An action towards "zero" CO2 emissions: Departure without aircraft push-back!


Aircraft engines are used not only during flight, but also during ground transportation from the apron to the runway. The ANA Group is also implementing initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions during ground transportation.

What is "pushback" that airplanes perform upon departure?

Generally, when an airplane is cleared for departure by the control tower, a towing tractor connected to the front legs (called nose landing gear) pushes the airplane backward to a place where it can safely begin to propel itself. This is called "pushback," and the pilot starts the engine during this process.

Depart from the apron without pushback, reducing CO2 emissions!

After pushback, the airplane will head for the runway on its own, but in order to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as much as possible, the ANA Group, with the cooperation of the Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, has started operations at some parts of the apron in Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), where the airplane can safely depart on its own without pushback. From this initiative, when departing from an open spot of the apron (an area away from the terminal) with no buildings or other obstacles around, it is now possible to depart on its own by moving forward without pushback.

  • * Similar operations are already in place at some airports.

Example of an airplane departing with pushback and an airplane departing from the apron without pushback

This is a short movie of an airplane departing with pushback and an airplane departing from the apron without pushback. (No audio)

0:01~0:06 The airplane is moved backwards by the towing tractor to a larger area of the apron where it can safely start its own flight. A subtitle appears, "Commonly, the airplane departs with pushback by a towing tractor."
0:06~0:20 The airplane is leaving the apron on its own without pushback. It also explains that pushback takes up a lot of space on the apron, which can interfere with the passage of other planes. A subtitle, "Reduce CO2 emissions by shortening self-propelled time!" is displayed on the screen.
0:20~0:30 ANA Future Promise logo appears.

In operation at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), the self-propelled time per flight has been reduced by about 30 seconds, enabling a reduction of about 93 tons of CO2 emissions per year. This is equivalent to the volume of about 93 25-meter swimming pools.

It's not just about reducing CO2 emissions! There are also benefits for the customers.

Self-propelled departure eliminates the need to detach the towing tractor from the airplane after pushback, thus reducing the time it occupies the taxiway and preventing from blocking the passage of other aircraft.
In addition, the time required for takeoff can be shortened by about 2 minutes and 30 seconds, which will help improve the on-time arrival rate of other airplanes.

Photo of the 70 service carts used in the aircraft.

Interview with the person in charge

Mr.Tanii from Operation Management & Planning ANA AIRPORT SERVICES CO., LTD

Why did you start considering it?

The apron that was coordinated this time was a hindrance to on-time operation, because if there was a congestion of departures with airplanes from another apron in the rear, one of the airplanes had to wait for departure. In order to improve on-time operation and make it more environmentally friendly, we have been working with the CAB(Civil Aviation Bureau) of the MLIT(Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) and were able to lead to the start of this no push-back operation.

What kind of verification did you conduct before implementation?

With the cooperation of the CAB of the MLIT, we confirmed the safety of the following three aspects, and were able to make a departure without pushback.

  1. To be able to secure a place for maintenance staff and airport ground support staff to wait.
  2. To ensure that there is sufficient distance between the wing tip of the airplane and the facilities, as the airplane will pass between existing facilities such as lighting towers.
  3. To ensure that the air discharged from the airplane engine, called jet blast, does not affect the surroundings.

Is it possible to do this on other apron?

Considering the facilities such as boarding bridges around the apron, the distance between the airplane's wing tip and the facilities, and the impact of jet blasts to the rear, there are only a limited number of aprons suitable for self-propelled departures.

For further reduction of CO2 emissions.

Since shortening ground travel time leads to CO2 reduction, we will continue to work with the CAB of the MLIT to investigate and coordinate aprons where self-propelled departures are feasible.

The ANA Group will continue to contribute to further reduction of CO2 emissions by proactively challenging new initiatives that are not bound by the traditional conventions.