Advantages of a Fixed Ground Power Supply System
Most people who frequent the airport or travel by air often do not consider what goes into preparing an aircraft for safe travel. This is because most of this happens before you arrive at the airport for your travel destination – it is mostly behind the scenes work that happens while an aircraft is on the ground. There are teams of people to thank for this as well as the tools and equipment that they employ to make air travel possible for us.
Aircraft require electric energy when they are on the ground. They need this electric power for different electronic components of the aircraft such as the lights or the air-conditioning. The only options for powering these parts of the aircraft are either through a built-in power supply (which must be recharged in some way) or through a ground support vehicle that supplies power from an external source. Many airports will have these kinds of energy systems installed into the structure of the airport so that these aircraft ground power supply systems can operate efficiently and with power.
One of the main reasons for using aircraft ground power supply systems is because of the relatively inefficient nature of auxiliary power units, or built-in power structures within the aircraft. Often times these APU’s have low-efficiency rates and can cause some loud noises and generate significant levels of emissions. This is why having aircraft ground power supply systems help because they can provide features like pre-conditioned air or large amounts of electric energy for the aircraft through efficient methods. These benefits are why so many airports today have aircraft ground power supply systems like Hobart Ground Support systems installed into the structure of the building as well as why standalone versions of ground power supplies are being developed. Let us take a look at some of the different types of aircraft ground power supplies and what benefits and drawbacks there are for some of these models.
The more traditional method of aircraft ground power supplies looks like a central provision tower at an airport. It is a large setup with a cooling tower at its heart. The cold air is transferred into pre-conditioned systems through the use of hoses. The hoses provide a connection between the aircraft and the pipes from the cooling tower that is responsible for housing the chilled air. The whole goal for having pre-conditioned systems is to require less machine power while the aircraft is flying. While a cooling tower may seem like a convoluted way to save energy, the electrical systems responsible for these functions are actually incredibly complex machines in terms of metering, conversion, and flexibility compared to other forms of power supplies.
The aircraft ground power supplies that are built into the structure of the airports are more complex and substantial units compared to their relatively smaller and more portable standalone power supplies. Many of these standalone versions, compatible with modern aircraft, are extremely portable in nature – some models can be moved around on wheels and stand no taller than typical generator units. They are often towed around the airport by other aircraft ground vehicles during the refueling process. Many of these parts are interchangeable and can be easily repaired if any malfunctions begin to occur. These mobile units can feature things like heavy duty casings, user-friendly interfaces, and easy-to-use input and output. Some models have energy-saving systems on them, and can actually be loaded onto the aircraft to function as an auxiliary unit. While this type of aircraft ground power supply is incredibly mobile and easy to use, they are not as energy efficient as other forms of power supplies, and they can have some of the same drawbacks as the auxiliary power units mentioned earlier.
Another form of aircraft ground power supplies are cable carrier systems. They look like a series of plugs and cables running from central power systems into the aircraft. The cables are heavy duty and designed to withstand natural elements as well as impact and damage. These systems are relatively simple and incredibly reliable. While they are not as mobile or towable as the portable units, they are relatively compact and can fold and unfold according to where the aircraft is positioned in its terminal dock. Many of these types of aircraft ground power supplies have interchangeable parts as well and are designed for quick modular part-switching.
Other than cables or carts the variations of aircraft ground power supplies include diesel-powered starters or smaller and more compact power sources on wheels. Amidst this variety of products is the question of which power supply is right for which situations? Some of the factors to consider when trying to select the right type of ground power supply for an aircraft could be fluctuations in load weight during flight as well as any limitations on output. Basically, you have to be aware of the primary function of the aircraft – is it a personal aircraft with only a few seats? Is it a small helicopter? Is it a passenger jet? Each of these crafts requires different attention. Selecting an aircraft ground power supply that is right for your aircraft can be as simple as defining your expectations of the aircraft. Some people are more concerned with comfort over efficiency, so it’s ultimately up to your desires to decide on how much power you may need. Some commonalities to consider are how easily the system can be repaired or maintained. This is equally as important as selecting a power supply that can provide the correct power calculations for your specific aircraft.
During today’s fast-paced lifestyle and the relatively easy ability to travel around the world, it is clear to see the need for updated technology for aircraft. Ironically, many of us are not aware of all of the technology and individuals responsible for making air travel possible. Hopefully, reading about some of the different types of ground power supplies for an aircraft has given you a deeper appreciation of the industry as well as maybe providing further assistance to invest into personal aircrafts and what is required for maintaining safe air travel.