April 13, 2020
Three very different companies involved in business aviation – a global aerospace conglomerate, a Utah-based winglet manufacturer and a pool supply company from Youngstown, OH – have something in common: they’re all going above and beyond to supply personal protection equipment (PPE) for use by medical personnel combating the COVID-19 virus.
GLI Pool Products
Gary Crandall flies an Eclipse 500 light jet in support of his company, GLI Pool Products of Youngstown, OH. When area hospitals began to face a shortage of protective masks, the company pivoted from its usual manufacturing of pool liners and other products to instead cut and sew PPE face masks for hospitals and first responders.
Crandall said he first reached out to state and local officials for ways he could help, but he didn’t get the response he wanted. “They said, ‘we’ll put you on a list.’” he explained. “Our local hospital told us they needed 100,000 masks, so I took a couple of folks here and researched how we could build surgical masks.”
From there, GLI got to work cutting the needed materials. “It takes hospital volunteers around five minutes to cut a single mask,” Crandall said. “We can do it in roughly a half-second.”
While GLI’s sewing machines were adapted to the more delicate stitching needed for the masks, the company also enlisted volunteers and provided them with sewing kits to speed the process.
“We had a line of home sewers around the block picking up 10, 20, even 500 kits,” he said. “They sew them up and drop them back off with us.”
In addition to supplying the hospital, GLI has also made masks available to fire and police departments and other first responders.
“We can’t sustain this as a long-term plan, but I think we can do it long enough to turn the corner on this crisis,” Crandall said. “There are many ways our business aviation community can help out, and I’d encourage everyone to see what they can do.”
Sandpoint, UT-based Tamarack Aerospace produces Atlas winglets for Cessna CitationJets. When company officials learned their local hospital faced PPE shortages, Tamarack used its connections in China to help the hospital source 2,400 N95 masks to fill the hospital’s immediate need.
With an eye toward the hospital’s longer-term needs, Tamarack also repurposed its 3D printers to produce specialized masks. Through April 9, the company has produced 60 “Montana Masks,” developed by doctors in Billings, MT and featuring a small industrial filter element providing equivalent protection to N95 masks. Other company employees are helping to sew cloth facemasks to protect hospital employees.
“I am proud to be a part of a community where friends, neighbors and businesses come together in times of need,” said Nathan Cropper, Tamarack’s chief engineer. “We have a team of talented and generous people who are excited to take on this challenge.”
Boeing also recently announced it will leverage its 3D printing capabilities at facilities across the United States to manufacture face shields to help protect medical workers who are on the front lines fighting the virus.
To date, Boeing has donated tens of thousands of masks, gloves and other equipment to hospitals in need. Additionally, Boeing officials are considering several other ways they can use the company’s engineering, manufacturing and logistics expertise to help the cause.
Boeing also has made its Dreamlifter, a converted Boeing 747-400 freighter used to transport wing sections and other large parts to support 787 production, to help deliver critical and urgently needed supplies to healthcare professionals.