The Financial Impact of Switching to Electric Ground Support Equipment

More airports and airlines are going electric than ever before. The environmental benefits of electric equipment may play a large part in this development, but the switch to electric ground support equipment (GSE) is often made for a variety of reasons.

The financial impact of utilizing electric equipment is more appealing than it has ever been in the past. In fact, owning electric ground support equipment can even offer competitive financial benefits.

Overall Costs of Ownership

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When it comes to the cost of ownership of electric GSE, there are various factors that can influence your upfront and operating expenses. Even the way that you deploy your equipment can change the total costs of ownership.

To develop a complete financial analysis, you’ll need to account for your usage expenses and the current setup of the facility that the electric GSE will be used in.

While it can be difficult to fully comprehend the costs associated with a switch to electric GSE, once one piece of electric equipment has been added to your roster, it becomes easier to evaluate the expected costs associated with additional electric GSE based on your usage requirements.

Upfront Costs of Electric Ground Support Equipment

The upfront cost of electric GSE is about 30 to 35% more expensive than its gas counterparts. While that may sound daunting, electric equipment is often an investment in future savings, as we’ll explore below.

A big part of this upfront cost comes from the fact that airports often already have the infrastructure in place for gas delivery, but don’t already have charging stations. Thus, new charging stations will need to be installed at a cost.

A facility also needs to be able to supply enough power to charge its equipment. There are a few solutions to power supply issues, depending on the needs of the property in question.

While the upfront costs of building infrastructure and supplying electricity may sound prohibitive, when other financial factors are taken into account, the value of electric GSE can be seen in greater detail.

Offsetting Upfront Costs

Many different agencies have provided grants to facilities all over the country to incentivize the switch to electric GSE.

In 2021, the Federal Government has awarded more than $300 million to facilities to switch to electric GSE. This funding has been used to acquire a wide range of equipment, install charging stations, develop more efficient electric usage programs, and much more.

Ground support providers that use electric GSE benefit from these grants in many ways. They can cut upfront costs, fueling/charging expenses, and implementation investments. This allows providers to fully enjoy the financial benefits of their new equipment.

Operating Costs of Electric Ground Support Equipment

aircraft tug repair

The operating costs of electric GSE will vary significantly based on the function of the equipment. The most common recurring costs for electric GSE are maintenance, charging, and training expenses.

GSE Maintenance

Electric equipment runs very differently than gas equipment. Because of this, the cost of maintenance is calculated differently, as well.

There are a few reasons why maintenance on electric GSE can come at a lower cost. These include:

  • Simpler internal components
  • Cleaner operation
  • Less frequent service required
  • Less frequent replacement of parts required

It’s a good idea to perform regular maintenance on your electric GSE just as you do for your gas-powered GSE. The better condition electric ground support equipment is kept in, the longer the equipment will stay functional.

Professional maintenance is key to improving the financial impact of switching to electric equipment.

Charging vs. Fueling

The cost of fuel for gas ground support equipment can vary in extreme ways, sometimes by as much as 300% within a year. This makes the cost of operating gas equipment hard to pin down.

The changes in fuel cost are undesirable because the aviation industry relies on accurate cost assessments. When evaluating the cost of fuel for GSE, you’ll need to consider:

  • The current cost of gas
  • The efficiency of specific gas equipment
  • The cost of emissions (considered for taxes and certifications)
  • The waste produced from idle gas equipment

Costs are much more stable for electric GSE. They include:

  • The cost of electricity
  • The efficiency of specific electric equipment over time

Overall, the cost of charging electric equipment is cheaper than fueling gas equipment for many functions of GSE.

Even when factoring in the upfront cost of the batteries, electric equipment has the potential to cut fuel costs by more than half for many facilities.

Employee Training

Operating gas GSE requires a specific license. This licensing alone can cost thousands of dollars. Specific protocols may be required to use these licenses in a commercial setting, as well.

Traditionally, GSE operators undergo complex training funded by their employers. This training can get expensive when the equipment requires serious technical skills.

Many electric GSE options are easier to operate. The vehicles move more smoothly and have more user-friendly controls. While these tools are advanced, they may require less intensive training than their gas-powered counterparts.

Additionally, some electric equipment is controlled remotely, eliminating the need for operators to hold special licenses and cutting down on the number of crew members needed to perform tasks.

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TowFLEXX Distributor & Service Center

Learn more about how TowFLEXX’s remote-controlled electric GSE can revolutionize how you store aircraft.

The Final Financial Impact

Upfront costs of switching to electric ground support equipment will vary but are higher than gas equipment costs. If infrastructure needs to be added to the airport, these upfront costs will increase.

However, maintenance, charging, and training costs will make a larger impact on your budget over time. The cost of electric ground support equipment decreases in comparison to gas options when these recurrent costs are factored in. The longer the equipment is properly performing, the more savings there are to gain.

Switching to electric GSE will have the best financial impact when planning and implementation are done properly. In many cases, a retrofit plan and slow integration is a good strategy.

FlyTek GSE

FlyTek GSE works with a large number of trusted GSE brands, including TowFLEXX, for which we are the exclusive distributor in North America, to provide reliable new, used, and refurbished equipment for aviation facilities.

We also provide scheduled, preventative maintenance to keep your equipment in proper working order for longer. And if your equipment breaks down, we can repair it.

Reach out to our team today for more information on how we can make electric ground support equipment work for you.