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Alaska Airlines ramps up its use of solar power

August 11, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • Alaska Airlines is testing solar-powered passenger ramps.
Alaska Airlines is testing solar-powered passenger ramps. (Alaska Airlines )

The green trend is taking hold in the airline industry.

United Airlines announced plans in June to buy 15 million gallons of lower-carbon, renewable jet fuel over a three-year period. 

And Alaska Airlines is testing solar-powered passenger ramps.

The new mobile ramps, used to get passengers on and off planes, are equipped with solar panels that power the batteries that drive the ramps’ electric motors. Traditional mobile ramps and passenger stairs are powered by gasoline or diesel engines.

Alaska has been testing the ramps at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the solar ramps can be plugged into an electrical outlet, said Michael Keith, sales manager for Oregon-based Keith Consolidated Industries, which built the ramps.

“They are extremely efficient,” he said of the ramps. “There is a lot of savings, not just in fuel but in emissions as well.”

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