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Purpose-built Mercedes-Benz Sprinters keep the fuel flowing at Gatwick Airport

Purpose-built Mercedes-Benz Sprinters keep the fuel flowing at Gatwick Airport

Two specially equipped Mercedes-Benz Sprinters are playing a key role in keeping planes flying from Gatwick Airport, by cleaning and maintaining its extensive 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 Sussex, Surrey and North Hampshire.

Both are Sprinter 516 CDI models, and powered by 163 bhp four-cylinder engines. Their bodies were built by sector specialist Flightline Support, of Witney, Oxfordshire, and were fitted with an array of bespoke equipment used by GASHCo’s crews to carry out their vital work.

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, so they are always ready for use.

For the last 20 years the company has operated a single Sprinter to carry out these duties. GASHCO’s decision to invest in two new vehicles reflected a significant increase in Airport traffic, which had resulted in a rise in demand for the company’s service.

“Our last Mercedes-Benz was exceptionally reliable, a fantastic workhorse,” recalled Operations Supervisor Richard Jeffrey. “These vehicles cover very few miles, but the engines are running constantly because they also power all of our ancillary equipment.”

Mr Jeffrey continued: “Aside from its proven durability, the Sprinter also ticks all of our boxes in terms of its specification. We need a 5.0-tonne chassis to cope with the weight of the body, and everything that’s on it, as well as a direct-drive power take-off to run it all. Very few other vehicles meet these requirements.

"The fuel system that we look after is crucial to keep the airport’s business moving, so our maintenance vehicles must be 100% reliable. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offers the robust build quality and longevity we need, as well as being safe and comfortable for our operatives. Given our experience over the last two decades, this vehicle can be trusted to do the job.”