happen on a single engine but, sometimes up to four engines can be started to taxi.
An alternative would be a new I- ATS being activated at this point of taxiing. This could be either operated by the pilot using aircraft flight controls, giving them the control to stop for checks as needed, or it could be operated by a ground controller. Once the pilot or controller decides that the plane is at the point where the pilot needs to start the engines in preparation for takeoff, the system will be disconnected. It can be then routed to a dedicated place at the airport where it can recharge while waiting for the next plane to tow.
Similarly, this system can also be used to tow the aircraft back to the gate after landing — maneuvers that can take just as long as the taxi out for takeoff considering the current and future congestion of busy airports around the world.
In the future, Armando Poeta imagines the development of a system that will be completely autonomous. The system would be able to take the plane to its destination with no intervention from humans.
Armando Poeta suggests such systems be completely electric to reduce or replace both the use of fuel and the emissions from engines, until necessary. This system would be completely integrated into the airport system with the controller and pilots operating it and giving inputs to determine its best use and destination.
As the world population continues to grow, Armando Poeta believes such autonomous systems which reduce human effort and are better for the environment will become essential in ever more congested airports. Technology and AI are the future, and the aviation industry can benefit from them the most.