Narita International Airport enhances efficiency with driverless baggage handling

Written by TractEasy
Driverless baggage towing at Narita Airport Japan
Airport

Narita International Airport in Japan has deployed the EZTow in partnership with the Narita International Airport Corporation , Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The driverless vehicles have been transporting baggage between two stations, located in a terminal and its satellite, with only remote supervision. The airport has not required any infrastructure modifications to accommodate the trips.

The goal is to promote the use of AVs to improve productivity, allocating staff to where they are most needed on the ramp. The long-term goal for JAL is to focus the workforce on value-added work and increase the number of autonomous baggage tractors to handle repetitive tasks involving long-distance travel.

Advancing New Technological Solutions in Aviation

Common challenges faced by airports like Narita International include:

  • High labor costs
  • Shortages of drivers
  • Low profit margins
  • The necessity to stay abreast of technological advancements.

 

Key stakeholders in aviation must enhance the efficiency of baggage and cargo handling at major airports. By automating these processes, they not only streamline operations but also allocate more time for strategic decision-making, thus boosting overall efficiency.

Annually, around 5,000 luggage tractors are purchased by airports globally, with the largest hubs acquiring hundreds each year. The move towards electrification in this sector is accelerating, with an annual growth rate of approximately 15%. Given the expected rise in air travel and the construction of new airports and terminals over the next two decades, the adoption of TractEasy is essential for sustaining this growth.

Co-Innovation Addressing Crucial Needs

A trial, initiated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, involves deploying autonomous towing tractors in restricted airport zones. The increase in tourist arrivals in Japan and a projected 40 million visitors by 2020 highlight this need, especially as the country faces a declining workforce due to an aging population. To combat these challenges, Japan Airlines (JAL) and Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA) are keenly advancing the use of groundbreaking technologies to enhance productivity.

JAL is committed to conducting safe trials at Narita, an area known for its high congestion of planes, vehicles, and personnel.

Moving forward, JAL aims to rigorously test this equipment in various settings and continue its efforts to introduce innovative services through technological advancements.

Autonomous Towing in a Dynamic Airport Setting

This initiative showcases TractEasy’s ability to autonomously transport payloads between a main terminal and a satellite without needing any infrastructural changes.

Since early 2020, TractEasy has been actively engaged in a continuous operational role, managing inter-terminal transfers of oversized luggage under remote monitoring, with no need for an on-site driver.