Taxibot, the pilot-controlled tow-tractor, has begun advanced testing at Châteauroux airport in central France as the system's developers attempt to secure a launch customer.
Israel Aerospace Industries, which is a partner in the project along with Airbus, Lufthansa and French ground-handling equipment manufacturer TLD Group, says that test results have so far exceeded expected performance levels.
IAI says that in the past few weeks "serious talks" have been conducted with potential customers. Orders are anticipated within the coming months, it adds.
Serial production of the narrowbody variant of the Taxibot is being initiated at TLD Group's Montlouis-sur-Loire factory, with a widebody version to follow around one year later.
Certification will be secured using a beta-model Taxibot in Frankfurt in conjunction with a Lufthansa Boeing 737. This will be followed by the operation of three systems at Frankfurt from mid-2013.