The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched an initiative to support the industry’s adoption of Enhanced Ground Support Equipment (GSE), recognising the ground handlers who are “leading this modernization of their vehicle fleets” through its IATA Enhanced GSE Recognition Programme.

Enhanced GSE incorporates features such as anti-collision and ‘inching’ technology, which improves vehicle control and docking accuracy. Most Enhanced GSE is also electrically-powered, presenting a more sustainable alternative than legacy equipment.

Following on from its 2022 publication (which identified safety and sustainability benefits offered by the new equipment), IATA’s director of ground operations Monika Mejstrikova notes that the “transition has been slow, despite well-documented gains in safety, cost reduction and sustainability”. However, she hopes that by “recognising those companies leading the evolution,” IATA will be able to help “accelerate this critical industry transition”.

Ground handling service provides participating in the voluntary programme will have the opportunity to have their fleet assessed, with those achieving a suitable proportion of Enhanced GSE receiving a two-year validation stamp. Initial assessments will focus on the types of GSE most associated with ground damage incidents (belt loaders, ULD loaders and passenger stairs), with focus to widen over time.

Enrolment in the scheme will be free, with IATA estimating that transitioning 75% of the global fleet of belt-loaders, cargo-loaders, passenger stairs and boarding bridges to Enhanced GSE could save the current expected damage costs by 42% (something which could reach $10 billion annually unless preventative action is taken).

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