In a UK first, Manchester Airport and a number of partners have been involved in a one month demonstration of new equipment that will reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality during aircraft turnarounds.

The scheme has seen Swissport, Posicharge, Charlatte Manutention, Terberg and Thomson Airways working with the airport’s Environment team to demonstrate new, electric, specialist equipment for loading and towing an aircraft.

Powered by 100% renewable electricity, the push back tug, belt loader and multi-purpose cargo tractor ensure there are zero emissions from the ground handling equipment compared to the use of traditional diesel fuelled equipment.

To support the trial, the airport has introduced a rapid charging point which will charge the equipment in less than 2 hours – with one charge lasting several days. For passengers, electric equipment means a smoother pushback from the terminal whilst also providing a cleaner and quieter working environment for staff working at the airport.

Tim Walmsley, Head of Environment and Health and Safety at Manchester Airport, said: “Manchester Airport is committed to reducing carbon emissions right across the airport. This trial supports this goal as well as improving air quality and providing a cleaner working environment for those involved in airside operations and also enhances the customer experience.”

Matt Hill, Head of GSE Sales for Terberg DTS, said “The trial has been a complete success demonstrating that with the Schopf F110E pushback tractor Ground Handlers and airlines can switch to greener technology without affecting their operational effectiveness whilst also making huge improvements to the working environment.”

Capt. Stuart Gruber, Director of Flight Operations at Thomson Airways, said ‘’As a travel company we are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our operations and Thomson Airways has already taken significant steps in this direction, such as lowering our average carbon emissions per passenger by 10% over the last six years. We operate Europe’s most carbon-efficient airline and we aim to maintain that role and build on it. We are excited to participate in the trial that helps to reduce the environmental impact of our ground operations”

Bob Belither Manager for the UK and Ireland from Charlatte Manutention, said: “Charlatte was pleased to participate is this trial in conjunction with MAG to support their environmental infrastructure goals.”

The trial is proving hugely successful and it is expected that electric handling equipment will become widely adopted as the airfield is redeveloped as part of the £1bn Manchester Airport Transformation Programme.