As we know aircrafts have to turn on their engines to taxi the entire way to the runway, if pushback tugs are used, it would save a lot of ATF and overall costs.

Is there any specific regulation by the FAA preventing the pushback tugs from taking the aircraft to the runway, rather than the taxiway?

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  • $\begingroup$ Let's not forget that the tugs don't move for free. They likely burn less fuel than an aircraft engine, but they're not fuel-free. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Sep 10 '18 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Someone did point out here (it might have been in a comment, as I can't seem to find it quickly) that the long, nice warm-up period of taxiing to the runway was very healthy for the engines, and when one airline tried single-engine taxi, maintenance costs on the other engine (the one not used during taxi) took to the skies. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 10 '18 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ It will congest the taxiway system when the tug has to back-taxi to the gate to get the next aircraft, so any fuel savings will be eaten up by time costs. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Sep 10 '18 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ Addendum to my previous comment: Anilv's answer to Why not tow aircraft instead of single-engine taxi? mentions the issue of engine warmup. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 10 '18 at 14:08

Way slower, more congested, more damage risk, many more expensive tugs required. Taxiing under power is much faster and safer than towing in general (towing is a high risk operation and all sorts of bad things happen when tugs move large aircraft). It would be a mess on a taxiway with a line up waiting to take off with trucks and personnel mingling with ready to fly jets. Generally, when you are flying you want the towing unit disconnected and gone ASAP.

The only reason you have tugs at gates in the first place is because of the need to back up; they're just there for the pushback. If someone designed a gate with a pass through design that didn't require backing up and allowed for at at least one engine running, you wouldn't have tugs there at all.

  • $\begingroup$ 'It would be a mess on a taxiway with a line up waiting to take off with trucks and personnel mingling with ready to fly jets' - I think you should expand on, and highlight this point as it's super key. Can you imagine organising the removal of towing equipment at the Threshold or hold! $\endgroup$ – Dan Sep 10 '18 at 15:48

In the US, there is no regulation on the use of tugs for moving aircraft. Runway/taxiway environment might get a bit congested at the busier airports.


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