Being green is not enough – initiatives must be visible to passengers to avoid charges of greenwashing
Managers at Frankfurt airport are not content with simply ‘greening’ the apron: they have decided to inform passengers at one of the busiest airports in the world of services that can largely be carried out with electric vehicles.
The E-PORT AN initiative covers electro-mobility projects at Frankfurt Airport (FRA). For a number of years, conventional diesel engine vehicles have been replaced by electrically powered vehicles. The federal government has recognised this initiative as a ‘Lighthouse’ (Leuchtturm) project. E-PORT AN is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructur.
At Lufthansa Gate A15, passengers can now find about the range of electric mobility projects at Germany’s largest airport. The ‘Green Gate’ presents those aircraft ground services which in the future can be largely carried out with electric vehicles. The partners involved present their activities using models, information panels and animations. Equipment includes solar-powered passenger airstairs, electric conveyor belt vehicles, hybrid aircraft tugs and electric pallet trucks.
As a first step E-PORT AN is consolidating the 20 or so different vehicles that are used to service an aircraft and integrating new electrically driven developments into the aircraft servicing process. Emissions and noise are reduced at the airport, improving both the environmental footprint and working conditions on the apron, says Dr Stefan Schulte, CEO of Fraport, who notes that the effect of the large-scale use of electric vehicles on the airport’s power grid is also being studied.
Schulte says: “In addition to the energy optimisation of the terminal, the use of electric vehicles at the airport is an essential starting point for us to reduce CO2 emissions. Electrically powered vehicles are principally ideal for use at airports with, as here is the case, short-haul traffic. This is especially true for special vehicles for aircraft servicing, such as towing vehicles, ground support equipment or pallet trucks. We want the proportion of special electric vehicles used here on-site to further increase.”
Millions of euros
Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure adds: “The use of electric vehicles in aircraft servicing and rolling and towing traffic can substantially reduce noise and emissions at airports. This protects the environment and the staff on the ground. As part of the Rhine-Main model electro-mobility region, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is funding the E-PORT AN project with a total of eight million euros. I am delighted that from today passengers on the spot can inform themselves about this ‘green ground service’. Simultaneously incentives for imitation are created, because the added value of electro-mobile aircraft servicing for the future is obvious.”
In October, Fraport expanded its fleet of electric-powered vehicles at the company’s home base with the addition of 10 more electric cars, as well as a prototype container-transport vehicle to be used in ground handling operations for carrying baggage to and from the aircraft.
The container-transport vehicle from Mulag is equipped with twin 80 volt lead-acid batteries serving as the power source for the vehicle’s two electric motors. The prototype has a load capacity of seven tons and can reach a top speed of 25km/hr. First reviews in day-to-day operations have already shown an energy saving of 80 percent versus a comparable diesel-powered vehicle – thereby reducing emissions on the apron and contributing to Fraport’s overall carbon-reduction efforts at FRA.
Powered by electric batteries only, the 10 passenger cars from Mitsubishi provide a maximum speed of 130km/hr and a range of 150 km. Fraport’s ground handling unit uses these cars for service performance of aircraft handling activities at Frankfurt Airport.