Gulfstream Aerospace has strengthened its Latin American customer support network with the official opening yesterday of its new maintenance facility at Bertram Luiz Leupolz Airport in Sorocaba, around 37 miles (60 km) west of São Paulo. The 38,000-sq-ft (3,530-sq-m) facility is large enough to house four large-cabin and three mid-cabin aircraft simultaneously.
“The demand for Gulfstream aircraft in Brazil was the catalyst for establishing a company-owned maintenance facility in Sorocaba, Brazil, in June 2012,” according to the company. In fact the building was formerly operated by Gulfstream’s General Dynamics sister company Jet Aviation. Gulfstream took full control of the facility last month.
“We have received substantial positive feedback from customers about how much better our location is at Sorocaba airport,” said Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream Product Support, who oversaw the new development. The company’s other main international facilities (outside the U.S.) are in London (Luton Airport) and Beijing.
Here at the LABACE show, Gulfstream is exhibiting examples of its entire product range. AIN flew from Sorocaba into the show site at Congonhas Airport in the company’s flagship G650, which has joined the G550, G450, G280 and G150 on the static display.
Fabio Rebello, Gulfstream’s new regional vice president, international sales for Latin America (in a newly created role after it was separated out of the Asia-Pacific sales role), said that the company’s fleet in the region had grown by 70 percent since 2009, with almost 180 aircraft now based here compared to 105 only five years ago. Mexico has the highest number of Gulfstream aircraft in the region, with 80, and there are more than 30 Gulfstreams based in Venezuela. However it is in Brazil that the growth has really taken off, going from 14 aircraft in 2009 to 40 now (12 mid-size and 28 large-cabin models). He added that nearly half of the large-cabin business jets based in Latin America are manufactured by Gulfstream, including 30 percent of the large-cabin jets in Brazil.
The company is now working toward certification of its new G650ER in the fourth quarter of this year. The new extended range model was announced at EBACE in Geneva this past May. A Gulfstream spokesman confirmed that, “performance of the [aircraft] has already been demonstrated…we have completed all performance flight testing and we are now doing the airplane flight manual modifications. We have confirmed that there is no need for any significant structural changes e.g. for flutter, or for stronger landing gear.” Space for the additional 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg) of fuel was already available in the 650’s wing tanks, he added.
Rebello told AIN that already there have already been 650ERs sold in Latin America, both new aircraft and as retrofit to existing 650s. The conversion costs $2 million and “involves one week of downtime.”
Here in São Paulo this week, Gulfstream also is marking 10 years since the G450 model entered service.