Powervamp Birmingham Airport Logo

In support of the Airbus A380 service to and from Dubai that was introduced by Emirates this spring, Birmingham Airport has taken delivery of a combined ground power and cable-carrying system from a single UK supplier, Powervamp Ltd.

The equipment includes a set of four Powervamp PV90-3 frequency converters, plus Powervamp’s Sidewinder ground power transfer system. The equipment has been installed on stand 54, which has been specially refurbished and re-equipped to serve the world’s largest passenger aircraft – the A380.


In nearly every case, aircraft need externally-provided electrical power when on the ground to avoid the cost of wear to their engines and fuel burn, which creates noise and pollution within airports.

Powervamp is a world leader in aviation ground power. Its range includes the ground breaking Coolspool battery-powered range and the PV range of mains-powered 400Hz frequency converters.

“…four Powervamp PV90-3 converters have been positioned together at the stand…”

Because the 615-seat A380 is such a large aircraft, its total on-board electrical load is divided into four separate inputs. This enables the power to be delivered through sensibly-sized special plugs connecting four individual 90Kva ground power converters.

To meet this requirement at Birmingham Airport, the four Powervamp PV90-3 converters have been positioned together at the stand. They take their power from a 440-volt three-phase mains supply and convert it to a 115-volt 400Hz AC power output.

Powervamp 400hz Emirates A380

The PV90-3 provides prolonged power output with low harmonic distortion, making it especially suitable for sensitive aircraft avionics, and includes safety features such as automatic line-drop compensation. Its cabinet is built to the IP65 dust and water ingress protection standard for weatherproof outdoor use.

“…Powervamp’s “snaking” Sidewinder has introduced new robustness and functionality to the cable carrier concept.”

Powervamp’s Sidewinder, an extending concertina-style cable carrier, makes an ideal complement to the PV90-3 converters.

The version supplied to Birmingham is specially designed to accommodate four separate cables, one from each frequency converter, and at the aircraft end is equipped with a “basket” containing the four individual quick-release outputs. Versions of the Sidewinder are available for one, two or four cables.

Powervamp’s “snaking” Sidewinder has introduced new robustness and functionality to the cable carrier concept.

Its low rolling-resistance castor wheels enable it to glide smoothly when extended or retracted, and the drag-link chain pivots between beams allow smooth, snag-free expansion and contraction and easy access for maintenance. Numerous functional and safety features are built into the integral switching system.

Powervamp Sidewinder cable carrier A380

Sidewinders are already in service at various airports including Heathrow and Bristol, which allowed the Birmingham Airport team the opportunity to examine a working example before placing the order with Powervamp.

“…We were attracted by the opportunity to buy the frequency converters and cable carrier from a UK manufacturer…”

The new order for PV90-3 frequency converters follows previous orders from Birmingham, which already operates ten similar Powervamp converters on an individual basis on other stands.

According to Chris Daly, Airport Engineer at Birmingham Airport, “We were attracted by the opportunity to buy the frequency converters and cable carrier from a UK manufacturer as an integrated package, backed up by a proven product that has been designed and built and is supported and serviced by a single UK company.”

Powervamp Sidewinder cable carrier A380

Powervamp chairman Richard Roller echoes this analysis. “Our package offers the best option for reducing whole-life cost. The PV90-3 frequency converter is reliable and robust, and the Sidewinder is easy to use and reduces long-term maintenance. Best of all, as both designer and manufacturer, we can provide backup and support for the converters and the Sidewinder from a single source.”

Powervamp will be exhibiting at The British-Irish Airports Expo on stand E15, The Pavillion, NEC on 8th-9th June.  

On display will be the PV90-3 and the Coolspool 410 as well as the latest promotional video showcasing the products in use at Birmingham, London City, Gibraltar and London Heathrow airports.  

For more details on our airport products, or to arrange an appointment at the exhibition,

please call +44 (0)1934 643000.

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