British Airways’ reaches a technological milestone

Automated pushback devices have reduced airside emissions and improved punctuality.

British Airways reached a technological milestone when the 100,000th aircraft was pushed back using a fully automated, remote-controlled Mototok device.

Traditionally diesel tugs are used to push aircraft back from their stands and into position to start taxiing. The Mototok has several advantages over tugs including being emission-free. As diesel tugs are shared between stands, this can slow the departure.

The Mototok devices move planes with exacting precision and British Airways now has 25 in use at Heathrow, with a vehicle ready to go on each of its short-haul aircraft stands at Terminal 5.

British Airways is the first and only airline to use the Mototok tugs. Its team of pushback operators use a remote control to move the Mototok Spacer 8600. They wear a wireless headset to keep in direct contact with the pilots, while the aircraft is pushed back on to the runway.

To see a video of the Mototok pushing back the 100,000th aircraft click here.

Tom Stevens, British Airways’ head of airports operations said: “British Airways is at the forefront of airport innovation, from the self-service and biometric technology our customers use to quickly board flights, to these automatic pushback vehicles. Our commitment to enhancing and streamlining technology will only increase as we continue our £6.5 billion investment for customers.”

As the airline continues to invest in technology, it is also exploring innovation and the future of flying as part of its centenary. It has launched BA2119: Flight of the Future, a first-of-its-kind exhibition looking ahead to the next 100 years of flying and imagining what it may look like.

The exhibition is open at Saatchi Gallery throughout August, British Airways’ birthday month, and is based on in-depth global research commissioned by the airline to find out what aviation could look like in 20 years, 40 years, 60 years and beyond.