The Basics Of Preconditioned Air

Provding both power and air at a parking location can save energy and keep the APU ready for use when it’s really needed.


A central system uses AHUs placed close to the aircraft parking positions and feeds a glycol/water mixture pumped through the AHU coils to cool or heat the air that is blown through.

While a central system may require more time and money up front, the long-term benefits may make it a better option.

Hangar Installations: PC Air applications in hangars are starting to pick up again. Since APUs can’t be used indoors, crews typically work on aircraft in unconditioned hangers. The need to provide comfort, however, is becoming an important enough human factor to consider these systems.

Usually a few DX units are placed outside the hanger and then ducted into the hanger underground in what is normally called a trunk line. These systems can range from very basic to fully automated.

No Power: Mobile, diesel-driven PC Air units will provide the power when there’s no power.

While these units burn diesel fuel and are noise producers, they are far less noisy and fuel hungry compared to an APU. Many of these mobile units can also provide the required aircraft power. This will help conserve ramp space and use one engine generator.

In summary, PC Air is not required to cool or heat an aircraft, but it is required if you plan to take advantage of less APU usage.

Over the last nine years most operators have quantified the savings upgrading their parking positions with PC Air. Today, there are more options to consider.

PC Air systems have a normal useful life of 10 to 15 years. Payback on investment is often less than a year.

These systems can save a lot of money for operators who understand the cost differences in running power and air externally and shutting off the APUs.

Knowing what will work and understanding your options will make this investment successful.

About the author: Bryan Bullerdick has worked in the industry since 1993 and is a B-737 retired pilot and instructor. Bullerdick is the sales manager for the JBT AeroTech’s new JASE division with its core products in aircraft power and preconditioned air systems.

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