The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for a transition to enhanced ground support equipment, to improve safety and contain the cost of ground damage.

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. IATA’s call for the transition has been published as part of a new report: IATA Ground Damage Report: The Case for Enhanced Ground Support Equipment.

IATA estimates that the annual cost of ground damage could double to nearly $10bn by 2035 unless preventive action is taken. The cost of ground damage forecast is based on direct costs (including labour and materials, temporary leasing, logistical expenses, and administration) and indirect costs (lost revenue, crew and passenger repositioning costs, compensation for delayed services, etc.).

The study found that most aircraft ground damage that occurs once the aircraft is stationary is caused by motorised GSE striking the fuselage of the aircraft; and that the widebody aircraft ground damage rate is ten times higher than narrowbody aircraft, but regional jets, turboprop, and narrow-body aircraft are 30% more prone to severe ground damage.

It also stated that belt-loaders, cargo-loaders, passenger stairs and passenger boarding bridges cause 40% of total incidents, and estimated that transitioning 75% of these worldwide to enhanced GSE would reduce the current expected ground damage cost per turn rate by 42%.

“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,” said Nick Careen, IATA senior vice president operations, safety and security.
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 is electrically powered, IATA noted. 
IATA will work with industry partners to implement strategies, goals, and programmes to drive adoption of enhanced GSE. The IATA Airport Handling Manual already advises the design and use of GSE anti-collision systems (enhanced GSE) as a best practice, with many airlines, and ground handlers seeing the first benefits. 


Image: Heathrow Airports Limited