Strong positions on new programs have resulted in GE Aviation Systems finding itself busy across five continents. For instance, in its U.S. home, the systems and components group is ramping up for increased rates of production for its extensive contributions to Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner.
At the same time, company president and CEO Lorraine Bolsinger takes great encouragement from the “incredible” backlog of systems and components it is supplying for airliners, while acknowledging the potential threats to these apparently strong market conditions in terms of regional economic problems, such as the current financial crisis in Europe. “The ability for the supply chain to be flexible [to the need for rising output in the commercial aircraft sector] is another issue entirely,” she told AIN. “There is a strain on resources and talent, but I suppose that’s a pretty high-class problem to have.”
Meanwhile, the GE division is tapping new resources and talent on the other side of the world in China, where its joint venture with Comac for work on its new C919 twinjet was formally established in March. It is now establishing the leadership team for this new operation, although it has, in fact, been working on its contributions to the aircraft for some time. These include the avionics core processing system, display system and the onboard maintenance system.
Here in the UK, GE’s electrical power integration center is preparing the electrical power system for an undisclosed major new business aircraft now under development. Its laboratory there can model the power loads needed for all phases of generation and distribution.
The company’s parallel facility in the U.S. is working on how silicon carbide could be used to reduce weight and improve power density in electrical systems. Potentially, this project could strip about 400 pounds of weight from each aircraft.
Separately, the Naverus air traffic management specialist that GE Aviation acquired back in 2009 has been capitalizing on demand in regions such as Latin America and Australasia. For instance, it has helped LAN Peru airline to develop a performance-based navigation system as part of its Green Skies program. “The reduction in fuel burn is remarkable,” said Bolsinger. “It saves 450 pounds of fuel on each flight and emissions are reduced by around 1,000 pounds annually [per aircraft].”
Now with the U.S. NextGen ATM program fully funded, this GE division is busy again in its home market. It has won contracts to demonstrate new RNP and satellite approaches, as well as to develop shorter flight paths and constant descent procedures.