GE Aviation announces plans for Huntsville advanced manufacturing facilities
October 27, 2015: GE Aviation announced today that it will build two adjacent facilities in Huntsville, Alabama, to mass-produce silicon carbide (SiC) materials used to manufacture ceramic matrix composite components (CMCs) for jet engines and land-based gas turbines. This is cutting edge technology that will further our regional position as a leader in high-tech and advanced manufacturing. It will also grow our commercial manufacturing footprint in the aviation industry.
State of Alabama and North Alabama regional economic development partners announced the news today at the State Capitol in Montgomery. GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE, is a world-leading provider of jet engines, components and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.
Officials with GE Aviation said Huntsville was an ideal pick for its new facilities because of the city’s skilled workforce, a history of technology and innovation, existing utility infrastructure, local, state and regional support.
“Establishing the new GE factories in Alabama is a very significant step in developing the supply chain we need in order to produce CMC components in large volume,” said Sanjay Correa, Vice President, CMC Program at GE Aviation.
GE Aviation will invest more than $200 million to construct two factories on 100 acres in Huntsville. When the factories are operational later this decade, they are expected to employ up to 300 people. One plant will produce silicon carbide (SiC) ceramic fiber. It will be the first such operation in the United States. The adjacent GE factory will use the SiC ceramic fiber to produce the unidirectional CMC tape necessary to fabricate CMC components.
The Huntsville facilities will be the first in the U.S. to produce SiC ceramic fiber on a large industrial scale, and the demand for CMCs is expected to grow tenfold over the next decade.
“GE is an innovation company and Huntsville is an innovation city. This announcement by GE Aviation is just the latest chapter in that history of innovation,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “The products that will be manufactured here represent the future of aerospace. We are proud that Huntsville will help GE Aviation change the way we travel through the skies.”
For more than 20 years, scientists at GE’s Global Research Centers and GE’s industrial businesses have worked to develop CMCs for commercial applications—and now the company is bringing this cutting-edge technology to Huntsville. GE Aviation leaders said the use of lightweight, heat-resistant CMCs in the hot section of GE jet engines is a breakthrough for the jet propulsion industry. CMCs comprise SiC ceramic fibers in a SiC matrix, enhanced by proprietary coatings.
Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said collaboration was key for this project. “Every economic development effort requires a tremendous amount of teamwork and that is what makes our region unique. To get this project across the finish line, we established a strong coalition, including the City of Huntsville, Madison County, and Limestone County. Our team works together beyond geographical lines—through regional collaboration—working together as one for the benefit of our entire community.”
Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarborough said his county is ready to get to work with GE Aviation. “On behalf of the Limestone County Commission and the Citizens of Limestone County, we would like to welcome GE Aviation home to Limestone County! We are excited that GE Aviation has chosen to be part of our corporate family, and look forward to the outstanding future this presents for us all.”
Details of the level of support provided by these regional partners will be provided once the regional elected bodies have had the opportunity to vet the agreements.
Learn more about GE Aviation’s journey into CMCs with the following YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=ZSbaClAB6SI&video_referrer=watch
Marketing & Communications Director