A ground power unit is an essential tool used in modern aviation. Their main function is to supply grounded aircraft with power. Energy from an electric generator is contained within the GPU and is connected to the aircraft thus providing the plane the power it needs while on the ground without depleting its battery. Depending on the purpose and the type of plane it is being used for, a GPU can look like a small box or a large unit mounted onto a truck.
A common use of a ground power unit is to mount it upon a vehicle which provides it the mobility it needs to be used while an aircraft is being taxied on or off the runway. A GPU has enough power to allow the crew full access to the plane’s avionics. This is quite handy during pilot training. A GPU can help create a low-pressure environment which triggers events on the air plane’s avionics and provides a pilot in training the ability to learn how to read and use the cockpit equipment while the plane remains on the ground. This helps a pilot get comfortable with all of the instruments before ever taking off into the sky.
This is also referred to as chair flying. It is one thing to study in a book and learn how to fly a plane, it is another thing to actually sit in the cockpit and experience it with the safety of knowing you are still on the ground. This ability to have better familiarity helps develop productive muscle memory for a pilot and relevant practice time to improve his or her flying technique even better than using a simulator.
Using a ground power unit for this training exercise provides the plane the power it needs to run all of its instruments without draining the battery it needs for actual flight or rely on the plane’s engines to maintain power. This actually provides a rather energy efficient solution for chair flying training. To be even more energy efficient, a plane can be powered with a gas electric hybrid GPU. Much like gas electric hybrid cars, this reduces fuel costs even more and helps to reduce the amount carbon emissions airports release into the atmosphere.
Ground power is readily available in most airports. It is effective and practical in use. Without having to rely on the jet engines, a GPU reduces fuel costs and noise pollution as well has air pollution normally produced by an aircraft just sitting or being taxied on the runway.