British Airways (BA), citing the emissions benefits of the new, battery-powered machines, has deployed five remote-controlled tugs at London Heathrow's Terminal 5 (T5), replacing manned, diesel-powered tugs.
Working with the airport, BA put the Mototok push-back devices in service last month. Configured to service Airbus narrowobdies, the tugs are operated via a remote control.
The devices feature fully programmable speeds, braking curves, initial torques and over-steering protection.
Mototok says one of its tugs can manage two jetbridges. A fully charged tug can handle about 30 push-backs, and re-charging takes about 3 hours.
Heathrow plans to install charging stations at each of T5's 25 gates.
While other airlines and aircraft handlers use the Mototok, BA says its deployment is the first across multiple stands.
BA "plans to roll out the Mototok across its short-haul operation by the end of the year, and is exploring the possibility of introducing the technology to push back long-haul aircraft in the future," the carrier says.