News Column

GE LEAP Engine to Keep Ohio Workers Busy

April 19, 2013

GE Aviation, with French company Snecma, will soon produce the new LEAP engine for narrow-bodied, single-aisle airplanes, and GE employees across Southwest Ohio will be involved, company leaders said Thursday.

CFM International -- a joint venture of GE and Snecma -- plans to produce more than 1,700 engines per year as CFM transitions from the current CFM56 engine to the new LEAP engine. Elano Corp., also known as Unison Technologies, makes ducts and tubes used in both engines. Elano in Beavercreek has 770 employees.

As of February, CFM had logged orders and commitments for more than 4,500 LEAP engines, the company said. Elano itself has grown by about 100 employees in the past four years and is forecast to at least remain steady in employment, said Rick Kennedy, a GE Aviation spokesman.

CFM bills itself as the market leader in the all-important single-aisle plane market, which itself is 87 percent of the plane production market. The company expects deliveries of nearly 20,000 single-aisle planes in the next 19 years.

"We think we have today the right market position," Jean-Paul Ebanga, CFM president and chief executive, said in a tour at the company's West Chester Twp. headquarters, in a unmarked facility off Cincinnati-Dayton Road.

GE Aviation is increasingly important to the Dayton area. The company employs 335 employees in Vandalia and 1,300 total employees at three Dayton-area sites -- at Elano/Unison in Beavercreek and TDI-GE Aviation, also in Vandalia. With GE Capital's workforce in Kettering, and GE has around 2,600 local employees.

And the company is investing $51 million in a new center for researching electrical power in aviation off South Patterson Boulevard. The company's electrical power business has doubled since 2009, Kennedy said.

As a joint venture, CFM does not count its own employees. But Kennedy said more than 1,000 GE employees live in Butler County and are "heavily involved" in CFM. "I'm sure that's a modest figure," he said.

CFM engines are assembled, and LEAP engines will be assembled, at GE's Evendale facility, at another facility in Durham, N.C. and in a plant near Paris, France. The new engine is a growing part of the company's backlog, and company leaders tout it as offering several innovations.

Among those innovations are technologies meant to protect engines from sand and debris, discs and fan blades formed from one piece of metal, and strong and light carbon-matrix composite materials that are one-third the weight of metal yet stronger.

In the tour, company officers emphasized the material, saying that the history of aircraft engines has really been a history of materials.

"This is absolutely going to be the material of the future," said Gareth Richards, LEAP program manager.

GE acquired Elano in 1986.

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(c)2013 the Hamilton JournalNews (Hamilton, Ohio)

Distributed by MCT Information Services





Source: Copyright Hamilton Journal News (OH) 2013


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