Ground damage to aircraft costs airlines $5 billion yearly
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has made a case for transition to enhanced ground support equipment (Enhanced GSE), to improve safety and reduce damages to aircraft, estimated to cost $5 billion yearly.
According to IATA, Enhanced GSE uses anti-collision and inching technology, improves vehicle control, and increases docking accuracy, all of which minimises the risk of personnel injuries and damaging aircraft.
The call for transition is detailed in a newly published IATA study, which estimates that the yearly cost of ground damage could double to nearly $10 billion by 2035 unless preventive action is taken.
The cost of ground damage forecast is based on direct costs, (including labour and material costs, temporary leasing costs, logistical expenses, and administrative costs); and indirect costs lost revenue, crew and passenger repositioning costs, compensation costs for delayed services etc.
The study finds that most aircraft ground damage that occurs once the aircraft is stationary is caused by motorised GSE striking the fuselage of the aircraft.
The wide-body aircraft ground damage rate is 10 times higher than narrowbody aircraft, but regional jets, turboprop, and narrow-body aircraft are 30 per cent more prone to severe ground damage.
Belt-loaders, cargo-loaders, passenger stairs and passenger boarding bridges (PBB), also cause 40 per cent of total incidents.
According to IATA’s estimates, transitioning 75 per cent of the global fleet of belt-loaders, cargo-loaders, passenger stairs and PBB to Enhanced GSE, would reduce the current expected ground damage cost per turn rate by 42 per cent.
IATA Senior Vice President Operations, Safety and Security, Nick Careen, said transitioning to Enhanced GSE with anti-collision technology is a no-brainer.
“We have proven technology that can improve safety. And with the cost of ground damage growing across the industry, there is a clear business case supporting early adoption. The challenge now is to put together a roadmap so that all stakeholders are aligned on a transition plan,” Careen said.
Along with reducing the cost of ground damage, the transition to Enhanced GSE will also support the industry’s commitment to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 as most new equipment are electrically powered.
“Most Enhanced GSE is electrically powered, making it cleaner and more energy efficient. While the main focus of aviation’s decarbonisation efforts is on how we power aircraft, what happens on the ground cannot be ignored. The transition to Enhanced GSE will contribute to our industry’s top priorities of safety and sustainability,” Careen said.