October 15, 2014
--Unique composites facility for the jet propulsion industry
--Represents $125M GE investment in Asheville, NC
--Will employ 340 at full capacity
ASHEVILLE, NC - GE Aviation, a global leader in jet engine and aircraft system production, today hosted a grand opening 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, Colleen Athans, Vice President, Supply Chain and Mike Kauffman, General Manager, Composites Manufacturing were joined by Governor Pat McCrory, Congressman Mark Meadows and officials from the Asheville Area Chamber, Buncombe County, City of Asheville and NC Department of Commerce to commemorate the grand opening.
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 has begun hiring at the new CMC components plant. 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 fibers 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. More importantly, this CMC 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.
Remarkably, CFM to date has logged total orders and commitments for more than 7,700 LEAP engines. There will be 18 CMC turbine shrouds in every LEAP engine produced, thus setting the stage for high, long-term production volume at the Asheville plant.
Reaction from state and local leaders:
Governor Pat McCrory
"The aviation sector is very important to North Carolina and we thank GE Aviation for its impressive investment in Asheville along with the hundreds of jobs it will provide. Companies like GE Aviation will continue to put North Carolina on a national and international stage when it comes to the aviation industry - something we care deeply about - and we look forward to partnering with them in the future."
Senator Richard Burr
"I am proud that GE has chosen Asheville as the location for its new advanced composites factory," said Senator Richard Burr. "North Carolina has made itself a leader in aerospace production and manufacturing over the years. Our public universities are unlike any in the nation and our state is home to hundreds of thousands of veterans whose specialized knowledge are an asset for the aerospace community. I want to congratulate GE Aviation and its leaders and warmly welcome them to our state."
Senator Kay Hagan
"Today's grand opening of GE Aviation's new Asheville facility is a huge boost for Western North Carolina's economy and our workforce," said U.S. Senator Kay Hagan. "North Carolina is among the best places in the country to do business, and the fact that GE Aviation chose to expand its presence in Asheville is a testament to the phenomenal drive and commitment of our workforce, as well as our world-class community colleges that are training the highly skilled and highly motivated workers our manufacturers need. Jobs are my number one priority, and I will continue working to create a climate that encourages innovative companies like GE Aviation to grow and create jobs in our state."
Congressman Patrick McHenry
"Today's grand opening marks another exciting day for Asheville and Buncombe County. Western North Carolina is a great place to do business and GE's continued investment in the area is a true testament to that fact. Having previously visited GE's Asheville facilities, I know the impressive work they have done with CMC materials and today's ribbon cutting ceremony is another milestone in that work. I look forward to visiting this newly completed facility."
Congressman Mark Meadows
"I'm grateful to GE Aviation for their continued investment in Buncombe County. Today's groundbreaking will provide hundreds of jobs and is a recognition of the high-skilled workforce Western North Carolina has to offer."
GE Aviation has the largest and fastest-growing installed base of jet engines in commercial aviation and a global services network to support them.