New plans for another GE Aviation manufacturing facility in the United States have emerged this week, as it was revealed that the Ohio-based jet engine maker will open a second plant for the production of ceramic composite materials.
GE Aviation announced in 2013 plans to open its first manufacturing plant for the mass production of ceramic matrix composites near Asheville, N.C. The lightweight, yet durable material able to withstand extremely hot temperatures will debut in GE's next commercial engine to enter the market in 2016.
But before that Asheville factory could jumpstart operations - the opening is slated for January 2015 - GE Aviation leaders say a second manufacturing facility for production of ceramic composites will be necessary to fulfill a backorder of jet engines now exceeding 14,000 including existing engines and those in development, said GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy.
Composites fuse multiple materials together to make different properties. The materials make for a more efficient engine, which lowers fuel and maintenance costs for customers, Kennedy said.
Since plans for the original Asheville composites factory were announced, a growing number of engine orders have been logged and plans have expanded for more future engine parts to be made with composites, Kennedy said.
LEAP, produced by GE joint venture and West Chester Twp.-based CFM International, is the Evendale aerospace company's next engine slated for commercial rollout in 2016. It will be the industry's first jet engine to contain ceramic matrix composites and 3-D manufactured parts.
The backlog for the yet-to-be introduced LEAP engine has doubled since 2013 to presently more than 7,500 engines on order, Kennedy said.Additionally, GE Aviation has a second commercial engine in development that is planned to enter the market by the end of the decade. While the LEAP will contain shrouds in the turbine made using ceramic matrix composites, the GE9X will expand composites to more of the engine, Kennedy said.
As of now, the location, opening date and other details for the second composite manufacturing site has yet to be decided, Kennedy said.