General Dynamics adds to its presence at DAL

 - April 25, 2008, 7:25 AM

Most pilots flying into Dallas Love Field (DAL) are probably not accustomed to seeing “General Dynamics” emblazoned on a civil hangar, but the defense contractor isn’t that new to general aviation. It did own Cessna Aircraft from 1985 until it was sold to Textron seven years later, and three years ago it acquired Gulfstream Aerospace.

The presence in Dallas is the General Dynamics Aviation Services (GDAS) facility, which formally opened its newly constructed hangar in late June. The 25,000-sq-ft addition nearly doubles the floor space of the facility, which is dedicated to Gulfstream, Challenger, Hawker and Falcon maintenance and major refurbishment.

To supplement its five existing service centers, GD subsidiary Gulfstream purchased the former Signature Flight Support Regional Main- tenance Center operation 17 months ago, which in addition to the Dallas facility included operations at Las Vegas, Minneapolis, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Westfield, Mass.

“When General Dynamics acquired Gulfstream Aerospace, they began looking for opportunities to expand,” explained Larry Flynn,  president of GDAS. Flynn is also Gulfstream vice president of aircraft services and in charge of the service centers. “One of the areas is the maintenance side of the business. We purchased the Signature regional maintenance centers and rebranded them under the GDAS banner and market presence at five airports.”

Gulfstream also acquired the former K-C Aviation facility at Love Field, so Flynn is responsible for two separate entities on the same airport, and wouldn’t be adverse to a third, possibly at another area airport, “if it made business sense.”

In August last year, GDAS expanded the Minneapolis operation with a new 57,000-sq-ft hangar at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), and a month later launched an initiative to improve product support for owners of midsize and super-midsize aircraft. Teaming with the company service centers, GDAS developed a maintenance-training curriculum, enrolling 150 technicians, and acquired support equipment and parts. By the end of the year, all GDAS centers were certified for repairs and inspections on all Gulfstream jets, including the G100 and G200.

In addition, all five GDAS centers received the FAA’s prestigious Diamond Certificate of Excellence Award. The award signified that at least 25 percent of employees at each location had completed at least 100 hr of initial or recurring training during the year.

“We are the only chain of maintenance service companies in the U.S. that has that award at every location,” Flynn said. “That includes the five GDAS operations and the five Gulfstream Service Centers.”

“We’re starting to see the market come back,” he observed. “We will be adding about 12 percent more people here over the next 30 to 60 days.” The Dallas location currently has just over 100 employees. “But,” he added, “it will hold another 100 to 150. What we typically do is open a new hangar and get it going a full three shifts, seven days a week, and then start looking for more hangar space.”