Cavotec specialises in the supply of power solutions for companies in multiple sectors across the globe. Future Airport talks to Gary Matthews, market unit director, airports, about how it is continuing to provide clean and efficient electrical ground support equipment for operators.

Could you tell us a little bit about Cavotec’s involvement in the airport sector?

Gary Matthews: Cavotec operates as a designer, manufacturer, system integrator and service partner for airports, airlines, and maintenance, repair and overall (MRO) facilities all over the world.

It provides a comprehensive range of advanced ground support equipment (GSE) systems, including 400Hz ground power units (GPUs), preconditioned air (PCA), and fuel and advanced distribution systems for connecting them to the aircraft, including in-ground pit equipment, 400Hz coilers, caddies, and aircraft plugs and cables.

Cavotec maintains manufacturing facilities across Europe and North America that are supported by a worldwide sales and service network that allows it to provide a local service for customers almost anywhere in the world.

To what extent is Cavotec moving towards the provision of fully electric or battery-driven GSE?

Electrification and automation are priorities within the entire Cavotec Group, not just the airports unit. This is why it has built up competence in its production of high and medium-voltage electrical connectors, radio remote and human/machine interface systems, along with cable management and reeling systems.

Cavotec has also been able to learn to use and apply similar technology from different industries in its work for airports. For example, its mobile battery-driven 400Hz power caddy is an attractive alternative for airports willing to use electrical mobile GPUs in order to reduce their environmental footprint and emissions, as well as their capital and operational expenditure.

The company also supports the market adoption of fully electric or battery-driven GSE, such as electrical push-back tractors or e-pallet loaders, by integrating into the apron a 50Hz in-ground pit to which mobile GSE can connect for operating and/or recharging their batteries.

Additionally, Cavotec is able to provide e-mobility, including self-retracting cable management systems and in-ground pits that can be used for charging electric tractors, buses and emergency vehicles.

What makes Cavotec’s in-ground pit technology unique?

The pit systems are essential in helping clear the tarmac, reducing apron congestion, aircraft ground damage and improving turnaround time. Moreover, they deliver those vital services to where they’re needed on the site; namely, below the aircraft at a minimum distance from its points of connection. This reduces solar heating, cooling losses and pressure drop of PCA. Cavotec’s in-ground pit system is also the fastest way for switching an aircraft APU, which ensures substantial cost savings for airlines and reduced emission levels at gates. A gate designed with pit systems will ensure five services – 400Hz, PCA, potable water, blue water and sewage – can be operated by one person. They also provide a means of avoiding collisions between mobile GSE and aircraft.

Cavotec is also unique in the marketplace because it manufactures and integrates full-400Hz PCA wet-service and fuel systems. It produces and supplies these from the incoming 50/60Hz all the way to aircraft connections. Because of this, a ‘functional guarantee’ of the system or service at the aircraft is offered. Cavotec will not blame other manufacturers or suppliers if a system does not perform, because it designs, manufactures and supplies every bit of it to ensure best performance.

How is Al-Maktoum International Airport deploying Cavotec’s products and services as part of its effort to become a zero-emission facility?

Al-Maktoum International in Dubai and Egypt’s El Alamein International are very important customers for Cavotec, not just in the Gulf region but also across the world. After all, if you can meet the requirements of an airport in a location where temperatures can exceed 45°C, you can satisfy operators in most places on the planet.

The company is especially proud of the continuous trust invested in it by the operators of Al-Maktoum, a relationship that began in the late 1980s that continues to offer opportunities to contribute towards one of the largest-ever historical airport developments.