Fraport and Lufthansa co-test remote-controlled aircraft tug at FRA

Fraport AG and Lufthansa are working together to co-test the Mototok Spacer 8600, an innovative, remote-controlled aircraft tug.

Fraport Ground Services at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) operates the Mototok Spacer 8600 remote-controlled electric tug vehicle, while Lufthansa supplies aircraft for the pushback, a procedure during which the e-tug pushes the aircraft backwards out of its parking position and on to the taxiway. The Mototok Spacer 8600 is designed for use with the A320 family as well as the 737.

The Mototok Spacer 8600 is one-third the size of many conventional tugs, and can be stationed and charged in a fixed parking position, thus remaining available for use and avoiding long travel distances between positions. E-vehicles can manage between 30 and 50 pushback procedures without having to be charged, which could support Fraport’s plans to reduce emissions in the future. Lufthansa VP of group commercial airport infrastructure Jörg Mnich also highlighted the potential benefits the new technology could bring to ground handling services in the future, as the vehicles can help “ensure a stable flight schedule and, ultimately, to give our customers the reliability they require.”

Both Fraport and Lufthansa have attained status as leaders in innovating airfreight operations. Earlier this year, Fraport began leveraging the FAIR@Link AirCargo Community System to optimize and speed up transport and freight processes. The platform includes processes for customs, security, dangerous goods and supply chain management, many of which are automatable. Lufthansa Cargo has also worked to digitalize its airfreight operations through collaborations with Freightos on instant “e-booking“ of cargo. Lufthansa became the first carrier to use IATA’s electronic dangerous goods declaration (e-DGD) form at FRA, using the digital service called INFr8.

Lufthansa Cargo and Fraport Ground Services renewed their contract last year to extend their ground-handling partnership at FRA to 2025. While the agreement focuses on the loading and unloading of Lufthansa’s freighter aircraft, their joint cooperation bodes well for innovative cargo handling technologies.

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