GE Aviation have hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of its new advanced composites factory near Asheville in Western North Carolina.
GE Aviation’s Sanjay Correa, Vice President, Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC) Program and Mike Kauffman, Senior Executive, Composites Manufacturing were joined by Governor Pat McCrory and officials from the Asheville Area Chamber, Buncombe County, City of Asheville and NC Department of Commerce to commemorate the groundbreaking.
The new 170,000-square-foot facility will be the first in the world to mass produce engine components made of advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials. GE will begin hiring at the new CMC components plant in 2014. Within five years, the workforce at the plant is expected to grow to more than 340 people.
The existing workforce at GE Aviation’s current machining operation in Asheville will gradually transition to the CMC components plant.
The introduction of CMC components into the hot section of GE jet engines represents a significant technology breakthrough for GE and the jet propulsion industry. CMCs are made of silicon carbide ceramic fibres and ceramic resin, manufactured through a highly sophisticated process and further enhanced with proprietary coatings, GE plans to introduce more CMC components into future engine development programs.
The specific CMC component to be built in the new Asheville facility is a high-pressure turbine shroud, this component will be on the best-selling LEAP jet engine, being developed by CFM International, a joint company of GE and Snecma (SAFRAN) of France and will mark the first time CMCs are used for a commercial application. The LEAP engine, which will enter airline service in 2016, will power the new Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX and COMAC (China) C919 aircraft.
US Congressmen Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows also welcomed GE’s growth in North Carolina.
The groundbreaking is a great day for Asheville and Western North Carolina. GE Aviation’s commitment to manufacture CMC components in Asheville is a tremendous boon for our area. I look forward to visiting the plant when it is completed next year.
GE Aviation has the largest and fastest-growing installed base of jet engines in commercial aviation and a global services network to support them.