Long Beach Airport: How airlines keep planes cool


Do you recognize the contraption pictured above?

Perhaps not. But if you fly, especially in hot weather, it’s probably very important to you. That machine, seen here at Long Beach Airport, pipes in cold air to airplanes on the ground.

The system keeps planes from having to run their auxiliary power units, or APUs, which burn jet fuel and are not particularly efficient. I’m told the yellow tubing sends cold air directly onto the the aircraft.

Adding preconditioned air at each parking position was a recent priority for the airport, according to this recent overview of LGB’s capital improvement plan. It might seem a bit low tech to run a yellow tube all the way to the plane, but I understand this is considerbly cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the alternatives.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is in the process of adding preconditioned air at all of its gates, according to this USA Today report. Reporter Ben Mutzabaugh writes that the airport has a centralized plant that will eventually distribute hot and cold air to each of the facility’s 73 gates. The system has 15 miles of ducts. 

Read more on Seattle’s program – and watch a video – at this site. 

Special thanks to @chasethesun and @petersandersla for teaching me about preconditioned air.

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