Action plan targets reduced auxiliary power unit (APU) use by stationary aircraft at Schiphol

Schiphol has submitted an action plan, incorporating input from partners at the airport, to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) aimed at reducing the use of auxiliary power units (APU) by aircraft parked on the apron. Schiphol views reducing APU use as a priority in light of the concrete improvement this makes to healthy working conditions for apron workers. It also contributes to reducing CO2 emissions from aviation as a whole.

An auxiliary power unit (APU), which is normally mounted in the tail of an aircraft, provides autonomous starting power for the main engines, supplies electricity in the aircraft and provides pneumatic pressure, which is needed for various functions including air conditioning on board. The APU runs on kerosene and causes harmful emissions as well as noise nuisance for apron workers when operating.

The ILT's report, on the use of the auxiliary power unit (APU) of an aircraft, included an instruction to Schiphol to come up with an action plan before 1 March 2023 with concrete measures to reduce APU use in practice.

The key actions put forward in the action plan, based on the conclusions from the ILT report, are: 

1.  Shortening the use of the APU 

·       From 20 April, the APU may only be used before aircraft departure for 5 minutes, instead of 10 minutes as is currently permitted. Expanding facilities for preconditioned air (PCA). 

2. Schiphol will provide PCA units and install them on suitable aircraft stands. Preconditioned air reduces the need to make use of the APU. 

3. Improving monitoring of APU usage 

·       Expansion of monitoring by Schiphol Authority of APU use.  

·       Schiphol (Airside Operations) will determine, on a case-by-case basis and using established criteria, whether APU use is permitted, although ultimate responsibility remains with the captain of the aircraft.

4. Switch to using sustainable fuels 

·       By deploying ground equipment and facilities to reduce APU use, with ground handling equipment running on renewable diesel. 

5. Promote use of fixed electrical ground power 

·       Prevent equipment failures by providing instructions and improving the process for remedying malfunctions and failures. 

6. Schiphol will organise an awareness campaign for all employees explaining the importance of reducing APU use.