WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., 1 April 2014. GE Aviation, opening a new jet engine assembly facility in Lafayette, Ind., reflects the growth at GE Aviation. Jet engine deliveries for GE Aviation and its partner companies (including CFM International) are slated to grow from 2,442 jet engines in 2013 to about 2,850 in 2016.
GE and its partner companies have roughly 34,000 commercial jet engines in service, and that number is expected to grow to 41,000 engines by 2020, officials say. GE Aviation employs approximately 44,000 people and operates more than 80 facilities worldwide.
By the end of 2013, GE Aviation’s multi-year backlog for equipment and services reached $125 billion, more than a 20 percent growth in one year. In addition to its seven new facilities over the past seven years, GE Aviation is making significant investments in its existing operations across the U.S., including investments of more than $350 million since 2012 in its southern Ohio operations in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Peebles.
The CFM LEAP engine to be assembled in Lafayette will be among the world’s most advanced jet engines, with carbon fiber composite fan blades and fan case (from Snecma), the latest thermodynamic design, higher bypass and compression ratios, advanced 3D aerodynamic design, and greater use of advanced materials. The engine is targeted for a 15 percent improvement in fuel efficiency compared to its predecessor, double-digit improvement in noise and emissions, and the lowest overall cost of ownership in the industry.
At its Cincinnati operation, GE Aviation is using a technology called direct metal laser melting (DMLM) to manufacture LEAP fuel nozzles directly from computer-aided design (CAD) files. The process actually “grows” parts, layer by layer, using metal powder and a high-powered fiber laser. The part maintains the same material properties and density as a traditionally manufactured piece, but the process allows for much more complex geometries than were possible in the past. The resulting part is 25 percent lighter than previous nozzles and five times stronger.
The LEAP will be the first commercial jet engine with ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components in the hot section, representing 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 sees CMCs as a differentiator for its next-generation aircraft engines. The ultra-lightweight CMC material supports extremely high temperatures in the high-pressure turbine. CMC benefits include: reduced weight, enhanced performance, and improved durability that provides longer time on wing, translating into lower fuel and maintenance costs for customers, officials say.
GE Aviation invests $1 billion annually in jet propulsion research and development programs. This long tradition of commitment to new technology has helped GE maintains its leadership position within the industry with a proud list of "firsts" in both military and commercial jet propulsion, tracing back to 1942 with America's first jet engine.
GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE, is a global provider of jet engines, components, and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.