After two years of operation, British Airways has celebrated its 100,000th aircraft pushback using fully electric, remote-controlled Mototok Spacer 8600 tugs, which have been used to swiftly manoever the airline’s fleet of 140 short-haul aircraft out to the runway for take-off.
British Airways is the first and still the only airline to use the eco-friendly, emissions-free Mototok tugs, which replace diesel tugs and are part of the British Airways’ wider environmental commitment to run an emissions-free airside operation.
The airline’s team of pushback operators use remote-control devices to move the tugs, and wear wireless headsets so they can keep in contact with the pilots on board aircraft while they are pushed out to the runway.
In addition to environmental benefits, the fleet of 25 tugs in use at London’s Heathrow airport improve the airline’s operational efficiency, as there is a vehicle ready to go at each of the short-haul aircraft stands at Terminal 5. Previously, the airline used diesel tugs to push its smallest aircraft back, but these were shared between stands and could slow down the departure process.
Mandeep Johal, who pushed back the 100,000th flight out to the taxiway, says he still finds it exciting to use the new technology: “One of the best parts of my job is getting to use these new tugs and it still amazes me that this machine can push back an aircraft so easily and smoothly. This little device has become really important in helping us make sure that our customers get away on their holidays on time and safely. I take my role very seriously, but I still get excited every time I get my hands on the remote control.”
Tom Stevens, British Airways’ Head of Airports Operations, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve hit this momentous Mototok milestone. We are the most punctual of the major short-haul airlines flying out of London and this technology helps us stay at the top.