Gulfstream Aerospace has been making major investments of its own to boost customer support in China. In November 2012 the U.S. manufacturer opened the country’s first factory-owned business jet service center at Beijing Capital International Airport.
The joint venture with Hainan Airlines Group subsidiaries Hainan Aviation Technik and Deer Jet recently received Part 145 approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The 104,000-sq-ft facility is staffed by factory-trained Gulfstream and Deer Jet technical staff and can draw on additional spare parts stocks that the OEM holds in both Hong Kong and Singapore.
As of late March, the Gulfstream Beijing facility had serviced approximately 40 aircraft since opening. This total included situations in which the company has sent one or more FAA-certified technicians to assist U.S.-based operators in other Chinese cities, such as Shanghai.
“We have made a great deal of progress training the Chinese members of our technical staff at Gulfstream Beijing,” said Gulfstream Product Support president Mark Burns. “Their training on Gulfstream aircraft started in the late spring of 2010 and hasn’t stopped. For well over a year our U.S.-based technicians who accepted an assignment in Beijing did not actually work on aircraft. They were there to train our Chinese partners from Deer Jet and Hainan Aviation Technik.”
Currently, Gulfstream has a mix of 16 electrical and mechanical technicians on the staff in Beijing, and 12 of them are employed by its Chinese partners and are CAAC-certified. The other four are FAA-certified Gulfstream employees.
By the end of 2012, the number of Gulfstream aircraft based in mainland China had reached 61–up from just five back in 2007. The company now claims more than a 50-percent market share in the segments it serves.
Eventually, the manufacturer intends to get Gulfstream Beijing approved as an FAA Part 145 foreign repair station, but this will be contingent on the U.S. Congress lifting its ban on FAA approving more of these facilities, which is dependent on the Transportation Security Administration issuing new security rules. “We can support N-registered aircraft anywhere in China with our FAA-certified technicians,” Burns told AIN. “Over the last four or five months, they have made several road trips to support operators in AOG situations.”
The new facility’s existing CAAC approval covers work on the G550, the G450 and the G200, accounting for most of the Gulfstream types currently operating in China. Later this year, the company aims to extend its Chinese certification to cover the new G650 long-range jet, as well as the G280, the GV and the GIV.
Also, last November, Gulfstream established a flight department in Hong Kong, staffed by five experienced demonstration pilots who are available to support owners and operators throughout the Asia Pacific region. Part of their role is to assist with training programs, which has been enhanced by the recent addition of full-flight simulators for the G550 and GIV models at the FlightSafety Learning Center in Hong Kong.