Emissions are growing more rapidly in the aviation sector than any other. In fact, air pollution at many large airports around the world is on a par with major, built-up, urban areas. However, driver training can play an important part in helping to reduce airport emissions.
While passenger air travel is a hugely important part of the global economy, airport operators, and all those who work at airports, have a responsibility to reduce the impact of air pollution. However, all too often the emphasis is focused on reducing aircraft emissions, when in fact, ground handling operations are also a major contributor to the problem.
Emissions from ground handling equipment
The emissions from fuel-based ground handling equipment represent a serious challenge to the climate in general, much like those from aircraft. One of the biggest issues is the emission of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), which leads to the production of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). This is extremely harmful to vegetation and contributes to the creation of ozone, which in turn plays a role in the ‘Greenhouse Effect’.
There are also reported health consequences related to NO2. The fine particles expelled into the air by the diesel engines found on many types of ground handling equipment are a known factor in respiratory conditions, cancers and premature death. It is estimated that 300,000-500,000 premature deaths are caused by fine particle pollution every year, so this understandably poses a considerable risk to people living near to airports, as well as staff working in the airside environment.
Environmental impact of electric ground handling equipment
Many ground handlers and airport operators are switching to electric equipment. However, although this may result in cleaner air, there is still a wider environmental cost. The electricity used to charge batteries often comes from fossil fuel power stations and battery production methods are notoriously “unenvironmental”. Users of electric equipment therefore have an obligation to both maximize battery life and reduce the amount of time spent charging batteries.
Taking all of this into account, there is a clear responsibility for ground handlers to find ways to move towards greener, more efficient ways of working, whether using fuel-powered or electric ground support equipment.
How can ground handling equipment training make you greener?
Training might not be the first thing you consider when trying to make your airside operation greener. However, if utilized correctly it can play an important role.
Airside equipment training improves efficiency
For instance, training operators in efficient operating techniques can help to reduce the amount of fuel or battery charge used. By operating at a steady, consistent speed there is a reduction in heavy acceleration and braking, resulting in less wasted energy and fuel. If close, precise maneuvers are conducted more accurately, the need to adjust and correct position is reduced, thereby avoiding more fuel and battery charge use.
Components such as power steering, tires and hydraulics all impact on fuel consumption and battery depletion, so training in the correct use of these is also essential to ensure equipment is operated efficiently. Plus, over time, components will inevitably wear out. Training operators in the importance of pre-use inspection is critical as it helps them to identify when components might be beyond peak performance and are therefore no longer efficient.
Increasing environmental awareness airside
Training is also an essential tool when it comes to raising general awareness of environmental issues and is the ideal channel for sharing the message of the importance of environmentally responsible operations. However, it’s important to focus this training on creating behavioral change if our sector wants to see a cultural shift around environmental and climate change issues.
Engaging operators early in their careers through training that not only focuses on operating standards but also makes environmental responsibility relevant to daily operations, will help ground handling organizations to reduce the effect that their operations have on the environment. Educating drivers in simply practices such as not idling diesel engines, battery care and maintenance, accurate operating standards, and the role of pre-use inspection in ensuring equipment is in efficient condition can all make a big difference to emissions and energy consumption.
However, awareness training is about more than just an operator’s own equipment and immediate operation. It should also be focused on identifying and speaking up if un-environmental behavior or situations are observed. Just as near misses should be reported for safety, situations that could adversely affect the environment should also be reported within a culture of openness and transparency.
RTITB Airside Training Consultancy
The RTITB Airside training consultancy works with the aviation sector to find better ways to deliver compliant, effective ground handling equipment operator training and airside vehicle driver training. This includes operator training with environmental awareness built in as well as airside equipment Instructor training.
To find out more about how to manage your environmental impact with the right driver training, get in touch with our expert consultants today.