Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has devised an action plan aimed at helping reduce the use of auxiliary power units (APUs) by stationary aircraft.

Schiphol submitted its action plan, incorporating input from partners at the airport, to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT). The airport views reducing APU use as a priority in light of the concrete improvement this makes to healthy working conditions for apron workers, it said. Reducing APU use will also contribute to cutting CO2 emissions.

An auxiliary power unit (APU), which is normally mounted in the tail of an aircraft, provides autonomous starting power for the main engines, supplies electricity in the aircraft and provides pneumatic pressure, which is needed for various functions, including air conditioning on board. The APU runs on kerosene and causes harmful emissions as well as noise nuisance for apron workers when operating.

The action plan was created in response to an instruction from the ILT, Schiphol noted. The key actions put forward in the action plan, based on the conclusions from the ILT report, are: 

From April 20, APUs will be used for just five minutes before aircraft departure, rather than the 10 minutes currently permitted

Schiphol will provide PCA (preconditioned air) units, installing them on suitable aircraft stands. This will reduce the need for APUs

The airport will expand the monitoring of its APU usage. It will also determine, on a case-by-case basis and using established criteria, whether APU use is permitted, although ultimate responsibility remains with the captain of the aircraft

Schiphol will increasingly use sustainable fuels, by deploying ground equipment and facilities to reduce APU use, with ground handling equipment running on renewal diesel. It will also promote use of fixed electrical ground power

The airport will organise an awareness campaign for all employees, explaining the importance of reducing APU use.

Image: Royal Schiphol Group