While many people think of aircraft as the primary users of fuel at an airport, there are actually hundreds to thousands of vehicles driving all around the ramp fulfilling important functions as planes prepare for take-off and landing, such as transporting and loading bags from the terminal to the aircraft, pushing back aircraft, catering, and more. Conventionally, these vehicles are gasoline and diesel-powered.
As part of a new sustainability project at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, JetBlue converted the 2 most commonly used ground support vehicle types – bag tractors and belt loaders – to plug-in electric vehicles (‘eGSE’). Through this large-scale conversion, they are introducing 118 electric vehicles which makes it the largest fleet of electric vehicles of any carrier at JFK and comprises 40% of their full GSE fleet at JFK.
This project has been years in the making, with partnerships across multiple entities. In 2017, JetBlue partnered with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to secure a $4M grant from FAA (Voluntary Airport Low Emissions Program, VALE) to help support the purchase and installation of 38 electric vehicle charging hubs all around the terminal. For implementation, New York Power Authority entered as another partner to help manage the construction process.
eGSE is truly a win-win-win; it’s good for the environment and crewmembers. Immediate gains from this conversion include zero tailpipe emissions which will reduce carbon monoxide, ozone precursors and particulate matter. JetBlue expects to reduce ground fuel usage by approximately 200,000 gallons of ground fuel a year, which equates to four million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions avoided (1,700 metric tons) and more than $500,000 in-ground fuel savings annually.
Crewmembers truly love the equipment. Early surveys show 92% of ground operations crewmembers prefer the electric! They say they are smooth, zippy, safe, and clean.
System-wide, JetBlue set two ambitious goals:
You can see the vehicles in action here.
NYLCV will continue to advocate for emission-reducing projects like there.