Charlatte battery-powered baggage tractor
Wed 28 Jan 2009 – Westchester County Airport in New York state is replacing its 25 motorized ground vehicles with all-electric versions, which are expected to save about $200,000 a year in fuel costs (at $2/gallon) and eliminate 27,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the vehicles’ anticipated 14-year life span. Part of the $2.47 million cost will be met by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. Down in Costa Rica, NatureAir, which describes itself as the world’s first carbon-neutral airline, has launched its own alternative refuelling station to convert its ground vehicles to run on biodiesel.
Westchester County has already taken delivery on nine of the vehicles, which include baggage and aircraft tractors, water trucks and baggage belt loaders from manufacturers Lektro and Charlatte. All 25 electric vehicles will be powered by Deka industrial batteries and 13 advanced Minit-Charger fast charge stations.
“This is just another step in our programme to make the airport and all our facilities more environmentally friendly in keeping with my policy to protect the environment and reduce carbon emissions to fight global warming,” said County Executive Andy Spano, announcing the purchase of the vehicles, the cost of which is expected to be recouped within five to six years.
The airport is one of only nine nationwide to have taken advantage of the FAA’s Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) programme, which is designed to encourage airports to reduce polluting emissions. The FAA VALE grant towards the all-electric vehicle project is reported to be around $1.1 million. “We would strongly encourage other eligible airports to join Westchester County in this environmental programme,” said Pearlis Johnson, Acting Regional Administrator of the FAA’s Eastern Region.
“By leveraging federal dollars with technical experts and resources, tremendous environmental benefits will be realized,” commented Robert G. Callender of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. He said the airport had decided to purchase the new vehicles after its Environmental Management System determined that the petrol and diesel-powered vehicles were the second largest contributors to air pollution there.
In 2004, Westchester’s Environmental Management System was among only three US airports to be certified to the international ISO 14001 standard.
NatureAir has started Costa Rica’s first alternative refuelling station through its own aviation refuelling company Aerotica and is now providing biodiesel in addition to sales of aviation and jet fuel. The biodiesel is produced from a mixture of recycled vegetable and cooking oils, and can be run in any vehicle accustomed to diesel. A majority of the recycled vegetable oil comes from the airline’s own employees, each of whom was given their own canisters for collecting discarded oil from their homes, which is then converted into biodiesel at Aerotica.
The company estimates the initiative will save around 160 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
“This programme is an important milestone in NaturaAir’s dedication to protecting the environment and conserving our natural resources,” said the airline’s founder and CEO, Alex Khajavi. “We wanted to do something beyond our carbon-neutrality airline programme.”
NatureAir is in talks with the Costa Rican government to be able to open Aerotica biofuel sales elsewhere. “Aerotica has been selling regular gasoline for over 50 years, therefore it is a proud day when we were able to bring the next generation of sustainable and responsible fuel to Costa Rica,” said Khajavi. “While we may be the first to use biodiesel, we certainly hope other companies will soon have the capabilities to run their vehicles off cleaner and less expensive sources of energy.”
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