GE Aviation in Expansion Mode

$580-million capital program: three new plants, new equipment, new tooling

General Electric’s GE Aviation has in place a 2012 investment program for plants and capital equipment it estimated at $580 million, covering 55 locations in the U.S. Notably, it said it would expand its U.S. manufacturing footprint and R&D efforts as it increases production for commercial and military aircraft engines. GE Aviation indicated its annual deliveries would climb from approximately 3,000 jet engines in 2011 to 3,400 units this year, and up to 3,800 in 2013.

GE Aviation is a business unit of General Electric Co that designs and manufactures jet and turboprop engines and engine components, and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation.

Highlighting the investment program are three projects for three new operations for research into electrical systems and manufacturing engine components. The business has approximately 25,000 U.S. employees now, and estimated it will add 400 more workers in the coming three years.

Construction is in progress now at a site in Ellisville, Miss., where GE Aviation is building a 300,000-ft2 plant to manufacture components in advanced composites for jet engines and aircraft systems. The group has had a composites plant in operation in Batesville, Miss., since 2008, and now with 200 workers. The new plant will start operation in 2013 and GE expects it to employ 250 workers by 2016.

In Auburn, Ala., another 300,000-ft2 plant is being built to machine components for commercial and military aircraft engines. Construction will be completed later this year, and the operation will employ up to 400 when capacity is reached later this decade, GE Aviation stated.

A 120,000-ft2 research center is being built in Dayton, Ohio, to conduct computer modeling, simulation, and analysis of “advanced, dynamic electric power systems and controls.” The Electrical Power Integrated Systems Research and Development Center (EPISCENTER) is on the campus of the University of Dayton, and the R&D work will be carried out in collaboration with researchers there when work begins in 2013.

GE Aviation has other investment and improvement projects underway at its headquarters operation in Evendale, Ohio (a $100-million renovation); at an airfoil manufacturing plant in Greenville, S.C.; and at the GE Aviation Flight Test Operation in Victorville, Calif. “We are firing on all cylinders,” stated GE Aviation president and CEO David Joyce. “Our new-product development efforts and current product deliveries are at historic levels.”

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