What is GPCU on Airbus A320? (Ground Power Control Unit)

The Airbus A320 is a widely used commercial aircraft known for its efficiency and reliability. Behind its successful operation lies a range of sophisticated systems that ensure smooth functioning during different stages of flight. One such important system is the Ground Power Control Unit (GPCU), which plays a crucial role in providing power to the aircraft while it is on the ground.

The Ground Power Control Unit, or GPCU, is an integral part of the A320’s electrical system. It acts as a bridge between the external power supply from the ground and the aircraft’s onboard electrical system. This unit enables the aircraft to receive electrical power from various sources, such as ground power units or airport power grids, when it is parked at the gate or in the hangar.

Function and Importance of the Ground Power Control Unit

The GPCU is responsible for a range of crucial functions that facilitate the aircraft’s ground operations. One of its primary tasks is to control the transfer of electrical power between the external power source and the aircraft’s electrical system. By managing this transfer, it ensures that the aircraft receives a stable and regulated power supply, meeting the necessary voltage and frequency requirements.

Furthermore, the GPCU provides an interface for the ground crew to monitor and control the electrical power supply to the aircraft. This allows them to safely connect or disconnect the external power source as needed during maintenance, boarding, or other ground operations. The unit also incorporates protective features to prevent power surges or fluctuations from damaging the aircraft’s electrical components.

The GPCU is a critical component for an aircraft like the Airbus A320, as it ensures a smooth transfer of power between the ground and the aircraft’s electrical system. This not only enables the aircraft to operate its various systems and equipment but also reduces reliance on the onboard auxiliary power unit (APU) or the main engines for generating electrical power while on the ground. Consequently, it helps save fuel and reduces emissions, making the overall ground operation more efficient.

Operational Aspects of the Ground Power Control Unit

The GPCU on the Airbus A320 is typically located in the aircraft’s electrical bay, near the nose landing gear. It comprises various components, including relays, transformers, circuit breakers, and control interfaces. These components work together to ensure a smooth and seamless transfer of electrical power, without any disruptions or electrical anomalies.

The unit is equipped with an input connector for the external power source, allowing it to be connected to ground power units or airport power grids. It also features an output connector that connects to the aircraft’s electrical system via a cable harness. The GPCU incorporates several monitoring and control circuits that continuously monitor the power supply, voltage levels, and frequency to ensure they are within acceptable limits.

In the event of a power surge or inconsistency, the GPCU has protective mechanisms, such as automatic circuit breakers, to disconnect the power supply and prevent any damage to the aircraft’s electrical system. Additionally, it includes built-in diagnostics and self-testing functions to detect faults or malfunctions in the unit itself, ensuring that it remains operational and reliable.


The Ground Power Control Unit plays a vital role in providing controlled electrical power to the Airbus A320 when it is on the ground. By enabling the transfer of power from external sources, the GPCU ensures the aircraft’s systems and equipment can function efficiently, while also reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Its importance in ground operations cannot be understated, as it enables the smooth and safe handling of electrical power supply to the aircraft.

With the GPCU’s reliable and efficient operation, airlines and ground crews can effectively manage the power requirements of the Airbus A320, contributing to the overall operational success and sustainability of this popular commercial aircraft.

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