Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) was recently awarded a $1 million Voluntary Airport Low Emission Program (VALE) grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to install 13 Electric Ground Support Equipment (eGSE) Charging Stations in Terminal E and Cargo City.
This is in support of Southwest Airlines’ commitment to replace 24 petroleum-based ground support equipment (GSE), of which 12 will be electric baggage tugs and 12 will be electric belt loaders, with eGSE. The installation of electric chargers and the conversion to eGSE by Southwest, which will happen over the next three years, will reduce emissions of ozone precursors (NOx and VOCs) by approximately 48.8 tons and emissions of fine particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 microns or less (PM2.5) by 3.9 tons over the 13-year useful life of the electric chargers. These emission reductions will assist the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Philadelphia Counties, and the City of Philadelphia in meeting their air quality objectives.
“In addition to the environmental benefits, this project will also benefit the health and safety of airport employees by reducing air pollutants on the airfield ramp and within baggage handling areas where ground support equipment are used daily. The airlines also save on operating costs through reduced fuel use,” said Danielle Buehler, DOA’s Sustainability Program Manager.
The FAA’s Voluntary Airport Low Emission Program, created in 2004, “improves airport air quality and provides air quality credits for future airport development and helps airport sponsors meet their state-related air quality responsibilities under the Clean Air Act.” Likewise, through VALE, airport sponsors can use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds and Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) to finance low emission vehicles, refueling and recharging stations, gate electrification, and other airport air quality improvements.
VALE grants are expected to reduce ozone emissions by 1,302 tons per year for the next five years. This is equivalent to removing 72,704 cars and trucks off the road each year.
Additionally, United Airlines received $319,987 as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Driving PA Forward grant program. The grant funding will be used to improve air quality and reduce emissions from mobile sources by removing older, diesel-powered airport ground support equipment - cargo loaders and equipment tugs - from service and replacing them with all-electric airport ground support equipment. In total, the project will replace seven pieces of diesel-powered GSE.
“We must continue to adapt and innovate considering our impact on the environment and the changing climate conditions; this is critical for long-term sustainability,” said Pennsylvania State Representative Maria Donatucci in a press release.