Gulfstream Ponders Further Support Network Additions
FARNBOROUGH—Gulfstream Aerospace says it is bolstering its network of support centers and will look at possibly adding further satellite locations should demand dictate.
Derek Zimmerman, head of customer support at the jet-maker, says the company will continue to evaluate the market to see where the fleet grows. As it stands, the aircraft manufacturer is buoyant about the current business jet market. Fleet flying hours have reached all-time highs with a full recovery from the pandemic occurring late last year and continuing into 2022.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Farnborough, England-based service center it opened in 2020, he said that specific facility will continue as its leading site in Europe—but the OEM may look at some satellite locations to add to its network should growth continue. “We look at every region of the world that exact same way,” he said. Gulfstream operates 12 facilities in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
Over the past few years, Gulfstream has invested heavily in its support network. Zimmerman cited investments in U.S. locations including a new distribution center and paint facility at its main base in Savannah, Georgia.
Gulfstream opened its newest facility at Fort Worth Alliance Airport in Texas in early July, and Zimmerman said it recently broke ground on an additional 60,000 ft.2 hangar in Mesa, Arizona, which he expects will open in the second half of 2023. “Much like Farnborough is for the U.K. and Europe, Mesa will be our crown jewel facility for a service in the western U.S.,” he says.
In preparation for the facility, he says the company has already begun adding staff. “We built a significant workforce there already, and almost 100 employees are already based at that location working out of existing hangars,” he said. “We'll continue to invest in and grow that workforce as we prepare for the grand opening of that facility next year.”
Zimmerman said that while the company is not immune to some of the supply chain challenges currently troubling the industry, it has managed to weather these by adopting strategies such as heavy investment in spare parts to offset sourcing issues.
At the same briefing, Gulfstream said it is on course to lift operational restrictions on its G500 and G600 jets by September, when it expects to have validated a software fix for the G500’s fly-by-wire flight controls.
The G500 and G600 were both affected by an FAA-issued airworthiness directive in early May, owing to two hard landings by the G500 the previous month. The manufacturer has since been working with the regulator to issue a software fix and says this week it will begin flying with the FAA to validate the software.