KC-46 U.S. Supplier Spotlight: Farwest Aircraft
Pacific, Wash. --- Less than 25 miles south of Boeing’s Military Delivery Center – where the KC-46A Pegasus flies to U.S. Air Force bases around the country – a small business helps keep the world’s most advanced multi-mission tanker in the skies.
Farwest Aircraft supports the KC-46 program by manufacturing ground support equipment and tooling for the Pegasus. Frank Gutfrucht, Farwest’s president and chief operating officer, vividly remembers the day Boeing tapped his company with the contract.
“That was a milestone achievement for Farwest Aircraft and I’m very proud to be a part of the team that made it happen,” Gutfrucht said.
Farwest can also hang its hat on supporting the U.S. military’s global mission by supporting this program. That means a great deal to its employees, including general manager Paul Luccio and mechanical assembler Erin Anderson.
“Playing a small part in making sure the tools are available to keep our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters safe while they're doing their jobs, it really is important to me,” Luccio said.
“I take a lot of pride in building parts for our country,” Anderson said. “Coming from a military family, it makes me feel good to let them know that I am supporting our country even though I'm not serving.”
Anderson singlehandedly assembles multiple components for the KC-46A, including a spring compressor used to compress the tanker’s boom pedal door springs and a dolly for the auxiliary power unit. He is in his 35th year with the company.
“It’s been a pleasure to work here,” he said.
Luccio credits Farwest’s Pacific Northwest location for attracting and retaining talented workers like Anderson.
“Being the fact that we’re in the Seattle area, we have a large talent pool that has a heritage of more than 100 years of people working in aerospace,” Luccio said.
Under the same roof, electrical assembly technician Steve Marcil gives back to the men and women he once served alongside. The U.S. Air Force veteran worked as a maintainer during his 12-year service career. Now, he builds and tests electrical ground support equipment for the KC-46A Pegasus.
“My personal goal is to make sure that all of the ground support equipment that we build here is the best stuff that all of the flight line maintainers in the Air Force could need,” Marcil continued, “because it’s their job to make sure the KC-46A is mission-ready for all of its Global Reach missions.”
Founded in 1967, Farwest Aircraft is one of more than 650 suppliers in communities nationwide that deliver parts to support the KC-46A tanker. These businesses combine to employ more than 37,000 American workers.
Gutfrucht emphasized how important the aircraft is to the lifeblood of his company.
“We care about this program. It means security for our employees. It means a future for our employees,” Gutfrucht said. “And it also means continued development and growth for our company and our suppliers as well.”
“This aircraft is part of Farwest. Or we are, better said, part of the aircraft.”