GASHCo takes on Mercedes-Benz Sprinters to keep Gatwick Airport planes flying

Two specially equipped Mercedes-Benz Sprinters have been taken on at London Gatwick Airport to maintain its network of aviation fuel hydrants.

The 5.0-tonne chassis cabs were supplied to Gatwick Airport Storage and Hydrant Company (GASHCo) by Rossetts Commercials, which represents Mercedes-Benz Vans in Sussux, Surrey and North Hampshire.

Both are Sprinter 516 CDI models and their bodies were built by sector specialist Flightline Support, of Witney, Oxfordshire.

Gatwick Airport has 320 hydrants housed in pits beneath the apron surface, from which mobile vehicles draw fuel to refill aircraft tanks.

GASHCo is responsible for cleaning and drying these hydrants at regular intervals.

For the past 20 years the company has operated a single Sprinter to carry out these duties.

GASHCO’s decision to invest in two new vehicles reflects a significant increase in airport traffic, which has resulted in a rise in demand for its service.

GASHCo handled more than 1.8 billion litres of fuel last year.

Its new Sprinters are fitted with high-pressure jet-washing systems, air-drying lances and vacuum pumps to suck out any fluid that has gathered around the hydrants, as well as stainless steel tanks for clean and dirty water.

The hydraulic system which controls these is configured so that the jet-wash and vacuum pumps can be operated simultaneously.

Each vehicle also carries special equipment to draw off fuel samples, which can then be analysed to ensure there is no contamination.

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