GE Aviation will build a $100-million assembly plant for jet engines and related aircraft systems in Lafayette, Ind., the manufacturer announced. The 225,000-sq.-ft. operation will assemble the new LEAP engine developed by CFM International, GE’s joint venture with French manufacturer Snecma CFM International.
The engine once referred to as the LEAP-X and now known as the CFM International LEAP is a high-bypass turbofan model that is due for commercial availability in 2016. CFM International has more than 6,000 orders for the engines, which will be installed in several commercial jet models, including the Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX, and COMAC C919 aircraft.
GE Aviation did not indicate its production volumes for new engines to be produced at the new plant.
The new LEAP also is being assembled already at a GE Aviation plant in Durham, N.C. Both these plants will be using parts and sub-assemblies supplied by GE and Snecma operations, and their suppliers around the world.
Among the parts assembled will be carbon fiber-composite fan blades and fan cases (produced by Snecma); fuel nozzles formed by direct metal laser sintering; and hot-section parts produced in ceramic matrix composite, representing a significant technology breakthrough for GE and the jet propulsion industry.
The LEAP is undergoing development testing now, and GE indicated that as production of the engine and its hot section (compressor, combustor, high-pressure turbine) ramps up, the new plant could have more than 200 workers within five years.
"We are thrilled by the airline industry's enthusiasm for the new LEAP engine and its groundbreaking technologies," stated David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation. "Beginning in 2015, the LEAP engine will experience a dramatic production ramp-up for the remainder of the decade. We are grateful to the entire Indiana team for ensuring that our Lafayette assembly plant will be soon up and running."
GE Aviation has announced seven new plants in the U.S. in past seven years, a series of investments estimated to be worth more than $3.5 billion.