Specialists in Automotive, Aviation & Emergency Power

In response to a challenge encountered by one of the world’s biggest low cost airlines to provide night-time ground power to its fleet of single aisle aircraft, where there was no power source, and night time noise curfew prohibited the use of diesel generators, UK-based specialist manufacturer Powervamp Ltd developed a true world first.

Powervamp’s PV20 Power Bank is a mobile rechargeable 115V AC battery-powered 400Hz ground power cart.

The airline’s problem arose when these heavily utilised aircraft needed their cabins cleaned during the night, ready for the following day’s first flight. At many airports around Europe, ramp space at night with electric ground power is expensive or not available. In such cases the aircraft are routinely parked remotely, usually at a point where there is no utility power meaning operators have to rely on expensive, noisy, diesel-driven ground power.

“The key challenge involved creating 115V AC 400Hz power from a high-voltage DC battery source, and delivering it to the very high standard required for aircraft avionics…”

A previously unsolved problem arises when last flights of the day land close to the time when an airport noise curfew, usually around 10pm is in operation. Noise curfews prohibit the use of any diesel-driven ground power, thereby depriving the aircraft operator of the necessary power source to operate the cabin lights and vacuum cleaners.

For many months, one major airline sought a solution to the problem. What was required was a silent, pollution-free aircraft electrical power source that could be positioned anywhere at the airport. This raised a fundamental question: was there in fact such a thing? And if not, was it possible to create a self-contained ground power unit capable of delivering the 115V AC 400Hz power that aircraft such as the Boeing 737-800, Airbus A319 and A320 required?

The low cost airline in question had researched suppliers throughout China, the United States and Europe, before finally contacting UK manufacturer Powervamp Ltd, a specialist in aviation products. Powervamp already offers a proven battery-based 28V DC ground power solution for regional jets andturboprops– its award winning Coolspool battery cart. However, the question put to Powervamp was whether the company could combine the technologies of its DC battery cart and its solid-state 115V AC 400Hz converters to produce a brand new product to solve this problem?

Although the key elements of the Coolspool carts and Powervamp’s solid state frequency converters were well proven and in current production, Powervamp’s design team, based at its Luton factory, needed to solve complex integration issues. The key challenge involved creating 115V AC 400Hz power from a high-voltage DC battery source, and delivering it to the very high standard required for aircraft avionics.

“Powervamp has demonstrated its design skills in producing a self-contained, towable battery-electric system that can deliver clean AC power…”

The successful prototype – the PV20 Power Bank – met the all the airlines stringent demands. As a minimum, the Power Bank had to deliver a 20kW or 10Kw output for at least three hours – providing the power to run the cabin lights and equipment needed for cleaning multiple aircraft in succession on a single charge.

The prototype unit, which was inspected by the airline at Luton, was transported to the their main maintenance base for extended tests. These demonstrated that the PV20 Power Bank was able to run the cabin lighting and provide power for up to six normal aircraft cleans or three deep cleans on a single charge – twice the airlines original requirement. The PV20 Power bank will deliver up to 20kW for a shorter period.

The PV20 uses an array of high-performance sealed lead acid batteries, installed together with a specially designed Powervamp converter, mounted on a chassis designed for towing by any suitable vehicle.

In typical use the PV20 is charged from a three-phase electrical supply during the day, then towed to each aircraft during the night.

“With the original prototype now more than three and a half years old and still in daily use, the huge savings in diesel costs, have given the airline outstanding advantages…”

With this product, Powervamp has demonstrated its design skills in producing a self-contained, towable battery-electric system that can deliver the clean AC power needed for running cabin lights and cleaning at least three medium-sized aircraft such as the Boeing 737, Airbus A319 in succession on a single charge.

Moreover, the Powervamp solution is silent and pollution-free in operation, incurs much lower running and maintenance costs than a diesel-powered generator, and is “greener” overall in its environmental impact.

With the original prototype now more than three and a half years old and still in daily use, the benefits in reduced CO2 emissions and lack of noise, combined with the huge savings in diesel costs, have given the airline outstanding advantages which include a much improved working environment for ground staff who do not suffer the continuous noise associated with a diesel GPU.

If you require any additional information on this true world first mobile rechargeable 115V AC battery-powered 400Hz ground power cart – please contact info@powervamp.com or call +44 (0) 1934 643000 and speak to our sales team.

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