Cygnus Aviation Expo 2012 Report

April 20, 2012
New products, directions, people and leaders on display at this year’s show.

Our recent Cygnus Aviation Expo, March 7-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center was my first trip to the trade show. Here's a rundown of some of what we saw, heard and learned:


I hear there are no new products for the GSE industry. But how about "relatively new" products? I had a list, for example, of almost 20 exhibitors that had something new – regardless of whether it was brand-new or a new twist on the tried-and-true. Considering we had 200 exhibitors, that's 10 percent right there. About a third of the exhibitors also sported a "New Exhibitor" decal in front of their booths. In other words, there was something new to see at 40 percent of the booths.

For brand-new, the first thing that comes to mind is the biggest thing that comes to mind. Genie Industries brought its new GS-2646 AV scissor lift to the show – both at its booth inside and outside at the Demos-On-Demand.

The new lift offers a working height of 32 feet and a lift capacity of 900 pounds. An optional extension deck provides an extra reach of 5 feet. Padded cushions not only protect the user, but the aircraft, too. The new SmartLink control system provides onboard diagnostics either remotely or while connected to a laptop.

As for a new twist, MCM Engineering's 270 VDC aircraft cable features the same high-quality molded connector as its 400 Hz cables. The nose has individual replaceable, easy-insert power and control contacts and a durable yellow cover.

Here are some other product highlights:

  • Affordable Fuel Injection Inc.'s Drive By Wire is now available for the Ford 300 engine. The company upgraded its Gen II fuel injection system, which eliminates the velocity governor that will no longer be produced. Units are available for deicers; heat carts; belt loaders and Tugs that require specific or limited RPM range operation.
  • Conney Safety Products LLC's WingWalker is a wireless collision avoidance safety system that prevents accidents during pushback by providing advanced warning to Tug operators. The product's safety management system easily works with existing business practices.
  • Corvus Energy displayed its CorPower lithium electric conversion kits for gasoline and diesel GSE. GSE powered with CorPower requires no maintenance, comes with 24/7 support, remote diagnostics and features an eight-year/20,000-hour battery warranty. (The company also had a booth outside, and we got a chance to get behind the wheel of one of retrofitted Tugs. We'll post this at
  • FCX Systems formally unveiled its FCXtreme 400, billed as the next generation of 400Hz ground power systems. A new feature allows for Wi-Fi access through any enabled device such as a smart phone or tablet. That means easy diagnostics from virtually anywhere and has the potential to wirelessly integrate building and ramp management systems. (We also had the opportunity to interview executives at the booth for a special video report. We'll post the video online at
  • Harlan Global Manufacturing, LLC unveiled the first USA-built and assembled Kocoverk heater. Since 2007 Harlan has sold and serviced many of the Swedish-built heaters. For the first time Harlan also displayed the HBLE Express all-electric beltloader. The beltloader uses many of the same components as the company's Charger HLE series bag/cargo/pushback tractor. Harlan also discussed it recent partneriship with KMT of Sweden to offer the KMT mobile tracking and monitoring system.
  • JBT Corporation AeroTech, Jetway Systems started a new division last April called Jetway Aircraft Support Equipment. The company brought a few products that were so new they hadn't even been seen at trade shows before ours. The Jetpower II Plus 400Hz/270 VDC Combo Ground Power System provides power from a single unit for legacy military fighter jets as well as the new generation squadrons. JBT's first diesel-powered GPU, the JetPower D90 features a completely new European design for this market. The Jetaire HPCX is designed for extreme climates and features a high-pressure PCA system that can cool any fighter aircraft's aviation compartment in temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Rampmaster's Engine Management System features an engine-controlled pump module that reduces engine rpm, which saves fuel and emissions. The exhibitor featured an array of equipment that's essentially replaced by electronic components. The company says the system will cut fuel use by up to 40 percent – about $8,700 a year – and reduce engine wear by 46 percent.
  • Velcon Filters LLC displayed its Sump Recovery System that allows sumped fuel to be sampled, cleaned and reused. The SRS-04DFS unit can be mounted in a stationary location or mounted on a trailer. After appropriate fuel testing, the fuel into an auxiliary tank, then filtered and reused at the next filter sump test.
  • Vortron Industrial introduced its new VT-140 centrifugal compressor for high-performance aircraft deice/anti-ice GSE applications where additional airflow and extended air jet reach are required. The VT-140 attains 140 pound-per-minute airflow at 1.9 pressure ratio and 81 percent efficiency, 5-15 psi and 2,200-plus cfm airflow.


We held two GSE seminars at the show that both focused on possible new directions the industry may take in electric equipment.

Our first seminar discussed alternatives to traditional rechargeable lead-acid batteries. Corvus Energy's CEO Brent Perry, discussed lithium power and laid out his case for electric GSE powered with such a source. Brad Compton, vice president of sales and marketing for TUG Technologies, shared a manufacturer's perspective on electric and other green GSE possibilities such as retrofitting traditional combustion engines with Tier IV engines.

Our second session focused on what might be in store for the next generation of rechargeable batteries. Todd Allen, president, Allen Energy, has been providing batteries and chargers for GSE since 1993. He also shared some "best practices," from the companies he's worked with that have made the transition from diesel power to electric power more productive.

Meanwhile, our sister publication, Airport Business, and colleague Brad McAllister held a well-attended seminar on social media. Panelists included Jetwhine blogger Robert Mark; Cutter Aviation's Ryan Keough; and aviation business marketing consultant Paula Williams. Key points included the importance of finding a company "ambassador" to head digital communications strategies for aviation businesses; and the value of using social media as another channel of communication with customers.


We think the best part of any trade show is meeting plenty of new people as well. While I didn't spend much time at our booth, when I was there I met a recent MBA grad from MIT who was testing prototypes of new collision avoidance system (go to for more) and a former investment banker planning a new career by selling LED lights for the aviation industry (go to for more).

During lunch, I just ended up sitting next to an attendee who was developing a solar-powered baggage cart that would be easier to push and pull on the ramp.

And with literally 15 minutes to go before the show ended, we enjoyed meeting Gayl Tibbs, Western regional manager for David Clark Company, Inc. who filled us in on the interesting beginnings of the company, as well as its "sideline" business making the space suits for NASA's missions (go to for more).


We officially recognized this year's Ground Support Leaders of the Year at our packed Attendee and Networking Party at the end of our second day.

This issue's cover story is on our Product Leader, Flightcom for developing a hands-free, wireless system for ground support communications. The wireless system increases team coordination and enables verbal warnings that all members can hear during a pushback. As a result, the system decreases the risks and costs associated with ramp accidents – and that has the potential to improve turn times, reduce fuel cost and increase the likelihood of hitting flight slots.

Here are our other two winners, which we will feature in our May and June/July issues:

  • Lifetime Achievement: William "Bill" Jacob with the United Parcel Service Inc. This award recognizes a person who has demonstrated commitment to the industry through numerous years of dedicated service. Jacob has more than 40 years of GSE experience with Eastern Airlines and UPS. Jacob, vice president of the UPS Ground Support Division, is directly responsible for almost 32,000 pieces of powered and nonpowered GSE.
  • Team Leader: Chief Warrant Officer Gregory McDermott with the United States Coast Guard. This award recognizes an individual who has taken a leadership role with personnel. McDermott leads an aviation ground support team with a budget of $12 million at the Coast Guard's only Aviation Logistics Center. McDermott's work supports 26 Coast Guard air stations through the United States and Puerto Rico. (By the way, U.S. Coast Guard team placed first in the Military category during the AMTSociety Maintenance Skills Competition, and also achieved the overall fastest score among all 27 teams that competed this year, for which they received the William F. "Bill" O'Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance.)
About the Author

Steve Smith | Editor