Brussels Airport Stargate Project Advances Sustainable Aviation After Two Years

Brussels Airport Stargate Project Advances Sustainable Aviation After Two Years

(IN SHORT) The Brussels Airport Stargate project, in collaboration with a consortium of 21 partners, has marked its two-year milestone in pursuing sustainability within aviation. This European Green Deal initiative focuses on practical solutions, such as electric ground handling equipment, the Digital Green Lane for cargo, and encouraging alternative transportation methods for staff. With further plans to accelerate efforts in 2024, including hydrogen-powered equipment and biofuel blending, the project demonstrates a commitment to greening the aviation industry. Subsidized by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, the project’s progress signifies a significant step towards a more sustainable aviation future.

(PRESS RELEASE) Brussels, Belgium, 2023-Nov-28 — /Travel PR News/ — The Brussels Airport Stargate project, which is being implemented in collaboration with a consortium of 21 partners, has now been up and running for 2 years. The aim of this European Green Deal project is to come up with concrete solutions for improving the sustainability of aviation and airports. Project initiatives over the past year have included the ordering of electric ground handling equipment and the provision of the necessary charging infrastructure, the further roll out of the Digital Green Lane to reduce waiting times for trucks and the promotion of alternative mobility solutions for airport staff.

The Stargate project is a Brussels Airport initiative, which is being implemented in collaboration with 21 partners including three European airports, various airlines, mobility and knowledge institutes and local authorities. Stargate’s ambition is to develop innovations and initiatives that accelerate the transition to greener aviation. It incorporates approximately thirty small to large-scale projects with a focus on three main areas: a further decarbonisation of airport operations, improving the local environmental quality and promoting the modal shift.

During its second year, the project has developed and rolled out several concrete initiatives and completed a significant amount of preparatory work for various tests and demos that will be undertaken in 2024.

Electrification in action

In terms of decarbonisation, the Stargate project is focussing its efforts on electric ground handling equipment. Following successful testing, consortium partner DHL Aviation has proceeded to order various types of electric machinery. 11 electric pushback tractors (Mulags) and 14 crew vans will be delivered in December, followed by 2 nose lifters, 2 belt loaders and 9 high loaders by mid-2024. After delivery of this equipment over 30% of DHL’s ground handling equipment will be electric, a huge step in improving the sustainability of their ground operations.

This has the potential to drastically reduce both the CO2 emissions and the noise impact associated with ground operations, which is beneficial to staff and local residents alike. The necessary on-site preparations for this new equipment have already been completed. This includes the provision of 28 charging points, with 10 more to come.

Digital Green Lane and modal shift

The Digital Green Lane is a fully digital system for the delivery and collection of goods between freight forwarders and ground handlers, facilitated using cloud-based applications via BRUcloud. This process offers numerous benefits:  shorter waiting times for the trucks that deliver and collect goods, a reduction in CO2 emissions, increased transparency and less paper. The Digital Green Lane was further expanded by cargo community organisation Air Cargo Belgium and some 95% of all cargo in the Brussels Airport cargo zone is now processed via this system. A pilot programme incorporating this same system was also launched by partner airport Athens International Airport last year.

Another of Stargate’s objectives is to encourage the modal shift, including amongst airport staff. Brussels Airport has consequently appointed a Bike Manager in partnership with the Province of Flemish Brabant, who will assess the potential for increased bicycle usage at the airport and develop concrete measures and campaigns to boost the number of cyclists. The Bike Manager has since launched “The Bike Test” campaign, ensured the installation of bicycle counters at the airport and conducted a bicycle survey to identify staff needs and incentives. The airport has additionally launched a Carpool Tool which enables employees from all airport companies to find carpooling buddies in their local area.

2024: the year of acceleration

A host of projects have been developed over the past year with a view to accelerating Stargate in 2024. These will facilitate various on-site tests and demos that are scheduled to take place at Brussels Airport next year. This includes the testing of hydrogen-powered ground handling equipment by cargo zone handlers to evaluate the pros and cons on site. Aéroport de Toulouse-Blagnac also plans to test hydrogen-powered ground handling equipment.

Aviation fuel comprising a blend of kerosene and biofuel can be supplied at Brussels Airport via the NATO pipeline. However, the Stargate project is now exploring the possibility of blending kerosene with a higher ratio of biofuel. The necessary preparatory work has been undertaken over the past year to design and develop a mobile blending plant that will facilitate this. The new plant will be tested at Brussels Airport next year in collaboration with Skytanking.

TaxiBots enable taxiing aircraft to make use of biodiesel instead of their own engines, actively reducing CO2 emissions. This type of TaxiBot will be tested on site at Brussels Airport next year, to assess the benefits and operation of this new machinery.

Budapest Airport will continue to work on the provision of electric charging infrastructure and on investigating the potential and supply of biofuels. Athens International Airport is also pursuing various electrification initiatives, including a proof of concept for their “Airside Operations” and “Wildlife control.” Aéroport de Toulouse-Blagnac will meanwhile work on an operational biofuel supply chain and launch a study to assess the potential for the autonomous operation of airports on 100% renewable energy.

The Stargate consortium partners are Athens International Airport, Budapest Airport, Aéroport de Toulouse-Blagnac, Brussels Airlines, TUI, DHL Aviation, Engie Laborelec, Air Cargo Belgium, Skytanking, skeyes, To70, Lux Mobility, University of Hasselt, Erasmus Centre for Urban, Port and Transport Economics, IES R&D, Sopra Steria, Province of Flemish Brabant, Quatra, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), NMBS and the Flanders Institute for Logistics.

This project has received subsidies from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under subsidy agreement GA101037053.

Source: Brussels Airport