JetBlue Airline has announced that the airline is converting its fleet of baggage tractors and belt loaders — the largest part of its ground service equipment fleet at New York’s JFK International Airport — to electric powered. The largest fleet of electric ground service equipment of any airline at JFK, the move is expected to be of significant benefit for the environment.
Looking for more efficient technologies and sustainable fuel options, JetBlue will use electric bag tugs and belt loaders to replace the previous vehicles, which were powered by gasoline. The new eGSE equipment will help reduce noise, improve energy efficiency and lessen JetBlue’s environmental footprint.
By converting to eGSE, JetBlue will be cutting 4 million pounds of CO2 greenhouse gas emission per year — the equivalent of the amount of CO2 absorbed by 2,100 acres of U.S. forests. It will also reduce ground fuel usage by approximately 200,000 gallons of ground fuel a year, while improving its bottom line with more than $500,000 in ground fuel savings annually.
“Converting our ground service equipment to electric will not only help reduce our emissions, it will help with operational efficiencies including safer and quieter equipment for our ground operations crewmembers,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. “JetBlue has set ambitious goals to manage our CO2 emissions below the wing by transitioning our ground service equipment to electric power sources where feasible. This is one part of our overall efforts which primarily focuses on reducing our emissions from flying.”
JetBlue purchased and wholly owns the vehicles. Immediate gains from this conversion include zero tailpipe emissions which will reduce carbon monoxide, ozone precursors and particulate matter. The electric equipment brings additional safety features including a new aircraft detection system to reduce aircraft damage. With this conversion more than 40 percent of JetBlue’s motorized vehicles at JFK are now electric.
To charge the new eGSE fleet of 59 electric bag tugs and 59 electric belt loaders, JetBlue has phased in 38 charging hubs —w ith 118 charging ports — across all gates of Terminal 5. Support for the charging stations was provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey through a $4 million Voluntary Airport Low Emissions Program grant, the first awarded to NYPA from the Federal Aviation Administration. The grant accounts for 75 percent of the total cost of the charging stations. JetBlue provided a significant portion of the remaining cost for the charging stations with NYPA contributing an additional grant.
What’s next for eGSE? The airline is now setting its sights on its other focus cities to make the switch for enhanced operational efficiency. Next, a significant fleet of eGSE is expected to be introduced in Boston with construction and the installation of equipment slated for 2020.