Gulfstream Aerospace has opened an in-flight support center as part of its customer support call center. The call center, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, handles an average of 60,000 calls per month.
The call center now has three flight-deck graphical flight simulators (GFS), which allow a technical specialist to induce operational and maintenance-related faults to mirror what the customer is seeing in real time in the field. FlightSafety International manufactures the devices at its Broken Arrow, Okla., facility.
“We’ve discussed this idea for a couple of years,” Mitch Choquette, director of customer support for Gulfstream product support, told AIN. “Our customers use the same tool when they go through training at FlightSafety. Our tech specialists are now using it to support our customers in the field and it significantly enhances our support capability.”
Choquette said the call center’s approximately 40 technicians have an average of more than 25 years’ experience. “They’re really sharp, but having a GFS at their disposal greatly enhances their response time. Instead of poring over schematics to understand what the customer is seeing in the field, they can go to the GFS and see it for themselves in real time. We’re also getting a lot of calls from technicians at our own service facilities and authorized service facilities. They have always called our tech ops people for help, but this raises our ability to assist them to a new level.”
Gulfstream’s first GFS arrived at the call center in January and went operational in February. Since then two more have been installed. One graphic simulator is for large-cabin PlaneView-equipped aircraft to support the G450/G550/G650; one for classic aircraft to support the GIV/GV; and one for mid-cabin aircraft, to support the G100/G150/G200.
The three cube-shaped simulators in the in-flight support center feature 10 to 12 LCD touch-screen monitors with displays of the aircraft’s cockpit, instrument panel and pedestal. Using a computer and Windows-based software, the graphic simulators offer the tactile experience of a much larger full-motion simulator, including warning indicator sounds and flight displays that change as inputs are made.
According to Choquette, the service is not exclusive to aircraft under warranty. “Operators of classic Gulfstream aircraft who call or e-mail the call center are not charged for general information or on-the-spot troubleshooting,” he said. “Support for them includes assistance from a tech ops specialist who may also use the in-flight support center.
“Some assistance arranged through the call center is chargeable. For instance, if an operator damages an aircraft, contacts the call center and is put in contact with an engineer, or is given input that requires an engineer, that service is chargeable,” Choquette said.
In addition to the simulators, the center features a projector, a 9.5-foot projection screen and two 46-inch, high-definition monitors equipped with fleet-tracking software.