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IATA Initiative to Accelerate Transition to Enhanced GSE

Issue 24 - 2024
IATA Initiative to Accelerate Transition to Enhanced GSE

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) launched a program reinforcing the industry’s aim of increasing the use of enhanced ground support equipment (Enhanced GSE). Presented at IATA’s Ground Handling Conference (IGHC), the IATA Enhanced GSE Recognition Program aims to accelerate the introduction of Enhanced GSE technologies into daily operations, by recognizing those ground handlers who are leading this modernization of their vehicle fleets. The first ground handlers to obtain this recognition at various stations are HACTL and Menzies Aviation.

The program is the latest action to facilitate the transition to Enhanced GSE. It follows the publication in late 2022 of the IATA Ground Damage Report: The Case for Enhanced Ground Support Equipment which identified safety and sustainability benefits that could be gained from this transition.

Enhanced GSE uses anti-collision and inching technology, which improves vehicle control, and increases docking accuracy. Additionally, most Enhanced GSE is electrically powered, thereby delivering sustainability gains over most non-Enhanced GSE.

"The Enhanced GSE Recognition Program is another pillar of IATA's efforts to reduce ground damage by transitioning to Enhanced GSE fleets. The transition has been slow, despite well-documented gains in safety, cost-reduction and sustainability. By recognizing those companies leading the evolution, we aim to accelerate this critical industry transition,” said Monika Mejstrikova, IATA's Director of Ground Operations.

Ground Handling Service Providers (GHSPs) participating in the program will have the opportunity for their fleets to be assessed. Those achieving a ratio of Enhanced GSE to non-Enhanced GSE that exceeds a predetermined threshold will receive a recognition stamp valid for two years. Participation in the program will be voluntary and free of charge, as part of IATA's commitment to achieving industry-wide safety improvements without imposing financial burdens on GHSPs.

IATA estimates that the annual cost of ground damage could reach $10 billion by 2035 unless preventive action is taken. However, transitioning 75% of the global fleet of belt-loaders, cargo-loaders, passenger stairs and passenger boarding bridges to Enhanced GSE, would reduce the current expected ground damage cost per turn rate by 42%. 

The IATA Airport Handling Manual (AHM) already advises on the design and use of Enhanced GSE as a best practice. The program will serve as an add-on to the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO), which will include the integration of Enhanced GSE into operations as of 2025.

The program will be deployed in several phases, initially focusing on assessing the three types of GSE most associated with ground damage incidents: belt loaders, ULD loaders, and passenger stairs. Over time, it will expand to include lifting and elevating GSE that docks at aircraft doors and GSE that couples to aircraft.

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