Polar Air Cargo and WFS sign contract in Los Angeles

PolarAirCargoaircraftdeparting resizedPolar Air Cargo has expanded its partnership with Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) through a long-term contract at Los Angeles International Airport.

WFS started providing warehouse handling services from December 2021 and will also manage scheduled and ad-hoc freighter services for Atlas Air from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is one of Polar’s biggest stations in the US and the airline has expanded its footprint with a second warehouse totalling more than 230,000 square feet.

Guido DiGiandomenico, Vice President of Sales in North America for WFS says: “In Los Angeles, thanks to the hard work of our local WFS team, we have earned a solid reputation for providing quality cargo handling services in what is a challenging marketplace. We look forward to supporting Polar’s continued growth at this very important west coast gateway.”

Fenix Logistix invests in Irish operations

FLI_GHI001_ElectricPushback resizedFenix Logistix has invested in its Irish firm, Fenix Logistix Ireland to develop business opportunities in Ireland, the UK and throughout Europe.

The Dublin-based ground handling and logistics firm, Fenix Logistix Ireland (FLie) was established during one of the most challenging times in aviation history and will meet the needs of the continually changing commercial aviation market, focusing on professional staff and modern technology.

The Seattle headquartered parent company says the investment will strength Fenix’s brand and along with sharing knowledge and core competencies from its US operations, Fenix in Ireland will enjoy synergies of multi-national operations.

FLie started 2022 with the acquisition of RED Handling UK from Norwegian Airlines, which became a wholly owned subsidiary on 1 January.

RED Handling, based at London’s Gatwick Airport was established in 2016 as a test model to provide Norwegian a dedicated handling company for its largest hub outside Scandinavia.

Unifi takes on aha! Airlines at 10th station

Unifi-Team-aha-Airlines resizedUnifi has started serving aha! Airlines at its 10th station, starting operations at Palm Springs International Airport on 3 January.

The ground handler provides aha! with ground handling operations and passenger services for over 50 flights a week.

The two companies started their partnership on 24 October at Reno-Tahoe International Airport helping ExpressJet Airlines relaunch flight operations for its leisure brand.

Gautam Thakkar, CEO of Unifi says: “By providing full ground handling services to 10 of their 11 locations, we’re happy to be their largest ground-handling partner. We’re committed to providing aha! the high-level service Unifi is known for and strengthening our relationship into the future.”

Unifi provides aha! with ground handling services at Bakersfield, Fresno, Ontario and Palm Springs in California, at Eugene, Medford and Redmond in Oregon, Pasco/Tri-Cities and Spokane in Washington, and Reno in Nevada.

From the magazine: Going Underground with Aircraft Towing Systems

ATS artist impressionMaking aircraft more efficient is very important for improving sustainability but what can be done when they are on the ground? Deputy Editor James Muir spoke to Aircraft Towing Systems (ATS) World Wide about its game-changing proposal.

As aviation grows, so will its contribution to global carbon dioxide emissions. Aircraft are considerably more efficient than they used to be but they still use significant amounts of fuel and emit harmful gases. According to the report Decarbonizing Aviation: Cleared for Take Off, almost 10% of emission reductions can be achieved by fixing inefficiencies when aircraft are taxiing and waiting to take off.

Aircraft Towing Systems (ATS) World Wide has developed a towing system that could not only save the airlines considerable amounts of money through reducing fuel use, but also make operations safer. Its system works on a rail, with the pilot taxiing onto the towing system and once the nose landing gear is secure, they can turn the main jet engines off and relax. In a pre-engineered pattern, the towing system, which runs along a rail embedded in an underground channel, then tows the aircraft to the gate and back to the runway.

It has three primary components, a channel in the ground covered in steel plates, a pullcar in the ground powered by an electric car motor that drives hydraulic pumps driving hydraulic motors that clamp on a monorail in the bottom of the channel and software. The pullcar is connected through the cover plates to the tow dolly. The tow dolly looks like a round disc with ramps on each end for the aircraft’s nose landing gear to drive upon. Then the pilot shuts off the engines, which is “when all the good stuff starts happening”, in the words of Vince Howie, CEO of ATS World Wide. Fuel is saved, emissions are not emitted, noise is reduced and the aircraft is being guided significantly reducing the chance of collisions.

He adds: “The system is fully automated, so it knows what type of aircraft is loaded into the tow dolly, then takes the aircraft to the correct gate and knows where to stop so you don’t overshoot the jet bridge.”

Howie has experience of overshooting, taking a flight recently that overshot the jet bridge slightly. It took 27 minutes before they were pushed back about a metre so the jet bridge would line up.
The system automates several manual processes and optimises taxiway and gate selection. Howie has been working with Oklahoma State University for six years doing development work. They calculated throughput at airports could increase by up to 30% using the ATS system. Several airports are interested for this reason alone.

Howie spent 29 years in the US Air Force then served as the Aerospace and Defense Director for the state of Oklahoma working directly for the Governor. The idea came about at the 2015 Paris Air Show where he met Stan Malicki who had an innovative proposal to move aircraft around airports. Aircraft Towing Systems World Wide LLC was formed in 2016 and Oklahoma State University was put on contract to develop the idea that same year. Two years ago, the project needed working full-time so Howie left his job at the state and filled that role.

Malicki had been working on the idea since the early 2000s after he returned to his native Poland having lived for a long time in West Germany, where he became a successful businessman. A friend of his, a 747 pilot, was complaining about the amount of fuel being burnt on the ground. So Malicki gave the problem to some Sukhov helicopter engineers now working for him in Warsaw, they developed a similar concept using motors above ground and run by belts.

To put the system in place, ATS would run simulation models looking at aircraft traffic flows at the airport and how to optimise everything. Howie says: “If airports have the complete system, it would have tracks running from every gate to taxiways and ramp areas with return loops. They would have a pullcar and tow dolly for every gate plus about 10% extra pullcars. We would calculate the maximum number of aircraft on the ground at any one time and that’s the number of pullcars an airport would need.”

The fuel savings would be considerable. Howie says that around 80% of airline fleets are composed of Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s type aircraft, which burn around nine gallons of fuel per minute during taxi. Average taxi times at US airports are between 16 and 27 minutes, and with up to 900,000 movements at large airports, ATS predicts fuel savings could be almost $500m. Also, towing aircraft places less stress on the airframe than using the throttles to move aircraft.

Howie says: “The enticement for airports comes from saving the airlines fuel, the airport becomes a good partner in the community because they are reducing emissions and noise, also increasing efficiency by improving throughput. The airport would recoup the cost by charging a 50% landing fee based on fuel savings of that particular aircraft during taxiing. It would be a 50/50 cost share and savings between the airline saving 50% on fuel during taxi and the airport charging 50% landing fee.”

Interested in reading more? The full article was published in the November/December issue of Ramp Equipment News, click here to read the digital edition.

ATS has released a video showing how the system works, which can be viewed here.

Amazon facility in San Bernardino faces green legal challenge

Rob Bonta, Attorney General of California

Rob Bonta, Attorney General of California

The Attorney General of California has filed a petition demanding the challenge against the air cargo facility used by Amazon at San Bernardino airport is reheard.

The $200m Eastgate Air Cargo Logistics Center received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval in 2019 and Amazon was announced as a tenant in May 2020, opening its facility in April 2021.

In his petition before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Attorney General Rob Bonta says the area near the airport is home to low-income communities and communities of colour who already suffer disproportionately from air pollution-related illnesses.

He says that despite recognising that the project will add at least one tonne of air pollution per day into the already heavily polluted South Coast Air Basin due to dozens of additional flights and thousands of truck trips, and over the objections of the Attorney General and local community, the FAA approved the project.

In a statement, Bonta says: “It doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have. You can’t cut corners when the health and well-being of our communities is at stake.”

He adds: “As the People’s Attorney, I’m committed to lifting up the voices of communities who live at the intersection of poverty and pollution. The fact is: communities like the one impacted by this Project in San Bernardino are all too often overburdened and under-resourced. These communities, who are already experiencing health harms from pollution, deserve to be protected to the fullest extent of the law, and through our Bureau of Environmental Justice, we’re committed to seeing this fight through.”

The 658,000 square foot air cargo facility has parking positions for 14 aircraft and when construction started in August 2020, it was announced that 1,700 new permanent jobs would be created in the first year of operation, rising to 3,800 when the facility becomes fully operational.

The Attorney General says the panel should reconsider their decision because the burden of proof was not applied properly, the environmental analysis was flawed, and the decision raises questions about government transparency and the ability of the public to protect themselves from environmental harm caused by federal agency action.