GE Aviation opens composites plant in Mississippi, expands Delaware plant

Facilities will focus on composites development and manufacturing for jet engine applications.

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GE Aviation (Cincinnati, Ohio) on April 30 celebrated the grand opening of its second aviation composites factory. Located in Ellisville, Miss., it represents an investment that is expected to add hundreds of new jobs in the state. The new 340,000-ft2/31,587m2 plant will operate as GE Aviation’s Ellisville Composites facility, and it will manufacture and assemble new composite components. GE Aviation already employs more than 450 people at a factory near Batesville, in northwest Mississippi, which opened in 2008. This factory is involved in the assembly of large front fans for jet engines and the production of composite components. With the opening of Ellisville, GE Aviation will add as many as 40 jobs in 2013. Based on current demand for its jet engines, GE expects to employ as many as 250 people in Ellisville by 2017.

Ellisville Composites will produce carbon fiber composite parts for two new engine programs: the LEAP jet engine, now under development by CFM International, a joint company of GE and Snecma (SAFRAN Group, Courcouronnes, France); and GE’s new Passport jet engine. The facility also will manufacture fan platforms (installed between the engine’s front fan blades) for the LEAP1A and the LEAP1C, which will power, respectively, the Airbus (Toulouse, France) A320neo and the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd.’s (COMAC, Shanghai, China) single-aisle C919. Ellisville also will manufacture the inlet for the Passport engine, which was selected by Bombardier (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) to power its Global 7000 and Global 8000 business jets. The inlet is a single-piece component that is located in the front of the Nexcelle nacelle system and directs airflow into the engine. In addition to jet engine components, Ellisville will manufacture the transcowl, a component of the thrust reverser that is located in the rear of the nacelle for the Airbus A320neo.

To date, CFM has logged orders for more than 4,500 LEAP engines. This record backlog should ensure a stable workload at Ellisville for years to come. The Ellisville plant also is expected to produce future composite components for GE’s newest commercial jet engines and aircraft systems.

“Today is an exciting day for Ellisville, Jones County and the entire state as GE Aviation opens the doors to its second Mississippi facility,” said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at the festivities. “I thank GE Aviation officials for continuing to invest in Mississippi.”

Ellisville employees are undergoing training in advanced manufacturing processes, with assistance from the Mississippi Polymer Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg, Miss.) and the Advanced Technology Center at Jones County Junior College (Ellisville). The plant is scheduled to deliver its first components later this year.

On May 21, GE Aviation reported that it plans to invest $27 million (USD) and add up to 70 jobs in the next five years to develop a Lean Lab at its Newark, Del., facility, which manufactures advanced engine components made of ceramic-matrix composites (CMCs). A staple of GE manufacturing, the Lean Lab concept reportedly enables the engineering and manufacturing teams to work together to demonstrate a component’s manufacturing readiness before it is scaled up to full-rate production. Production technologies for CMC components will be developed and proven in Newark then transitioned to GE mass-manufacturing facilities.

GE is committed to incorporating CMCs into the LEAP engine, a first in a commercial engine. CMCs are considered a key to unlocking greater fuel efficiency and reducing emissions in aircraft engines by allowing them to run hotter. Demand for CMC components in jet engines is expected to grow tenfold over the next decade. 

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