TLD: 2024 Product Leader of the Year

April 9, 2024
By using the POWER-409 and START-180 in tandem, TLD provides flexibility for ground power and air start needs without producing emissions on the ramp.

Across aviation, and within ground handling, there is a keen focus on more sustainable operations. In addition to adopting green technology, officials at TLD also had requests for flexibility with ground support equipment (GSE).

Using its Intelligent Battery Systems (iBS) technology to its advantage, TLD launched the POWER-409 electric ground power unit (eGPU), which can be used in tandem with the company’s START-180 electric air start unit.

The combination of the START-180 along with the POWER-409 provides high voltage DC output to allow for an electric air start up to 180 PPM at 40 PSIG, while simultaneously providing power to the aircraft. The START-180 can also be powered through the grid with a 400A 380-450 VAC power plug.

For the versatility the units provide while producing zero emissions, TLD has been named Ground Support Worldwide’s 2024 Product Leader of the Year.

The key to providing zero emissions ground power and air start capability is possible thanks to TLD’s iBS lithium battery packs, explains Jeff Barrett, executive vice president of sales and service at TLD America. He describes the iBS lithium battery packs as a “Lego-type building block” that allows TLD to electrify GSE – from baggage tractors and belt loaders to GPUs.

Designed primarily for narrow-body aircraft, regional jets and some military applications, the POWER-409 and START-180 could be deployed on the ramp as well as to the FBO and MRO markets.

“There's a big demand for the quiet applications of electric GPUs that consequently could use a START-180 with it,” Barrett says.

Combining the air start unit with an eGPU provides flexibility for ground personnel as an air start unit is not used at the same frequency as GPUs. But when an air start is required, a POWER-409 unit equipped with eight iBS battery packs can perform four jet starts with the START-180. Plus, an optional plug allows grid power to go directly to the START-180, if necessary.

“We think these two combinations here provide a great solution that is certainly reliable and easy to maintain and then cost effective over time with the return on investment,” Barrett says.

When designing the GPU and air start, Barrett says care was taken to keep the design as close to the diesel version as possible.

He notes customers are very focused on deploying equipment with the same footprint as previous equipment. While the footprint is the same, the POWER-409 is heavier than its diesel predecessors, so a tiller arm on the front is offered as an option to assist with the increased weight of the eGPU.

“All the other things that you would have in a traditional ground power unit, would be the same on the electric version,” he adds. “It’s basically very versatile to whatever the demand is.”


TLD launched the POWER-409 at the International GSE Expo in Las Vegas in 2023. Barrett describes the POWER-409 as the power pack that facilitates flexibility for ramp operations.

“You’ve got the capability to have all the batteries combined on the same chassis. You can provide power to the aircraft. You have an onboard charger that allows 80V charging to other GSE equipment,” he says. “So, it’s got a lot of different flexibility.

In addition to utilizing iBS battery technology, TLD officials also utilized the technology provided by sister-company AERO Specialties’ PV90-4 power distribution system.

“We took that power distribution technology that they had, and we put inside this GPU. So, it’s a really unique design and a really unique capability for us to go from 80V lithium battery pack to the 400Hz that’s required to provide power to the aircraft,” Barrett says.


According to Barrett, the START-180 uses the same compressor as the diesel version of the air start. The only difference is the source of energy, which in this case is a battery pack instead of a diesel engine.

“We’re not trying to recreate the wheel on this design. We’re basically just taking all the energy and power coming out of that iBS battery pack and being able to charge it with an electric motor,” Barrett says.

In addition to a more efficient design, Barrett notes an electric air start provides a solution that eliminates the need for diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).

The START-180 does not have onboard power storage. So, it is either powered by the POWER-409 GPU or the grid.

“If you're a hanger application and you want to pull that power off the grid itself, and connect it directly to the air start, you can do that,” Barrett says.

Another benefit according to Sebastien Fabre, site director at TLD, is customers with a large fleet of equipment have the ability to transfer equipment from location to another without being concerned about local emissions rules that can vary by station.

“As long as you have the POWER-409 or the grid, you can use it where you want,” Fabre says.

Additional Features

When working with electric GSE for the first time, there is always a keen interest in run-time and charging needs. These figures vary based on application. For example, Barrett says a POWER-409 with seven iBS battery packs can perform 10 turnarounds on Boeing 737 aircraft before needing to be recharged.

Charing times vary based on amp input. Low inputs may require several hours or overnight charging while higher capacity charger could complete a charge in as little as 90 minutes.

“It depends on the demand of what you can provide coming out of the infrastructure to be able provide the charging capability to get back to 100 percent,” Barrett says.

TLD products utilize LINK telemetry to assist with fleet management, GPS position, state-of-charge and equipment use, among others. A customizable dashboard uses widgets to make data easy for users to read and understand.

“LINK gives us the ability to do remote access troubleshooting with fault codes with management of the parameters,” Barrett explains. “We can see charge profiles and various other aspects of the machinery.”

“In the POWER-409, we have as well the battery temperature that will be monitored,” Fabre adds.

The POWER-409 and START-180 user interface is the same as other TLD equipment, allowing customers familiar with TLD products to use the new units seamlessly.

Initial customer input has been favorable, Barrett says, noting end-users appreciate the POWER-409’s ability to charge an 80V piece of eGSE in addition to supplying power to aircraft and the START-180.

“In the event you don’t have power – a storm comes through, and you don’t have power – you can still provide a solution without an energy source,” he points out.

Following its launch at the International GSE Expo, TLD is receiving regular orders for the POWER-409 while working with customers to finish validating the START-180 and putting it into full production.

“With these units, you can have a fully electric, fully autonomous POWER-409 and START-180 combined together to provide a dual solution for both GPU and air start with that single pack,” Barrett concludes.

About the Author

Josh Smith | Editor