Dispatching a fleet of electric towing vehicles for aircraft taxiing with conflict avoidance and efficient battery charging

Simon van Oosterom*, Mihaela Mitici, Jacco Hoekstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Following the Paris Accords, the aviation industry aims to become climate neutral by 2050. In this line, electric vehicles that tow aircraft during taxiing are a promising emerging technology to reduce emissions at airports. This paper proposes an end-to-end optimization framework for electric towing vehicles (ETVs) dispatchment at large airports. We integrate the routing of the ETVs in the taxiway system where minimum separation distances are ensured at all times, with the assignment of these ETVs to aircraft towing tasks and scheduling ETV battery recharging. For ETV recharging, we consider a preemptive charging policy where the charging times depend on the residual state-of-charge of the battery. We illustrate our model for one day of operations at a large European airport. The results show that the 913 arriving and departing flights can be towed with 38 ETVs, with battery charging distributed throughout the day. The fleet size is shown to increase approximately linear with the number of flights in the schedule. We also propose a greedy dispatchment of the ETVs, which is shown to achieve an optimality gap of 6% with respect to the number of required vehicles and with 22% with respect to the maximum delay during towing. We also show that both algorithms can be leveraged to account for flight delays using a rolling horizon approach, and that over 95% of the flights can be reallocated if delays occur. Overall, we propose a roadmap for ETV management at large airports, considering realistic ETV specifications (battery capabilities, kinematic properties) and requirements for aircraft collision avoidance during towing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103995
Number of pages21
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Electric aircraft taxiing
  • Electric towing vehicles
  • Partial battery recharging
  • Sustainable aviation
  • Vehicle routing problem


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