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General Electric (GE) will break ground this summer on a new jet engine component factory near Batesville in northwest Mississippi.
GE Aviation, a GE division and world-leading producer of jet engines, is creating a 200,000 square-foot facility to specialize in advanced composite engine components. Groundbreaking is planned in August; the plant is expected to become operational by early 2009.
Based on current demand for its jet engines, GE anticipates hiring to begin in 2008, with the workforce expected to exceed 100 people within the first 18 months of operation.
GE worked closely with the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) to secure the Batesville area location. The MDA, the city of Batesville, and the Tennessee Valley Authority have provided technical support and incentives to ensure a smooth and successful startup.
“”Support throughout the state of Mississippi for this new operation has been critical and very gratifying,”” said Scott Donnelly, president and CEO of GE Aviation, headquartered near Cincinnati, Ohio.
“”When we announced last year Mississippi would be the site of this project, GE officials said it would involve the most sophisticated manufacturing techniques the company does at any of its worldwide facilities,”” said Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. “”To have the leader in advanced composites for jet engines bring such specialized high-technology capability to Panola County puts Mississippi on the ground floor of an exciting growth business, and is a testament to the skills of our people and the outstanding nature of our educational institutions.””
To prepare for the new factory, GE in 2006 teamed with Mississippi State University’s (MSU) College of Engineering at its Raspet laboratory on an incubator program to demonstrate the production of composite components for jet engines.
The MSU and GE team at Raspet is successfully fabricating carbon fibre and epoxy resin composite components called “”fan platforms,”” which are installed between the front fan blades of GE’s most powerful commercial jet engines. The Raspet success has been an important precursor to GE establishing a permanent site in Mississippi. Raspet will continue to fabricate composite components for GE until the new facility is operational.
GE develops and produces the world’s most advanced composite components for jet engines. Composite components provide greater durability and engine weight savings, which translate into better aircraft fuel efficiency. GE introduced composite fan blades to jet travel in 1995 with its GE90 engine on the Boeing 777. The GEnx, a new GE engine to enter service in 2008 on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, is the only jet engine with both composite fan blades and a composite fan case. Composites are also used in GE’s advanced military engines.
Buoyed by continuing sales success of GE90 and GEnx engines, GE composite production is growing. The new Batesville plant will produce composite fan blade platforms for the highly-popular GEnx engine which enters airline service in 2008. (GE’s composite fan blades and fan cases are produced at other facilities.) The Batesville plant is also expected to produce composite components for GE military engines, including components for the F136 engine being developed jointly by GE and Rolls-Royce. The F136 will power the F35 U.S. Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.
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