The National Academies

ACRP 02-76 [Completed]

Optimizing the Use of Electric Pre-Conditioned Air (PCA) and Ground Power Systems at Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: HMMH
Principal Investigator: Katherine Preston
Effective Date: 7/6/2017
Completion Date: 1/5/2019

Airport-related emissions are an increasing global and local air quality concern as air travel increases and airports are challenged to reduce their environmental impacts. The increasing stringency of regulations and global climate protection initiatives require U.S. airports to implement clean technologies to reduce emissions. One means of reducing the emissions associated with aircraft auxiliary power units (APUs) and diesel ground power units is the use of electric pre-conditioned air (PCA) and electric ground power systems (collectively referred to as “gate electrification systems”).  
Through the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Program, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) encourages installation of this infrastructure at airports in EPA nonattainment areas to address air quality concerns such as ozone. Airports and airlines have supported these initiatives in light of the environmental, operational, economic and other social benefits associated with reduced run times of APUs.  Although these systems are installed at many airports, they may not be fully utilized.
The objective of this research is to provide guidance in identifying and understanding factors that contribute to the use or non-use of gate electrification systems (electric PCA and electric ground power systems) and ways that airports and airlines can optimize the use of the systems.
The guidance should include at a minimum:  
  • Case studies at a variety of types and sizes of airports in different climates;
  • An evaluation of how weather and climate impact utilization;
  • The use and impact of other available ground power and PCA units;
  • Consideration of aircraft hard stand operations;
  • Current and historic utilization rates based on airport and/or airline data;
  • Airport and airline procedures and actions for equipment utilization;
  • Utilization impacts, such as operating costs, maintenance demand and reliability, and local air quality related regulations, etc.
The research plan should include appropriate interim deliverables that will require ACRP approval, including at a minimum:  
  • A data collection and analysis plan;
  • Approach(es) to define metrics for the usage of gate electrification systems; and
  • An interim report that describes work done in early tasks with an updated work plan for remaining tasks, including a draft outline of the guidance document and a draft of one sample case study with graphical representation of findings to date.
The research plan should build in other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum: 
 A kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed;
  • One face-to-face interim report meeting to review the results of the interim report; and
  • Web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate. 
The final deliverables include:
1. The guidance document that meets the requirements as stated in the objective to include (a) a visual or graphical representation of the findings considered in utilization of the systems; (b) challenges leading to non-use of the systems; (c) case studies that demonstrate examples and benefits of effective utilization; (d) industry best practices for airports and airlines and other practical applications for the guidance; and
2. A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.
STATUS: HMMH has completed the research. The editorial process is underway.  

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