What is an Aircraft Ground Power Unit?

Posted on July 26, 2022 Alan Walker

Ground Power Units (GPUs) belong to a category of tools and instruments called Ground Support Equipment (GSE). GPUs in particular are used for aircraft to supply power to airplanes when parked on the runway. When aircraft are stationed in a hangar, GPUs serve as critical workhorses, allowing various maintenance operations to be carried out. Each aircraft GPU delivers a specific amount of power through the use of a standard electrical system, battery pack, and gas, diesel, or small turbine engine. To better understand the function of GPUs, we will outline some varying types and their unique features.

In terms of power generation, it is essential that the GPU you select is compatible with your type of aircraft. For instance, a direct current (DC) system, which is usually a 12 or 24F system, is used for smaller jets and turboprop airplanes. Meanwhile, an alternating current (AC) system is similar to the electricity generated for homes and buildings. The AC electrical system runs in the 400 Hz band and is required for large business jets and commercial airliners.
One of the major advantages of these GSEs is that they limit the use of onboard turbo generators, also known as APUs, thereby reducing noise and air pollution. GPUs can be powered by internal combustion engines or all-electrical frequency converters, which transform standard electrical power into alternating or direct current. The deciding factor lies in what you are looking to get out of your GPU. For example, a gas-powered GPU is portable but necessitates frequent fuel and engine maintenance. In contrast, solid state rectifiers or electrical ground power unit models operate more quietly than internal combustion units, producing less pollution overall.
When making a purchasing decision, there are a few mistakes to avoid. While you may want to save money by opting for used or discounted options, you could lose more savings due to costly repairs and replacements. GPUs are intended to last decades with the proper care and maintenance, so purchasing a high-quality model will save you thousands in the long run. Used models, while lower-priced, could present inefficiencies and malfunctions. As GPUs necessitate maintenance on a regular basis anyways, this can be expensive if your model has underlying problems.
Power Systems International has aimed to improve GPU energy efficiency, making these units incredibly reliable. Their ground power unit is equipped with a normal 3-phase main power source that delivers an output of 200V 3 phase 400 Hz power to the aircraft via a specialized flexible cable. Furthermore, it has a built-in feature that enables the GPU to synchronize with onboard aircraft power systems such as the avionics and lighting systems.
With rigorous testing and implementation, this type of ground power system has proven to be efficient. First, it is only switched on when needed. Second, it is more flexible than earlier versions that focused on 400Hz systems in older airports that operate larger converters in parallel. This allows operators to draw continuous power from the mains to anticipate incoming aircraft and connect to the distribution circuit.
Power Systems International’s new dual circuit GPU system is built into a single enclosure with two 90kVA output circuits. That being said, the new generation of wide-bodied aircraft are now able to obtain power with two cables from a single location. This system, alongside other versions, are vertically configured and housed in a compact assembly. Additionally, they can be installed in a maintenance hangar or on the apron of an airport. This combination system can also be built in a horizontal configuration so that it can be mounted below the passenger loading bridge and operate in tandem with Power Systems International’s automatic cable reeling unit. More than that, their GPUs are made with all-weather protection for a myriad of applications. 
At Jet Parts 360, we carry an array of GPU options by trusted manufacturers like Power Systems International and many others. Jet Parts 360 has an ever-expanding inventory consisting of over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find parts, components, and power systems, allowing customers to find everything they need with time and cost savings. Peruse our expansive catalogs at your leisure, all of which have been alphabetically organized and categorized according to their relevant manufacturer, FSC, CAGE Code, part number, and more.
As an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited enterprise, customers can trust in the integrity of our offerings as we only source items from entities on our Approved Vendor List (AVL). Get started by requesting a competitive quote on any featured item through our Instant RFQ service, and within 15 minutes of submission, a dedicated representative will reach out with a customized solution. We only ask that you provide as much information as possible so we can better tailor a quote that works for you. For questions about our other offered services, call or email us at any time; we are available around the clock. Let the experts at Jet Parts 360 serve as your strategic sourcing partner! 


fb_logo tw_logo ln_logo

Related Blogs

Recent Twitter Posts

bottom to top