Today, airlines have realized savings of thousands of dollars in operating costs when using towbarless tractors to replace aircraft taxiing to move aircraft on taxiways at high speed during maintenance towing and spotting. Huge savings come from lower aircraft engine cycle times and hours, aircraft fuel savings and manpower. There are reports that show the savings actually equaled the tractor’s purchase price in one year.
When it comes to the cost to maintain the units, a conventional tractor’s simple design and fewer operating components is less costly to maintain in comparison to the towbarless tractor. The towbarless tractors also require technicians with greater knowledge of hydraulics and electronics to maintain the nose wheel pick up system.
From a global perspective, we have observed that towbarless tractors are most popular in Western Europe where they are used for both push outs and high-speed towing. In North America, Asia and the Middle East, they are used primarily for maintenance towing. Africa and Latin America have stayed with conventional tractors.
It is JBT AeroTech’s recommendation, that when deciding on a conventional or towbarless tractor, the decision should not be based upon the unit selling price but on which type of tractor offers the best safety, performance and efficiency for your operation.