Governor, GE Aviation announce major expansion during airshow
AUBURN, AL (WSFA) -
GE Aviation will add 200 jobs to its Auburn plant sooner than it originally planned thanks to a new state of the art expansion set to start at the end of this year.
The announcement came during the Farnborough Airshow just outside of London. Gov. Robert Bentley is there with Alabama's Secretary of Commerce meeting with aerospace companies that may have an interest in bringing facilities to Alabama.
"This is great news for Alabama," Gov. Bentley said in an exclusive interview about the project. "This is a perfect example of us working together. They're expanding because we have stayed together with them and helped them."
The Auburn plant manufactures individual parts that go inside engines for commercial and military aircraft. The expansion will feature additive manufacturing of a special fuel nozzle for the company's LEAP engine. "Additive manufacturing" is more commonly known as 3D printing.
"This will be the first facility anywhere in the world that's a high volume manufacturing facility doing parts that go into the core of an engine through additive manufacturing," said Joe Markiewicz, who is the plant manager for the Auburn plant.
The plant opened last Spring and has grown ever since. There are currently 70 employees with as many as 100 expected to be employed there by the end of the year. The expansion will lead to as many as 300 employees over the next several years.
GE Aviation is investing $50 million in the new plant, bringing its overall commitment in Auburn to well over $100 million.
"Bring it on," Markiewicz says. "We are the right facility to make this choice to bring it in to bring this technology in both from the workforce that we have and the experience that we have and the successes that we've had in the first year, year and a half that we've started up this facility."
The fuel nozzle will be entirely manufactured through 3D printing. The LEAP engine is used for single aisle commercial aircraft like the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320. Airbus' first US assembly plant is located in Mobile, AL which will begin putting together the A320 in January of next year.
GE Aviation's headquarters is in Cincinnati, OH but has manufacturing and assembly operations all over the world.
At first, the Auburn plant will have 12 3D printing machines but will increase to 50 over the next few years. By the end of the decade, GE Aviation expects to produce 40,000 fuel nozzles per year.