British Airways’ new electric robot has slashed pushback delays by 54% at one of the world's busiest airports — we used it to move a 130-ton aeroplane

  • We tested British Airways’ new mototok robot, which is able to push back aeroplanes weighing up to 130 tons.
  • We had a 15-minute training session before being allowed to operate the remote-controlled machine.
  • The mototok is helping reduce delays and emissions.
  • The aim is to eventually replace traditional tugs.

British Airways (BA) invited Business Insider to test out its brand-new pushback machine that can move aeroplanes weighing up to 130 tons.

The mototok, an electric device that has been in use exclusively by British Airways since 2017, has helped reduce pushback delays at London Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, by up to 54%, according to the carrier. Fewer delays means less emissions.

BA owns two different-sized mototoks: a smaller machine called the SPACER 8600 that can push up to 90 tons and a larger version called the SPACER 195 that can move up to 195 tons.

The remote-controlled device is simple to operate. It took us around 15 minutes to get to grips with it before pushing back a Boeing 767-300.

The smaller SPACER 8600 is currently in full operation within Heathrow Terminal 5A, which has 28 mototok machines at docking stations.

The larger machine is still in a testing phase, but BA hopes to have it operating on passenger-carrying flights by 2019.

Produced and filmed by David Ibekwe. Additional Camera by Leon Siciliano. Special Thanks to British Airways.

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