3 Reasons to Buy a Helicopter Tug With a Built-in Ground Power Unit
Ask any helicopter pilot and they’ll tell you that when it comes to managing their rotorcraft, efficiency, safety, and cost-effectiveness are paramount. They understand that every aspect of their operation needs to run smoothly, and this includes ground handling.
That’s exactly where a helicopter tug with a built-in Ground Power Unit (GPU) comes into play. But before we get to that, let’s quickly cover the difference between an APU and a GPU for those who are unfamiliar.
What is a Helicopter Auxiliary Power Unit?
An auxiliary power unit (APU) is a small, self-contained power unit that is integrated into the design of some helicopters—typically only in larger models—in the tail section or another designated area. Its primary purpose is to provide electrical power to various onboard systems when the main engines are not running.
Helicopter APUs are used to start the main engines, maintain cabin temperature, provide power to essential avionics, and run other critical systems while the aircraft is on the ground or in situations where the main engines are shut down.
What is a Helicopter Ground Power Unit?
On the other hand, a helicopter GPU is an external power source used on the ground to provide electrical power when the aircraft is parked in a hangar or out on the tarmac. They are not part of the aircraft’s internal systems and are usually standalone units that connect to the aircraft via power cables.
GPUs are primarily used for smaller helicopters that do not have a built-in APU and provide many of the same functions, such as routine maintenance and other pre-flight preparations. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s delve into the top three reasons why investing in a helicopter tug equipped with a GPU can be total a game-changer for your flight operations.
1. Less Strain On Your Helicopter Battery
Prolonged use of your helicopter’s APU on the ground can lead to unnecessary strain and reduce its overall lifespan. However, when you have a helicopter tug with a built-in GPU, you can significantly reduce this strain.
The integrated GPU acts as an external power source, allowing you to start the helicopter’s engines without draining its onboard battery. This means your helicopter is always ready for takeoff, and you won’t encounter unexpected battery issues that can disrupt or delay your operations.
2. A More Streamlined Ground Handling Process
Traditionally, helicopter owners would purchase a standalone GPU to provide power when they are on the ground. This means additional equipment, cables, manpower, etc. But with an integrated GPU in the tug, you eliminate the need for this extra equipment and significantly reduce your setup time.
This one-stop solution also enhances your mobility and versatility. Chopper Spotter’s helicopter tugs are compact, easy to maneuver, and can be used in a variety of settings, from busy helipads to remote locations. This versatility is particularly valuable for operators who need to access different types of helicopters or move them within limited spaces.
3. Significant Cost Savings
Investing in separate ground power units and tugs can be very costly, even for a large-scale operation. Depending on your helicopter’s power needs, a standalone GPU can set you back anywhere from $1,000 for a small 35-amp unit to over $45,000 for 400 amps. By opting for a helicopter tug with an integrated GPU, you can significantly reduce the cost of ownership.
However, when you factor in the true cost of ownership, you need to consider not just the initial purchase but also maintenance and operational expenses. If you have fewer pieces of equipment to maintain and replace, you can free up valuable space in your budget—and hangar—for other essential equipment.
Chopper Spotter—Your All-in-One Ground Handling Solution
From streamlining processes and reducing costs to preserving your helicopter’s battery lifespan, the advantages of a helicopter tug with a built-in GPU are clear. So, when considering your next equipment upgrade, keep in mind this integrated solution—it might just be the key to unlocking a smoother and more efficient ground-handling experience for your helicopters.
When you purchase a Chopper Spotter, you’re not just getting a helicopter mover—you’re also getting a fully portable GPU! Auxiliary power receptacles come standard on the Model 4 and Model MS and are optional on the Model E. All you need to do is purchase an APU power cord (sold separately).
Since 1989, we have provided this world-leading ground-handling capability from our facility right here in the U.S. For anyone with a helicopter, from hospitals and police departments to military organizations and private operations, we deliver full and total on-the-ground control so you can move and position your aircraft exactly as you need to.
Request a quote today to start experiencing the ease and maneuverability of the industry’s best ground-handling equipment.