GE Aviation Opens New Factories
New composites and super-alloy facilities mirrors trends in aircraft production. The new plant is the second composites plant in Mississippi.
On April 30, GE Aviation announced opening a composites factory in Ellisville, Mississippi. The new 340,000-square-foot facility will be referred to as GE Aviation's Ellisville Composites facility.
GE Aviation said in a press release dated April 30 that it already employs more than 450 people at a factory near Batesville in northwest Mississippi, which opened in 2008. This factory helps assembles large front fans for jet engines as well as produces composite components. GE expects hiring to reach 250 employees in Ellisville by 2017.
GE is training Ellisville employees in manufacturing processes, with assistance from the Mississippi Polymer Institute at The University of Southern Mississippi and The Advanced Technology Center at Jones County Junior College, according to the press release. The plant will deliver its first components in 2013.
According to the company, the facility will produce composite parts for two new engine programs: the LEAP jet engine being developed by CFM, a joint company of GE and Snecma (SAFRAN) of France and GE's new Passport jet engine. Ellisville will manufacture fan platforms (installed between the engine's front fan blades) for the LEAP-1A and the LEAP-1C, which will power Airbus's A320neo and COMAC'S C919 respectively. Ellisville will also manufacture the inlet for the Passport engine. Bombardier selected the Passport to power the Global 7000 and Global 8000 business jets. The inlet is a single-piece component that is located in the front of the nacelle and directs airflow into the engine.
In addition to jet engine components, Ellisville will manufacture the transcowl, a component of the thrust reverser, which is located in the rear of the nacelle for Airbus's A320neo.
The specific type of composite material that will be made at Ellisville is known as polymer matrix composites (PMCs). PMCs are made of carbon fiber fabric and polymer resin.
In related news, GE Aviation announced in a press release on April 29 the opening of its new jet engine components factory in Auburn, Alabama. The 300,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing plant will produce precision, super-alloy machined parts for GE jet engines that will power future commercial and military aircraft, and support GE jet engines already in service.
The Auburn facility will manufacture high-pressure turbine (HPT) airfoils. The plant will deliver its first parts later this year. As the facility continues to ramp up production, it is expected that the Auburn facility will contribute to every commercial jet engine family produced by GE Aviation.
GE Aviation selected Auburn in large part because of its access to a skilled work force and its proximity to Alabama's university system. According to GE Aviation, it has collaborated with Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) to develop pre-employment training programs. Southern Union State Community College (SUSCC) does the machining portion of the pre-employment training. To develop a pipeline of young talent, GE has worked with Auburn University and Tuskegee University to create internship and co-op opportunities for students.
The new Alabama facility underscores how GE Aviation is growing. According to the company, production rates are expected to grow from 3,600 commercial and military engine deliveries in 2013 to more than 3,800 deliveries in 2014.
To watch a video highlighting the Auburn facility, click here.