General Electric said its aviation unit plans to break ground on a $100 million jet engine plant in Indiana this year, where the company’s joint venture with Safran SA of France will produce its new Leap engine.
MarketWatch reported that engine makers are competing to provide airlines with fuel savings, increased thrust and lower costs. GE is putting its money on advanced composite materials that promise to be more durable and weigh less than those made from the typical nickel and titanium metal alloys. The idea is to reduce maintenance costs for airlines and cut fuel consumption by lowering the weight of the engine.
GE said the joint venture has logged total orders and commitments with airlines for more than 6,000 Leap jet engines–which are expected to power the new Airbus A320neo from Airbus Group, 737 Max from Boeing Co. and state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd.’s C919 aircraft.
The Leap engine currently is in development testing.
In addition to the planned 225,000-square-foot facility in Lafayette, Ind., the Leap engines will also be produced at GE’s engine assembly plant in North Carolina.
The Indiana plant is expected to go into service in 2016. However, GE said that as the engine transitions to the production phase, the company could begin hiring at the new Lafayette facility as early as 2015.