At the Paris Air Show Monday, the South won another high-tech aerospace plant.
Standing in front of a GEnx jet engine on display in one of the exhibition halls, David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, announced that Asheville, N.C., has won the competition to be the site of a new plant that will produce engine components made out of Ceramic Matrix Composites, or CMCs, and create 240 new jobs.
“These are going to be the future,” Joyce said, holding a sample of a CMC component. “I guarantee you this plant will get bigger with time.”
The location of the plant in Asheville is subject to final approvals of incentives from the State of North Carolina, GE said.
GE Aviation has more than 1,300 employees in North Carolina at sites in Durham, West Jefferson, Wilmington, and an existing machining plant in Asheville. The new facility would be part of a larger commitment to invest $195 million across these North Carolina operations through 2017.
Made from silicon carbide ceramic fibers and ceramic resin, enhanced with proprietary coatings and baked twice in autoclaves, CMCs are extremely light and strong and can withstand very high temperatures.
GE will use them in the hot inner core of a jet engine, where temperatures run as high as 2,000 degrees.
The first use of CMCs in aviation will be to make a shroud, a component that directs exhaust gases through the high-pressure turbine, for the LEAP engine that will power Boeing’s 737 MAX and Airbus’s A320neo.
But GE plans to extend the use of CMCs in its next new engine. The GE-9X, which will power Boeing’s 777X, will use CMCs extensively in the combustion chamber.
The CMCs don’t need to be cooled with air, as do metal parts in the hot section. Not having to bleed away any of the air flow through the engine makes it more efficient.
To win the plant, Buncombe County commissioners and Asheville City Council held public hearings and voted to approve just more than $4 million in cash incentives over the next 10 years, and in May approved a $15.7 million land-and-construction swap for the project, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College will provide a training program for prospective employees to train in a hands-on environment with state-of- the- art machinery.
GE plans to break ground this year on the new 125,000-square-foot facility and could begin hiring as early as 2014.