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Going electric on the ground

Increasing climate change awareness has brought a sharper focus on the use of fossil fuels. Swissport is aware of its responsibility and is increasingly using eGSE instead of fossil-fuel powered vehicles.

The use of motorized Ground Support Equipment (GSE) is an important operational activity at Swissport. For years, we’ve been deploying electrically powered and hybrid GSE (eGSE) wherever possible. eGSE decreases toxic exhaust emissions and reduces our carbon footprint, and it also leads to significant fuel cost savings. Our goal is to increase this share to at least 50 percent by 2025. Below is some background information on three exemplary types of eGSE used at Swissport.
ramp handling

Battery-powered pushback tractors

Towbarless Aircraft Tractors are among the most impressive and powerful GSE at the world's airports and the largest among the so-called pushback vehicles. They push aircraft from their parking position to the taxiway. Given the power requirements to push the largest aircrafts, diesel engines are still being used, but the innovators are looking for alternatives. TLD was one of the first companies to recognize the potential of the battery and equipped its TPX-100 in the e-version with accumulators. The clean engine can avoid up to 8 tons of CO2 emissions per year which would result from a combustion engine.

air Cargo Handling

CARGO LIFTERS UNDER POWER

The workhorses of the air cargo industry on the ground are the high-loaders, main-deck loaders and other mobile platforms that can lift cargo containers and pallets into the bellies and tubes of passenger and cargo aircraft. In just a few minutes, lifters can transport over 100 tons of payload to the largest cargo aircraft. And here, too, electricity has started to replace diesel. A common model, the Champ 70, made by Trepel, can lift up to seven tons of freight to a height of 5.60 meters – in just 12 seconds. This allows it to easily reach the belly cargo holds of all passenger aircraft. The energy comes from a battery with a capacity of 37 kWh.

ramp handling

ground power units

If an airplane makes a stopover, its engines also take a break. In the meantime, the energy required for lighting, air conditioning and hydraulic systems is often supplied by a ground power unit. Most of these are still diesel gensets, which are standard equipment at many apron positions. But the future is electric here too – and this offers several advantages. For example, a battery-powered unit emits no greenhouse gases, makes no noise whatsoever and thus also improves the working climate for our employees. And within a few years, the minimal maintenance and significantly lower energy costs easily make up for the higher acquisition costs of battery-powered units.