Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) was awarded a $2.8 million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) grant to purchase and install 11 pre-conditioned air (PCA) units in terminals D and E in partnership with PHL's airlines.
PCA units use electricity from the terminal to allow aircraft to maintain a comfortable temperature while at the gate. Without a PCA, aircraft run an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), which is powered by jet fuel causing poor local air quality and noise, as well as contributing to carbon emissions. Using PCAs reduces carbon emissions, improves air quality, reduces noise, and reduces the use of jet fuel, saving airlines money.
Over 13 years, the PCAs at PHL are expected to reduce emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) by 5.6 tons, Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) by 78 tons, and particulate matter by 5.8 tons. “PHL’s continued pursuit of VALE grants has once again given us the opportunity to reduce emissions in line with our sustainability goals while also providing new equipment to our airline partners” said Api Appulingam, Deputy Director of Aviation-Capital Development.
The FAA's VALE program was established in 2004 to help airport sponsors reduce their emissions and meet Clean Air Act standards. The program allows airport sponsors to use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds and Passenger Facility Charges to fund projects that lower emissions and improve air quality. The program is expected to “reduce ozone emissions by 1,370 tons per year for the next 5 years. This is equivalent to removing 76,498 cars and trucks off the road each year.”
PHL, which was one of nine airports invited to participate in the White House Roundtable on Sustainable Aviation on September 9, has a long history of successfully implementing projects using VALE grants. In 2020, the airport received a $1 million grant to install 13 electric Ground Support Equipment (eGSE) charging stations in partnership with Southwest Airlines. PHL has installed all 13 charging stations and Southwest Airlines will begin using them in 2022 as they put their new eGSE fleet into operation. Previously, PHL has used VALE funds to acquire low-emissions vehicles, introduce ground power units, and install eGSE chargers and PCA units.