Fleet of 7 GVs brings Hewlett-Packard execs face to face with global customers

Belief in business jet travel pays off for HP with burgeoning computer sales and profits.

By Grant McLaren

Aviation group personnel include 17 pilots and 9 maintenance technicians, as well as 4 flight attendants and 4 schedulers. In keeping with Hewlett-Packard's philosophy of encouraging ongoing professional development, many team members are cross trained and certified.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) flight operations provide world-class solutions for global corporate travel with over 50% of flight activity overseas. A fleet of 7 Gulfstream Vs—5 based at SJC (San Jose CA) and 2 at TKI (McKinney TX)—take business on the road, anywhere in the world, for up to weeks at a time. The focus here is not only on hiring the very best personnel to manage fast paced international capabilities but to develop talent for deeper overall strength within the entire aviation group.

Equipment capability requirements to support end-to-end safety and security of HP's wide-ranging missions, led to evolution of the current 7-strong all-GV fleet. "We use corporate aircraft to grow the HP brand and to maximize global resilience in responding to emerging markets, short notice international travel needs and global opportunities," says Dir Global Resiliency/ Aviation Richard Walsh.

"While we focus on a sophisticated infrastructure to provide the right global transportation solutions the key element here is developing talent. Corporations today are looking for more and more resources out of their divisions and we've found that crossfunctional expertise and ongoing professional development bring measurable value to the organization," he says. At HP you'll find pilots who are certified mechanics, schedulers who serve as international cruise pilots and mechanics who do double duty as flight attendants.

Flight department team includes 17 pilots, 9 mechanics, 4 schedulers and 4 flight attendants. Whenever a new employee is hired the objective is to find a candidate with potential to become a division manager.

A focus on safety is supported by continually enriching the safety management system (SMS) in order to make better decisions ranging from policies and procedures to risk assessment. Flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) is used to provide flight operations metrics while IS-BAO (certification achieved in 2008) audits reinforce continuous improvement throughout the organization. This is a flight department that's constantly in growth mode.

Chief Pilot John Swaney explains that a common fleet type—all ultralong-range equipment—maximizes both overall efficiency and overseas operational dexterity. "The capability to dispatch to other continents, without fuel stops and additional provisioning, provides the re­silience that our company requires," he says. "A common fleet type facilitates more efficient scheduling, training and maintenance.

The capabilities we have with our GVs provide more options in managing the many unforeseen security requirements in a changing world and handling occasional surges in international activity."

Constant global ops, launched on relatively short notice at times, are SOP for HP. Not long ago 6 GVs were dispatched simultaneously to 4 continents. "As soon as they returned 6 GVs were dispatched simultaneously to Asian destinations," says Systems Ops Control Mgr Tom Collins who is a licensed dispatcher and in charge of HP's scheduling department. "We benefit greatly in terms of schedule flexibility in having single-type international equipment."

While typical HP intercontinental missions run 2–8 days multiweek sorties are also supported. All 7 GVs are equip­ped with crew rest bunks, en­hanced vision systems (EVS), head-up guidance systems (HGS), electronic charts and fast satcom datalinks. Over the next couple of years all primary flightdeck displays will be upgraded from CRTs to synthetic vision capable Honey­well Plane­Deck DU885 LCD panels, FMSs will be updated to WAAS-capable Honeywell FMS 6.1s and higher-speed datalinks will become a reality fleetwide.

Building a business

Hewlett-Packard products. (Top L–R) HP 2009v and monitor, HDX 16t laptop, TouchSmart IQ800-series PC and CM1312nfi color laserjet printer. (Bottom L–R) Pavilion tx1000 laptop, HP Vivienne Tam notebook and H470 mobile printer.

Hewlett-Packard's history spans more than 7 decades of innovation. Electrical engineers Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded HP in 1939 working out of a garage with 1st-year sales of $5369. First product was the HP model 200 oscillator of which 8 were sold to The Walt Disney Company to calibrate audio systems for the movie Fantasia.

HP became a publicly traded company in 1957, made Fortune magazine's list of top 500 US companies in 1962 and produced its first computer—the HP 2116A—in 1966. A merger with Compaq Computer in 2002, and acquisition of Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 2008, dramatically expanded HP operations, especially in the international arena.

Today HP has over 300,000 em­ployees, operations in more than 120 countries, annual sales of over $126 billion and about 65% of revenues derived overseas. The organization is so big and wide­spread that it is affected by virtually any event that takes place around the globe. Two HP employees were aboard the US Airways Airbus A320 that put down in the Hudson River in 2009 and more than 2000 HP employees were stranded in Europe after recent volcanic activity in Iceland.

Moving geographically scattered personnel efficiently and safely around the world 24/7 has been critical in keeping HP on the leading edge of international growth opportunities. "Overseas opportunities can happen quickly in this business and our aircraft are always in the air—often to emerging market destinations," says VP of Global Security Robert Moore.

"We utilize our fleet to facilitate time management and enroute productivity as well as to maximize safety and security. There are very few parts of the world we will not fly to but we're very focused on risk assessment and we do encounter showstopper situations from time to time."

He continues, "We see new international opportunities developing in regions such as Africa and some higher-risk areas overseas. For the immediate future the GV is the right platform for us but we're always evaluating options—including longer-range Gulfstream G650s."

Flight department evolution

While HP traces flight department roots back almost 40 years the most dramatic changes in aviation department growth have occurred in recent years. In 1973 Bill Hewlett was riding with the chairman of FMC Corp aboard a Rockwell Sabre 40 when he learned that the west coast division of FMC flight ops was to be shut down.

"Mr Hewlett agreed to a turnkey takeover of FMC flight department's west coast ops, complete with pilots, mechanics and the Sabreliner," says Capt Kevin Lynch who joined HP's flight department 25 years ago as one of 16 corporate pilots.


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