Switch On Power
The words"electri" and"refuele" aren't normally used together, but the GSE industry may be seeing them and other converted vehicles on airport ramps in the future reports Michelle Garetson
By Michelle Garetson
An electric refueler? Sounds like a one-time use item, doesn't it? Well, FMI Truck Sales & Service of Portland, Oregon and Bosserman Aviation Equipment Inc. of Carey, Ohio have turned some heads with their joint venture in the development and manufacture of such a vehicle. While the "electrification" of ground support equipment is not new, there have been newer developments in this technology and ground support personnel should not be surprised to see "plug-in" versions of various ramp vehicles.
GSE Today caught up with Don Emerson, president of FMI Trucks Sales & Service and Terry Bosserman, president of Bosserman Aviation Equipment, to discuss the details at the recent National Business Aviation Association's convention in New Orleans, Louisiana where their electric refueler was on display.
LEARNING THE ROPES
"My endeavors with this really started at the GSE Expo the year before last," explains Emerson, "at a forum on electric ground support equipment, alternative fuel, and why the industry was going to where it was going. They had people from four airlines, plus someone from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and she talked about the mandates that were coming down."
Left - The 96 vold drive motor as it sits in the truck with transmission bell house adapter. Photo courtesy of FMI and Bosserman.
He continues, "With the California Air Resources Board presentation, someone asked, 'Look, are we just fooling ourselves with this whole electric thing? The reality is that there's a plant down the road burning coal to make electricity to run this vehicle.' She responded that in the GSE area, there is a great number of vehicles out there that are very old. And some of them still have old, flat-head motors in them. So, not only are they gas or diesel, they're beyond efficient. Her point was that the California Air Resources Board works very hard to monitor the pollution that comes out of that coal-burning plant and it's very easy to make sure that it's burning efficiently and there's a minimal amount of pollution. Given that these GSE motors were never highway compliant, they're all motors that never met any kind of emissions standards. It's impossible for CARB to monitor thousands of pieces of ground support equipment."
"Delta Airlines came to me almost four years ago and said, 'Terry, we're not happy with our hydrant servicers from the standpoint of maintenance costs and collisions with airplanes,'" says Bosserman.
WANTED: CREATURE COMFORTS
With this request, Bosserman developed a very low silhouette hydrant servicer that was battery-driven. It was built from a chassis from Lift-A-Loft, but it wasn't a chassis per se, it was just a running gear that was battery-powered and went about 5 mph.
The 750-gallon, electric refueler on display at NBAA. Photo courtesy of FMI and Bosserman.
"There were no anemities for the driver," says Bosserman. "First thing, the drivers that were used to the comfort of a cab — having heat, having the means to get out of the rain and snow — they didn't like it."
Complaints ranged from the new necessity of needing transportation out to this vehicle, it could only service limited number of airplanes because it only went 5 mph, no place to write up paperwork, and there's no protection from the weather.
By John Boyce , Contributing Editor Refueler manufacturers are as puzzled as FBOs, airports, and other interested parties by the EPA's apparent insistence that fuel delivery vehicles are...