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130 A P P E N D I X C Pilot Survey Summary The research team sought the input of commercial airline pilots via an online survey on impediments to the use of electric preconditioned air (PCA) units and electric ground power systems (collectively referred to as gate electrification systems), and potential opportunities to overcome these challenges. As pilots have ultimate control over the aircraft and the decision concerning whether or not to use APUs, their perspective is critical to understanding utilization of gate electrification systems. The survey questions were developed based on initial focus group and case study stakeholder input. They were also reviewed and approved by the project panel. They included questions covering pilotsâ APU use, communication related to APU use, experience concerning the reliability of gate electrification equipment, opinion on improving gate electrification utilization, and knowledge of related airline policies. The survey was distributed electronically via Survey Monkey (online survey software) to individual airline representatives identified during the project and to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). It was also announced by research team members via social media through LinkedIn. 1. Respondent Summary Data The research team received 232 total responses to the survey. This section covers demographic characteristics of the pilot survey respondents. Pilot airline affiliation Respondent pilots represent a variety of airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. Although the survey was widely distributed, a significant majority (83 percent) of the responses came from just one airline. Significant efforts were made by the research team to solicit additional responses from a variety of airlines, including follow-up emails and outreach to ALPA, airline representatives that participated in case study interviews and individual survey respondents to encourage participation from their peers. These efforts resulted in some additional responses but the overall distribution of survey responses remained unbalanced in favor of the one airline with the greatest number of pilot respondents. For this reason, some of the survey responses summarized in this section were analyzed and disaggregated to show responses broken out â one set of responses from the majority respondent airlineâs pilots (referred to âAirline 1 Pilot Respondentsâ), and the second set of responses from all other airlines (âAll Other Respondentsâ). In general however, the responses of Airline 1 Pilots and the other respondents were comparable.
Pilot Survey Summary 131 Figure 59. Types of aircraft flown by pilot respondents. 2. Survey Responses Summary Data The survey collected data from pilots on a variety of measures to identify challenges to utilization and best practices to improve utilization of gate electrification systems. APU Use The survey collected information concerning the conditions in which pilots choose to run the aircraft APU even if electric PCA and/or ground power is available. The four most common responses were: 1. ambient temperatures are too hot for PCA to effectively cool the aircraft; 2. equipment is out of service; 3. ground crew does not connect aircraft; and 4. weather conditions are unsafe for ground crew to connect the aircraft. The responses are summarized in Figure 60, depicting Airline 1 Pilot Respondents in blue and all other respondents in orange. 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% 60.00% 70.00% 80.00% 90.00% 100.00% Business jets Regional jets Narrow-body Wide-body Jumbo Airline 1 Respondents All Other Respondents Types of aircraft flown The survey collected information concerning the general type of aircraft that pilots typically fly. Pilots were able to select multiple response choices. A majority of pilot respondents fly narrow-body aircraft. This was consistent for both Airline 1 Respondents as well as all other respondents (see Figure 59).
132 Optimizing the Use of Electric Preconditioned Air (PCA) and Ground Power Systems at Airports Respondents were also able to enter in additional reasons not listed in the survey for using the APU when electric PCA and ground power are available. Below are summaries of some responses: â¢ Consistently poor quality (of gate electrification equipment) creates general lack of confidence in the equipment; â¢ Preprogrammed PCA systems to change from warm to cold seasonally can result in the aircraft running APUs for several months of the year during shoulder seasons (fall and spring) because of unpredictable and variable ambient temperatures; â¢ Certain aircraft models seem to have ducting issues that prevent PCA from reaching the cabin; â¢ If only one of the systems (PCA or ground power) is available and not the other, the APU will be turned on; â¢ Lack of temperature gauge or sensor for regulating temperature of PCA. Sometimes the air is too cold or too hot (as opposed to not cool or warm enough). Communication concerning APU use and fuel burn Several airline representatives stated during the focus group and case study interviews that their companies track APU fuel use, and in some cases communicate with airline station managers if fuel use is higher than anticipated. APU fuel use data can be used to determine if aircraft are using their APUs more than anticipated, which could signify that electric PCA or ground power was not available. The survey asked the pilot respondents if they receive communications directly from their airline if an anomaly in APU use or fuel burn is detected. Figure 60. Reasons pilots turned on their aircraftâs APU while parked. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Mismatch between aircraft model and equipment configuration Short turn-around time Aircraft parked at hardstand Equipment availability unknown Ambient temperatures are too cold for PCA to effectively warm the aircraft Unsafe weather conditions for ground crew to connect Ground crew not connecting aircraft Equipment is out of service / not working Ambient temperatures are too hot for PCA to effectively cool the aircraft Airline 1 Respondents All Other Respondents
Pilot Survey Summary 133 Responses to this question were analyzed based on Airline 1 Respondents and all other respondents. A majority of Airline 1 Respondents (60 percent) report that their airline does not communicate with them directly concerning this item (negative responses shown in orange on both charts in Figure 61). Conversely, a majority of all other airline pilot respondents (57 percent) report that their airline does communicate directly with them if an APU fuel use anomaly is detected (positive responses shown in blue in Figure 61). The number of respondents who replied âI donât knowâ was similar for Airline 1 Respondents and all other airline respondents (12 and 15 percent respectively). Figure 61. Comparison of responses concerning communication of anomaly in APU use/ fuel burn. The survey question asked: Does your airline communicate with pilots when they detect an anomaly in APU use/ fuel burn? Reliability of gate electrification equipment Both the airport and the pilot surveys demonstrate that electric PCA and ground power equipment reliability is not uniform across all airports. A majority (57 percent) of all pilot respondents report that there are airports at which the PCA and ground power equipment are more readily available and reliable than at other airports. In addition, a majority (68 percent) of pilot respondents report that there are airports where they have experienced consistent problems with the availability and reliability of this equipment. If pilots experience consistent problems with electric PCA and ground power equipment at a particular airport, they may lose confidence in the reliability of the equipment, and by default turn on the APU. Improvement of gate electrification utilization The survey asked respondents for their opinions on actions and practices that could improve utilization of electric PCA and ground power systems (listed in Figure 62). Respondents to this question were able to check all that applied in their opinion. Although the answers were similar for both Airline 1 Respondents and all other respondents, the selections are shown separately in Figure 62. A majority of all responding pilots agree that increasing the availability and reliability of electric PCA/ ground power equipment is the most critical action to improve utilization [airline personnel explained to the research team through case study interviews that pilots consider PCA and ground power equipment to be unavailable when it is damaged, out of service, and when it is not âright sizedâ, (i.e., not sufficiently powerful to meet the aircraftâs needs)]. Another common opinion expressed in the survey is support for Yes No I donât know Yes No I donât know Airline 1 Respondents All Other Respondents 28% 60% 12% 28% 57% 15%
134 Optimizing the Use of Electric Preconditioned Air (PCA) and Ground Power Systems at Airports a PCA system that pulls air from terminals instead of the apron, so that air being pulled into the PCA is already better conditioned. Figure 62. Opinions on how to improve utilization of PCA/ ground power (RIDS stands for Ramp Information Display System). Respondents were also able to enter in additional suggestions for improving utilization of this equipment. Fifty-four respondents replied with potential solutions, which are summarized below (similar responses were consolidated): â¢ Ensuring proper length of PCA hoses is dispensed, removing hose kinks, checking for holes in the hoses; â¢ Addition of better temperature sensors and controls to match ambient air temperature (some also suggested providing pilots with control over PCA temperature); â¢ Adequately sized equipment (i.e. more powerful PCA units); â¢ Proper maintenance of equipment to improve reliability; â¢ Improved communication between ground crew and flight crew before disconnecting PCA; â¢ Improved training for ground and flight crews; â¢ Insulated PCA hoses to minimize loss of cooled/heated air over the length of the hose; â¢ Closing aircraft window shades, opening air vents; â¢ Hoods on provisioning trucks to prevent loss of cooled/heated air from aircraft cabin when aircraft doors are open. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Displaying the availability of equipment on RIDS Super-cooling aircraft on approach so PCA can keep it cool on hot days Up-gauging equipment to better match aircraft size Reels to dispense proper length of hose (i.e. less chance of damage) Enhanced ground crew training PCA that pulls air from terminals instead of apron (i.e. already better conditioned) Increasing availability and reliability of PCA/ ground power equipment Airline 1 Respondent All Other Respondents
Pilot Survey Summary 135 Airline policies A majority of pilot respondents report that their airline has specific policies or requirements in place regarding the use of gate electrification equipment when available, and for communication of problems or issues with the equipment. Although the responses were similar, Airline 1 Respondents (blue color in Figure 63) are broken out from all other respondents (orange color). Approximately 77 percent of Airline 1 Respondents report that they are aware of their airlineâs policy regarding communication and coordination between pilots and ground crews for the use of electric PCA and ground power, while 67 percent of other respondents report that they are aware of this type of communication protocol. This represents a possible area of focus for airlines, to communicate these policies with pilots to reduce the number who are currently unaware of such policies and procedures. The survey also asked the pilots if their airline has a reporting process for pilots to notify the airline headquarters when gate electrification systems are inoperable at an airport. About 85 percent of Airline 1 Respondents answered that their airline does have this type of policy, whereas 79 percent of all other responding pilots reported this type of process. Figure 63. Pilot awareness of airline policies or requirements regarding PCA/ ground power communication issues. 3. Survey Conclusions The survey results provide a snapshot from a relatively small percentage of pilots. However, the 232 pilot responses combined with the focus group and case study interviews which included airline representatives in most cases provide the research team with an understanding of operational issues faced by pilots when considering the use of gate electrification equipment. Some of the conclusions drawn from the survey results are listed below. â¢ In general, the responses were similar across all airlines represented despite the imbalance in responses. â¢ The most important barrier reported by pilots to the use of gate electrification equipment is availability and reliability. â¢ Pilotsâ decisions to use APU instead of gate electrification equipment may vary from airport to airport, and where gate electrification reliability issues are common, pilots are less likely to initiate use of the equipment (i.e., they are more likely to use APUs without trying to connect to gate electrification equipment first). 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% A reporting process for Pilots to notify HDQ of PCA/ground power system inoperability Communication and coordination between pilots and ground crews regarding PCA / ground power use Airline 1 Respondents All Other Respondents
136 Optimizing the Use of Electric Preconditioned Air (PCA) and Ground Power Systems at Airports â¢ Many pilots provided additional comments in the open text sections of the survey which indicated a lack of confidence in the effectiveness of PCA systems to condition aircraft cabins (even when the equipment is operational), due to too high ambient temperatures, lack of temperature control mechanisms to adjust air coming out of the PCA hose, and compromised equipment such as kinks or tears in the PCA hose. â¢ Pilot responses about awareness of airline policies regarding use of gate electrification equipment, communication with ground crew, and reporting problems suggests an opportunity for improvement that can affect overall utilization.
Abbreviations and acronyms used without definitions in TRB publications: A4A Airlines for America AAAE American Association of Airport Executives AASHO American Association of State Highway Officials AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials ACIâNA Airports Council InternationalâNorth America ACRP Airport Cooperative Research Program ADA Americans with Disabilities Act APTA American Public Transportation Association ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers ASME American Society of Mechanical Engineers ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials ATA American Trucking Associations CTAA Community Transportation Association of America CTBSSP Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Synthesis Program DHS Department of Homeland Security DOE Department of Energy EPA Environmental Protection Agency FAA Federal Aviation Administration FAST Fixing Americaâs Surface Transportation Act (2015) FHWA Federal Highway Administration FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FRA Federal Railroad Administration FTA Federal Transit Administration HMCRP Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ISTEA Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 ITE Institute of Transportation Engineers MAP-21 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (2012) NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASAO National Association of State Aviation Officials NCFRP National Cooperative Freight Research Program NCHRP National Cooperative Highway Research Program NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NTSB National Transportation Safety Board PHMSA Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration RITA Research and Innovative Technology Administration SAE Society of Automotive Engineers SAFETEA-LU Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (2005) TCRP Transit Cooperative Research Program TDC Transit Development Corporation TEA-21 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998) TRB Transportation Research Board TSA Transportation Security Administration U.S. DOT United States Department of Transportation
TRA N SPO RTATIO N RESEA RCH BO A RD 500 Fifth Street, N W W ashington, D C 20001 A D D RESS SERV ICE REQ U ESTED N O N -PR O FIT O R G . U .S. PO STA G E PA ID C O LU M B IA , M D PER M IT N O . 88 ISBN 978-0-309-48077-2 9 7 8 0 3 0 9 4 8 0 7 7 2 9 0 0 0 0 O ptim izing the U se of Electric Preconditioned A ir (PC A ) and G round Pow er System s at A irports TRB