ITW GSE Sees Sustainability Push At Asian Airports


ITW GSE is pushing its gate-mounted electrical units and Nissan Leaf battery-powered GPUs as the answer to both sustainability targets and labor shortages.

Credit: ITW GSE

SINGAPORE—Ground power unit (GPU) supplier ITW GSE is pushing its gate-mounted electrical units and battery-powered GPUs as the answer to both sustainability targets and labor shortages.

Steven Ng, ITW GSE Asia Pacific director, reports increased Asian interest in GPUs, particularly from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam—all of which have new airport developments underway.

ITW GSE ceased production of its diesel-powered GPU in the 2023 first quarter, turning its focus to its battery-powered GPU and gate mounted preconditioned air unit (PCA).

ITW GSE contributed to the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport satellite terminal project, supplying 36 PCAs and 72 GPUs to the building.

“These fixed ground services cut carbon emissions, close to about 19,000 metric tons of CO2 emission annually,” Ng says. “With now no requirement for tractors to pull GPUs to the apron, it also increases ground safety and reduces manpower.”

ITW GSE now builds its GPUs with Nissan Leaf batteries, which Ng estimates can support 6-10 turnarounds per day on one charge. These batteries would then be charged up overnight when traffic is lighter, and airports do not need to increase electric capacity to support them. Electricity is also cheaper at night in many markets.

Ng notes that at Darwin International Airport, Australia, the GPUs are recharged using electricity from solar farms situated by the airport, resulting in a sustainable zero-emissions operation.   

Ng believes the continued development of electric vehicles and battery technology will in turn help drive down unit costs of GPUs, mentioning how the automobile industry has the scale to develop new energy technologies affordably. On hydrogen power, Ng believes there is still some way to go, and this will largely depend on an airport’s investment in hydrogen infrastructure and logistics and the feasibility of hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Moving ahead, Ng thinks there could be a demand for the pooling and leasing of ground support equipment (GSE) in Asia, as is common in Europe. Such services could help smaller ground handlers focus on operations by outsourcing GSE to lessors and service providers.

ITW GSE has around 90,000 GPU products globally, around 14,000 of which are in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.