Japan Airlines Introduces First Lithium-Ion Battery-Powered Ground Power Unit at Matsuyama Airport

May 20, 2024
Tamagawa Aero Systems and Japan Airlines have introduced a lithium-ion battery-powered ground power unit at Matsuyama Airport.

Tamagawa Aero Systems Co., Ltd. (TAS) and Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (JAL) introduced a lithium-ion battery-powered ground power unit (eGPU) at Matsuyama Airport on May 9. This marks JAL's first use of this technology, which is expected to reduce CO2 emissions and noise pollution.

Aircraft are equipped with an auxiliary power unit (APU), which can independently supply the necessary electricity and air conditioning while parked. However, the APU generates a significant amount of exhaust gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), and noise. To mitigate environmental impacts at airports and reduce aviation fuel consumption during parking, electric power and air conditioning have been supplied by diesel engine-powered ground power units (GPU).

By introducing the eGPU, CO2 emissions will be reduced to zero, and noise levels will be decreased by approximately 30% (below 65db) compared to traditional methods. This is expected to improve the working environment for operators, mitigate noise and environmental issues around airports, and contribute to the preservation of the global environment.

The eGPU, manufactured by ITW GSE, can supply electricity continuously for approximately 14 flights during the turnaround time of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft on a full charge and have been deployed in over 400 units worldwide.

JAL has been exploring the deployment of eGPU units at domestic airports as part of its efforts to promote CO2 emission reduction in airport facilities and vehicles, advocated by the Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Within the JAL Group, Japan Air Commuter (JAC) introduced the eGPU at seven airports (Tanegashima, Yakushima, Kikaijima, Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima, Okinoerabujima, Yoron) in March 2023, and Hokkaido Air System (HAC) started operations with the eGPU at three airports (Sapporo Okadama, Rishiri, Okushiri) in March 2024.

When considering the expansion of eGPU deployment at airports in Japan, the installation of charging infrastructure and securing AC power sources for use with jet aircraft were issues. However, at Matsuyama Airport, this issue was resolved by converting the power plugs used for snowplow vehicle heaters, leading to the introduction of the eGPU. This implementation is expected to pave the way for further deployments at other airports, leveraging the knowledge gained from this experience.

JAL and TAS are committed to contributing to global environmental preservation and to continuing efforts towards realizing a more sustainable aviation industry.