Infrastructure Needs for Airside Equipment Electrification

June 1, 2023
What do you need to consider when pursuing an airside electrification plan?
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The aviation industry is making significant strides towards reducing its environmental impact. One critical aspect of this effort is the electrification of airside equipment, including ground support vehicles, baggage handling systems and aircraft tugs.

Electrifying this equipment not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution but also improves operational efficiency and lowers operating costs. However, to fully embrace electrification, airports must address certain infrastructure needs and implement comprehensive plans.

Here are some of the basic infrastructure requirements and plans necessary for the successful electrification of airside equipment.

Power Infrastructure Upgrades

Electrifying airside equipment requires robust power infrastructure to supply the necessary electricity. Airports need to assess and upgrade their electrical distribution systems to accommodate the increased demand for power. This may involve expanding capacity, installing additional transformers and upgrading power distribution networks. Conducting a thorough power assessment and collaborating with energy providers can ensure that airports have the required electrical capacity to support the electrification of airside equipment.

Charging Infrastructure Deployment

Airports need to establish a comprehensive charging infrastructure. This includes installing charging stations strategically throughout the airside areas, such as aircraft parking positions, maintenance areas and baggage handling facilities. Fast-charging stations capable of providing a quick charge during short turnaround times may be necessary for efficient operations. Implementing smart charging systems that optimize energy usage and load management can further enhance the effectiveness of the charging infrastructure.

Grid Integration and Energy Management

Airports should consider implementing advanced energy management systems to optimize the use of electricity and ensure the smooth integration of electrified airside equipment. These systems can monitor power usage, manage charging cycles and balance energy distribution. Integration with the electrical grid and the use of smart grid technologies allow airports to benefit from renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power. This integration ensures a greener energy supply and reduces the overall environmental impact of electrification.

Training and Support for Maintenance

Airports should provide comprehensive training programs for maintenance personnel, covering topics such as electrical safety, equipment maintenance and diagnostics. Establishing partnerships with equipment manufacturers and energy providers can offer ongoing technical support, ensuring the smooth operation and maintenance of electrified airside equipment.

Collaboration with Stakeholders

Successful electrification of airside equipment requires collaboration among multiple stakeholders, including airport authorities, airlines, ground handlers and equipment suppliers. Airports should actively engage with these stakeholders to develop a common electrification roadmap and ensure that everyone is aligned with the goals and requirements of the project. Collaborative efforts can facilitate the sharing of knowledge, experiences and best practices, creating a supportive ecosystem for electrification initiatives.

Phased Implementation and Pilot Programs

Airports should consider a phased implementation approach to manage the transition to electric. Conducting pilot programs allows for testing and validation of electrified equipment in specific areas before full-scale deployment. Pilots help identify potential challenges, refine operational procedures and gather data on performance, cost savings and environmental benefits. Airports can sue this information and fine-tune their electrification plans and ensure a smoother transition across the entire airside environment.