GE Aviation Invests $5B To Build New Jet Engines

General Electric said recently that its aviation business has spent more than $5 billion to upgrade or build new factories for its next-generation jet engines.

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General Electric said recently that its aviation business has spent more than $5 billion to upgrade or build new factories for its next-generation jet engines.

The investments include $4.3 billion in the U.S. and an additional $1.1 billion at facilities overseas.

The new plants in the U.S. were built in Auburn and Huntsville, AL, Lafayette, IN, Ellisville, MS and Asheville, NC.

Some of those facilities are already operating; once completed, at a total cost of $214 million, they will add about 2 million square feet of manufacturing capacity.

Other plants in Hooksett, NH and West Jefferson, NC, received upgrades, while GE Aviation also established centers for emerging technologies such as 3D printing, advanced composite materials and digital engine monitoring.

The new plant in Auburn houses more than 40 additive machines for commercial and military engine components, while Cincinnati is home to the company's Additive Development Center.

GE Aviation's spending was prompted by production goals for its GE9X and LEAP jet engines, each of which features 3D-printed parts and components made of lightweight yet strong ceramic-matrix composites.

The company received about 700 orders, worth a total of about $28 billion, for the GE9X, which is not scheduled to enter service until 2020.

The LEAP engine, which is already in use, is produced by the CFM International joint venture from GE and French engine maker Safran. The company received more than 12,000 orders worth more than $170 billion.

Most of the engines will be exported to Asia, the Middle East, Europe and other overseas markets, but GE officials said that the bulk of production will remain in the U.S.

The LEAP engine, for example, is made in Asheville with ceramic-matrix composites that are shipped in from Huntsville.

"We are introducing several highly proprietary technologies that are upping our manufacturing capabilities in the United States," said Colleen Athans, the general manager of GE Aviation's supply chain.

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