Flight International Online News 11:00GMT: Gulfstream Aerospace is confident of receiving full maintenance approvals for its current product range at its European facility by early next year, as the company hints at further non-US expansion.

Gulfstream's London Luton airport service centre was acquired in April 2003 from Signature Air Support and previously had no Gulfstream overhaul approvals.

Over the past two years its engineers have undergone re-training and the facility has been re-certificated by the US Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency to carry out maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work for all "legacy" Gulfstream aircraft such as the G-V and G-VI superlarge range, the company says.

The company says it is "working on" extending its competence to the G450, G550 types and expects to receive approvals by the first quarter of next year with further types added over time.

The approvals represent a turnaround from Signature's MRO activity, which concentrated on Cessna Citation, Dassault Falcon Jet and Raytheon Hawker ranges.

"We've gone from zero Gulfstream to 95% of our business," says Gulfstream Luton service centre general manager Frank DeFelice.

Since acquisition Gulfstream has doubled the size of the facility from 2,600m2 (28,000ft2) to 5,200m2 and hired an additional 30 staff to take the total to 70 at the site, 50km (35miles) from central London. 

The two hangars can accommodate six aircraft simultaneously, says DeFelice.

Gulfstream declines to give specific figures for aircraft passing through the facility, but says Luton represents one of the most concentrated clusters of Gulfstreams outside the USA and the facility has captured a lot of business that was previously going to the USA. 

"I looked at the volume of Gulfstream and it's here not Farnborough, but there was also a big driver in our relationship with Signature," says Larry Flynn, Gulfstream president product support.

Gulfstream has six service centres in the USA as well as six General Dynamics Aviation Services centres working primarily on non-Gulfstream types.

Luton was the first outside the USA, although Flynn says other sites are being considered, although no final decision has been taken.

"You have to ask 'how many places can you set up a pure-Gulfstream maintenance shop?' so there would have to a concentration of aircraft in service," says Flynn.

Gulfstream has three approved service centres in Switzerland and another in Israel.

The company is also considering basing a second dedicated parts logistics aircraft in Luton to offer European customers the same dispatch service carried out with a G150 based in Savannah, Georgia, adds Flynn.

"While 80% of the fleet is in the USA, as you sell more aircraft in Europe then we would consider basing an aircraft here," he says.

The Luton facility houses around $3.2 million in spare parts, or just over 1% of the $275 million global inventory.

Gulfstream Luton is the first service centre outside the USA to receive the FAA's Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) diamond certificate of excellence.


Source: Flight International