GE Aviation announced on March 26 that it will break ground this year on a new $100 million assembly plant in Lafayette, Ind., to produce the new-generation Leap engines for narrowbody airliners as part of its CFM International joint venture with France’s Snecma. It expects the plant will create 200 jobs by 2020.
The planned 225,000-sq-ft facility is near Purdue University in West Lafayette, and will have strong ties to that institution, GE said. As the Leap engine moves from developmental testing to production, the company may begin hiring in Lafayette as soon as next year.
The CFM joint venture has logged orders and commitments from airlines for more than 6,000 Leap-1A/B/C engines, which will power Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 Max and Comac C919 narrowbody airliners, respectively. Airbus plans to deliver the first Leap-powered A320neo in 2016.
Leap engine final assembly will involve using components and sub-assemblies from GE, Snecma and suppliers. The plant will be capable of both final assembly of the engine as well as its hot section, including compressor, combustor and high-pressure turbine. It will incorporate new technologies, including automated vision inspection systems and radio-frequency parts management, said GE, which will also assemble Leap engines at its existing engine plant in Durham, N.C.
The Lafayette plant will be the seventh facility GE Aviation has established in the U.S. in the past seven years, joining sites in Ellisville and Batesville, Miss.; Auburn, Ala.; Greenville, S.C.; Dayton, Ohio; and Asheville, N.C. GE said it plans to invest more than $3.5 billion in facilities and equipment worldwide through 2017, mostly in the U.S.