SAVANNAH, Ga., May 13, 2012 — Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. recently completed the 3,000th operator-assistance flight by its Field and Airborne Support Teams known as Gulfstream FAST. The mission milestone was achieved 10 years after Gulfstream launched the first-of-its-kind airborne maintenance and support service in May 2002.
Gulfstream FAST members can be dispatched by airplane, train, automobile or van to resolve maintenance issues for Gulfstream aircraft worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The team uses two dedicated aircraft to deliver flight-essential parts and/or technicians to operators whose aircraft are under warranty in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
“Our aircraft have industry-leading dispatch reliability rates, but there are times when a failure occurs,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream Product Support. “Gulfstream FAST minimizes the time a customer spends waiting for parts, repairs or technicians. It reduces return-to-service times for their aircraft, which means they can get back to using it as a productive business tool. FAST defines our commitment to the best possible customer service.”
Gulfstream has two G100s, eight pilots and 15 technicians dedicated to the FAST program. FAST also includes maintenance engineers in Europe — two in Geneva, Switzerland; one in Altenrhein, Switzerland; and one in Athens, Greece — and more than 20 mobile support vehicles throughout the U.S. and Europe.
In the case of airborne mission No. 3,000, FAST pilots Marilyn Whicker and Ademar Calligaro departed Savannah on March 24 to deliver an auxiliary power fuel control unit to a G550 at its home base, Southwest Regional Airport in Benton Harbor, Mich.
The airborne support element of FAST, formerly known as Airborne Product Support (APS), was created in 2002 after a study of transient operator destinations, home base locations and material requirements. A short-term pilot program confirmed the value and cost effectiveness of support delivered by aircraft. Research concluded that a Savannah-based G100, with its 2,950-nautical-mile-range and speed of Mach 0.84, would be the ideal aircraft to reach most airports in North America and the Caribbean without refueling. In situations where an operator’s jet is outside the G100’s range of service, Gulfstream will fly parts or technicians to a major airline hub, where they can connect to commercial flights to reach the customer’s aircraft.
“The primary objective of Gulfstream FAST is to ensure maximum availability of a customer’s aircraft,” Burns said. “Airborne support is one of the ways in which we do that.”
Behind-the-scenes logistical support for FAST includes personnel from several Gulfstream departments, such as Technical Operations, Flight Operations, Spare Part Sales and Field Service. FAST aircraft are easily identified by their livery, which includes the logos of many Gulfstream suppliers.
FAST has completed several noteworthy missions in its 10-year history of airborne support, including:
- March 2012: Completed longest mission to date, 3,266 nautical miles, to support customer in Anchorage, Alaska
- December 2010: Supported a Philadelphia-based customer with three flights within a week during holiday season to replace a rudder actuator
- August 2010: Due to a family emergency, flew Gulfstream customer attending training in Savannah to Morelia, Mexico
- April 2010: Supplier’s service bulletin prompted five flights (Toronto, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Savannah) over 13 hours by one FAST aircraft and one flight crew to support eight G200s
Of Gulfstream’s 3,000-plus FAST flights, more than 250 have been outside the continental United States. They include missions to Panama City, Bermuda, Barbados and Iqaluit, Canada.