The National Academies

ACRP 02-76 [Final]

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

ACRP Research Report 207 provides 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.
As demand for air travel grows, airport-related emissions are increasing and airports are challenged to reduce associated environmental impacts. In response, expanded regulatory programs and global climate protection initiatives are being developed which require the aviation industry, including U.S. airports, to implement new, clean technologies and modify operational practices to reduce emissions. One effective option for reducing the emissions associated with aircraft auxiliary power units (APUs) and diesel powered gate equipment is to convert to 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) enables airports located in areas that do not meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality standards to meet their air quality responsibilities under the Clean Air Act.  The VALE program reduces air emissions thru projects like gate electrification at airports located in areas designated as “non-attainment” or “maintenance” to address air quality concerns from criteria pollutants such as ozone or PM 2.5.  Many 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, and airlines interviewed for this project have implemented strategic initiatives to maximize equipment utilization, gate electrification systems may not be fully utilized for a variety of reasons.
This research, led by HMMH in association with James M. Crites, LLC and Barrett Energy Resources Group, LLC, includes: 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; and airport and airline practices for optimal equipment utilization. Stakeholders consulted during the course of the project include airports, airlines, pilots, equipment manufacturers, service providers and industry associations, and outreach took the form of in-person focus groups, meetings, telephone interviews and online surveys. The guidebook also includes a self-assessment checklist and basic utilization tracking methodology, available on www.trb.org/ACRP to provide industry stakeholders with a simple approach to obtain this information in the future.

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