GE Aviation is planning to invest $27 million and add up to 70 jobs over the next five years at its Newark, Delaware facility.The facility, which currently employs 80, manufactures advanced aircraft engine components made of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs).
The planned investment will allow GE to develop a ‘Lean Lab’ at its Newark operation. Lean Labs have become a staple of GE manufacturing, allowing for collaboration between engineering and manufacturing. The teams work together to demonstrate a component’s manufacturing readiness before needing to scale for full rate production. Production technologies for CMC components will be developed and proven out in Newark prior to transitioning to manufacturing facilities for mass production.
Demand for CMC components in jet engines is expected to grow tenfold over the next decade, CMCs are a differentiator in GE’s next-generation aircraft engines. These advanced materials are key to achieving higher fuel efficiency, lower emissions and improved environmental performance in aircraft engines by allowing them to run hotter.
GE has committed to incorporating CMCs into the LEAP jet engine, being developed by CFM International, a joint company of GE and Snecma (SAFRAN) of France. The LEAP engine, which will enter airline service in 2016, will power the new Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX, and COMAC (China) C919 aircraft. This will mark the first time ever that CMCs will be used in a commercial engine. GE and Safran will continue to look into CMC usage in engine platforms beyond the LEAP engine.
The companies GE9X engine has been selected by Boeing for its future 777X aircraft program. The GE9X, currently under development, is also expected to feature several CMC components.