About 10 percent of all ground support equipment is currently electric, and while the e-GSE share holds steadily across all types of ramp equipment, that share isn’t likely to go up dramatically without a guarantee of better battery performance or an increase in funding to purchase the equipment.
That’s what we learned after sending out a survey to a select group of Ground Support Worldwide readers last February.
Our reasons for conducting the survey were simple:
- To judge the current market for e-GSE,
- To see what future buying trends might be.
Our survey went out to a broad group of Ground Support Worldwide readers that included service providers, airlines, FBOs and airports. The majority (41 percent) were “ground handlers/service providers” and 82 percent indicated that they had direct or supervisory influence over purchasing new or used e-GSE.
Most of our respondents had less than $100,000 as their 2013 budget to buy new or used e-GSE, with the rest ranging from $101,000 to past $1 million. The majority of respondents (65 percent) indicated they were not able to spend all of their e-GSE budget last year either because of outright budget cuts or that the money might be carried over to this year.
Question: Taking your current total GSE inventory into account, what is the percentage represented by e-GSE?
10 percent or less 57 percent
Between 11-25 percent 23 percent
Between 26-50 percent 6 percent
Between 51-75 percent 6 percent
Between 76-100 percent 6 percent
We wanted to judge when some of the first e-GSE was purchased, and we heard from readers who said they may have seen their first piece of e-GSE at some point in the late-1980s.
For our part, we dug up a news story that indicated American Airlines was the first carrier in the United States to replace all its fossil-fueled equipment with electric models at the El Paso International Airport. The story was dated 2001, but said that the airline started the push for electric equipment in 1996 and gave priority to airports in cities with severe air quality issues deemed “serious” non-attainment designations by the EPA. (Such designations later became one of the main reasons the FAA started the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions Program in 2004.)
We chose to go back 20 years, since 20 years ago readers would have been paging through the second issue of GSE Today (the former name of our publication.)
Question: Has this overall percentage of e-GSE changed in the past 20 years?
Yes, by at least 10 percentage points. 32 percent
Yes, but by less than 10 percent points. 21 percent
No. The percentage has remained the same. 46 percent
We also asked about product categories for e-GSE and received a fairly steady, equivalent 10 percent use of electric equipment for cargo, belt loaders, pushbacks/tugs and other service vehicles.
Finally, we asked readers to rank the importance of the following attributes when it came time to deicing which brand of new or used e-GSE to purchase. (We’ve only listed the “most important” tallies for this question.)
Battery performance 78 percent
Reliability 78 percent
Support 61 percent
Price 59 percent
Maintenance 59 percent
Total cost of ownership 52 percent
Availability 43 percent
If by the “future” we just measure the rest of 2013, the buying power for equipment seems to be there. When asked about budgets, most of the respondents (57 percent) said they had either “the same as 2012” or “more than 2012” to spend on purchasing new or used e-GSE.
If by the “future” we mean the next 10 years, the results are a mixed blessing. Yes, readers do anticipate purchasing more e-GSE across all product categories, but those yes votes don’t reach much past the 50 percent mark, with the votes for “less” or “the same,” of course, filling out practically an equal share.
Battery capacity in the electric F110 pushback prototype unit was sufficient to run a two-shift operation at Stuttgart Airport.
It’s certainly a possibility as a number of companies are trying to do just that.