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GE Aviation’s Quick Six with Program Manager Steve Scavo

February 17, 2020 | by Hannah Roberts
From working parents to military veterans, GE would not be the company it is today without its employees. We created “Quick Six” to celebrate our diverse talent by asking employees six questions that uncover the unique ways that they contribute to GE and the world.

In our next installment of Quick Six, we sat down with Steve Scavo, Program Manager for the United States Air Force and Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy program at GE Aviation’s headquarters in Evendale, Ohio. Scavo had the unique opportunity to be filmed for an episode of Richard Hammond’s BIG! show that will feature the C-5M Super Galaxy, powered by GE CF6 engines. The episode will premiere in the United States on the Science Channel at 10p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.

Tell us about your current role at GE Aviation. Has aviation always been an interest of yours?

By the time I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to work in the aviation industry. With that in mind, I chose to go to Virginia Tech to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.

After six years of working for Pratt & Whitney in West Palm Beach, Florida, I was presented with the opportunity to work for GE Aviation at their headquarters in Evendale, Ohio. It was almost 30 years ago when I started at GE as a design engineer in the advanced exhaust systems design group. I worked my way through the exhaust system design ranks and eventually became the section manager of the production inlet and exhaust system design group that was responsible for all GE F series (F110, F101) augmenters and exhaust nozzles, the F414 inlet device and all commercial engine exhaust systems. I then became certified as an engineering division Black Belt which led to my current role as the C-5M program manager.  Initially, this role also included program manager responsibilities for the Japan Kawasaki Heavy Industry (KHI) C-2 transport program. I held both positions for approximately seven years. Before handing over the Japan C-2 program manager role, I succeeded in getting the first three years of production orders on contract with the Japan Ministry of Defense. I’ve continued in the C-5M program manager role and as the program has transitioned from flight test into sustainment so have my responsibilities, learnings, and focus.

The C-5 is the largest plane in the U.S. Air Force fleet. Image credit: Tomas Kellner for GE Reports.

What do you love about managing the C-5M Program?

I love leading teams, problem solving, working directly with our Lockheed and USAF customers and knowing that our efforts are supporting the warfighter. This program has provided me with many opportunities for all the above. In addition, the challenges associated with putting a FAA commercially certified engine on a military aircraft continue to persist to this day and require creative solutions to meet program requirements. I’ve really been grateful for the opportunity to take this program from flight test, through qualification, low rate to full rate production, entry into service and now supporting fleet operations in the field. Managing a program from the start to supporting fleet operations over the past 13 years, I can clearly see the impact of the decisions I have made over the years on the program today.

GE Aviation's Steve Scavo (right) with Richard Hammond, host of the show Richard Hammond's Big! Scavo had the unique opportunity to be filmed for the episode featuring the C-5M Super Galaxy, powered by GE CF6 engines.


Why is the GE CF6 the best engine for the C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft?

The GE CF6-80C2L1F, the full name for this particular CF6 engine, replaced the GE TF39 engine, a 1960s vintage engine. The higher thrust and improved technology of the CF6 engine is a game changer for the U.S. Air Force in terms of mobility. It allows the U.S. Air Force to leverage the more than 245,000,000 flight hours of experience that the CF6-80C2 engine has gained in commercial service so far. The aircraft’s reliability is significantly improved, its fuel burn is reduced up to 20 percent, it’s capable of greater range, increased payload, shorter takeoff and faster climb. Additionally, for humanitarian missions, these engines can help transform the aircraft into a “de facto” or “hospital in the sky”, travelling with no refuel stops while safely transporting critically injured to safety in about 18 hours as opposed to days.

There are also significant environment benefits with this engine that include 8.5 times less hydrocarbon emissions and 2.5 times less carbon monoxide emissions. CF6 engines also produce reduced noise levels: takeoff of the C-5M is three times quieter than the earlier C-5A/B. The C-5M is the first and only military aircraft to achieve Stage 4 noise compliance which allows it to take off and land at twice as many airports as its predecessor.  In fact, the CF6-80C2L1F engine is the only “GE Ecoimagination” certified engine used on a military application.

The CF6-80C2L1F engine installed on the C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft is really a match made in heaven.

You are featured in Richard Hammond’s BIG! show on the Science Channel right now. Tell us about the shoot and how you got involved.

It was no surprise that BIG! on the Discovery and the Science channels wanted to do an episode about the C-5M Super Galaxy because it’s truly impressive, or should I say “BIG”. The C-5M Super Galaxy is the largest transport aircraft in the entire U.S. Air Force fleet. It holds 89 world records, all of which are made possible with its four GE CF6-80C2L1F engines.

For the segment on the GE CF6 engines, the production company contacted GE Aviation and asked who the GE point of contact is for the C-5M program. They were looking for someone Richard Hammond could interview and talk about the theory behind a high bypass engine and the impact this engine and its predecessor, the GE TF39, have had on GE and the aviation industry. As the C-5M program manager, I was well suited to do so. I was incredibly excited at the prospect of participating in the show to represent the C-5M team in this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The filming took place at Peebles Test Operations in Peebles, Ohio this past July. The film crew spent the entire day touring Peebles, and the Peebles’ team did an outstanding job leading the production crew on a tour of the entire facility. After spending the day there, I’d estimate that they gathered approximately an hour and a half of total footage. This footage was edited down to about five to six minutes for the final episode. We were very fortunate that one of our CF6-80C2L1F engines happened to be in the Peebles’ facility when we filmed. The footage of myself with Richard Hammond is actually in front of a CF6-80C2L1F engine from a C-5M aircraft.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while filming?

I must admit that I was nervous during the actual filming. There were no ‘dry runs’. However, Richard Hammond made me feel very comfortable during the interview process. As you can see from watching the trailer, he’s a pretty energetic guy and his ability to instantly ‘peg his enthusiasm meter’ when it was time to start filming was impressive.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

One of my hobbies is playing the drums, which I started almost 50 years ago. It keeps me sane and has turned out to be an amazing outlet. It even provided me the opportunity to have been on a local cable channel broadcast with one of the bands I used to play in. Something else my wife, Maureen, and I enjoy doing very much is spending time with our beautiful granddaughters Harper and Scarlet.

Scavo with his wife, Maureen, and their granddaughters Harper and Scarlet.


Did you know Quick Six is a series? Read our previous features:

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