Selecting the Right GSE for Your Operation

There are many factors to consider when choosing GSE for an airport operation. Top of the list is the need to have an efficient fleet, as well as one that is safe to operate – but environmental acknowledgement is also now in the mix. So exactly what should you be considering?

Assessing the operation

Clearly, the first step towards an informed selection will involve a detailed assessment of the operation on a daily basis. A handler needs to tabulate flight frequency as well as analyse the number and types of aircraft that are being served. How many passengers will be involved?  What about cargo volumes? When are the peaks and troughs in the flight schedules? Having this data to hand is vital when making informed GSE choices.

Aside from this is the question of locality. If the contract is in a locality that may experience extremes of weather, then it is essential that the GSE is fit for purpose. Unusually cold or hot conditions mean thinking ahead; solutions (such as GSE winterisation packages) are available to assist the handler perform his duties.

GSE range

It goes without saying that every element of GSE has a specific function. That said, some GSE can be used for more than one role – and this is worth remembering when it comes to purchase decisions. Being aware of the limitations of each unit is important.

Knowing the function and capacity of each type of GSE ultimately allows for a more targeted and efficient selection.

Keeping abreast of technological progress is also essential. The GSE world does not stand still and so recent developments, such as electrification, special catalytic converters and solar panels should all be examined and understood: would any of these benefit your operation? Similarly, there is the matter of efficiency. Today’s GSE has improved immeasurably and the adoption of high energy efficiency solutions can, in turn, reduce the cost of an operation, especially in terms of the environment. Electric GSE, in particular, is becoming ever more popular as airport infrastructures adapt through the installation of vehicle charging points. Less greenhouse gas emissions and a more pleasant working environment are the net benefits here.

Owning and running

Buying (or renting) the GSE is the starting point: then the handler has to look at the bigger picture. A handler should be aware of the Total Cost of Ownership (or TCO) when making an investment. This includes GSE maintenance, repairs and replacement costs. Quality of GSE is another factor to investigate: more expensive GSE may well have a longer working life. Here again, the question of efficiency raises its head.

In terms of maintenance it will pay dividends to know in advance how easy (or complicated) it may be to work on specific GSE; likewise, how is the spare part back-up situation? Is it better to outsource the maintenance requirement – or take the steps to have it performed in house? Does the manufacturer offer a network of support technicians? After all, no handler wants to experience potentially expensive downtime in their operation.

If electric GSE is on the handler’s agenda, then knowledge of the airport’s charging facilities, as well as how to best integrate this technology with a diesel-powered fleet, will be helpful; in addition, there is the necessity of ensuring the workforce is trained in operating this type of GSE. Ultimately, whatever the type of power and whatever the GSE chosen, selecting a reliable provider is as important as the equipment itself. A provider with a solid market reputation can usually offer high quality equipment as well as robust after-sales support. Some providers can present a full range of services that include straightforward sales, rental/leasing, maintenance options and electric solutions: such providers become, in effect, a one-stop-shop, which greatly assists the handler when investment becomes necessary.


In summary, the correct choice of GSE is essential for ensuring an efficient, safe and sustainable airport operation. And finding a provider that can fulfill all these disparate needs, and more besides, will translate into a long term bonus for the handler.

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