With a requirement to replace their aging existing diesel GPUs, in early 2016 Air Tahiti contacted UK manufacturer Powervamp for details on their unique 28V DC Coolspool battery powered GPU. It was agreed that the product was suitable for their ATR fleet and this led to a trial of Powervamp’s Coolspool rechargeable DC battery cart. Battery power was of interest to the airline as part of its ongoing environmental policy of reducing carbon emissions where possible.
At the request of Air Tahiti, Powervamp shipped at its expense, a Coolspool 410 battery cart for a free trial. The Battery cart arrived at Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, in July 2016. Two specialists from the UK flew to Papeete to demonstrate the battery powered GPU and to train Air Tahiti ground staff on its use.
The rechargeable battery cart offered a number of benefits to the airline over the existing GPU – it was silent, emitted zero exhaust fumes and required no maintenance or expensive diesel. It only needed to be recharged after use.
During the remaining months of 2016 the battery cart was extensively tested to see if it met Air Tahiti’s tough schedules. This period allowed the ground staff and flight crew to become familiar with the product and to understand its different features. For instance the number of turnarounds was limited before the cart had to be re-charged and charging took several hours. By contrast, their existing diesel GPUs would run continuously as long as they had fuel.
While Air Tahiti management saw the obvious benefits of operating ‘green’ battery powered ground power equipment, and ground crew and pilots welcomed the elimination of noise and fumes, it was felt by Air Tahiti’s-management that battery carts on their own were not the complete solution for the company. The was a concentration of departures from Papeete during the early morning every 15 minutes as tourists arriving from overnight long haul flights departed to the many idyllic islands within French Polynesia on Air Tahiti’s fleet of ATR72-600 turbo-prop aircraft.
In response to Air Tahit’s conerns about only using battery powered GPUs, Powervamp proposed a mix of GPUs with a combination of battery carts and their new diesel Coolspool Hybrid 300 GPU which was a combination of a small diesel engine and powerful batteries similar in concept to a hybrid car.
Powervamp were convinced that this combination of GPUs would give Air Tahiti the flexibility and performance they required at peak departure times.
With Air Tahiti keen to trial this new combination unit with its reduced CO2 emissions, Powervamp sent a trial Coolspool Hybrid 300 cart to Tahiti which, following a 2 month sea voyage, arrived at the airport on the 20th October and Powervamp again sent two specialists to supervise the unpacking and commissioning of the unit. It was put into operation later the same day and was an immediate success with ground crew and pilots who were impressed with its performance. The Coolspool Hybrid 300 GPU will remain on test until the end of January after which it will probably be shipped to Auckland or Hawaii where ATR operators, also using Powervamp battery carts, are interested in the Hybrid GPU.
Meanwhile, Powervamp is putting together a comprehensive proposal that will see a number of Coolspool 410 battery carts and Diesel Hybrid GPUs replacing Air Tahiti’s existing diesel units. This will deliver extensive savings in fuel, a big reduction in CO2 emissions and a major saving on maintenance costs as well as significant improvement in noise reduction for the benefit of the ground staff working around the aircraft.
Air Tahiti will be reviewing closely the performance of Powervamp’s Hybrid GPU during the 3 month evaluation trial and management will decide what action needs to be taken and whether the Powevamp Coolspool 300 Hybrid GPU offers the solution Air Tahiti are seeking.
For more details on all Powervamp ground power units, download our latest aviation brochure.