GE selects Lafayette for $100 million jet engine facility

GE Aviation, a global leader in jet engines and aircraft systems, announced at ceremonies held on March 26 at the Purdue University Airport that it will break ground this year on a new $100 million jet engine assembly facility in neighboring Lafayette.

The new 225,000-square-foot facility in Lafayette will assemble the new LEAP engine of CFM International, a 50/50 joint company of GE and Snecma (Safran) of France. CFM has logged total orders and commitments with airlines for more than 6,000 LEAP jet engines –– and it does not enter service until 2016. It will power new Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX, and COMAC (China) C919 aircraft for airlines worldwide.

Launched in 2008, the LEAP is now undergoing development testing. As the engine transitions to the production phase, GE could begin hiring at the new Lafayette facility as early as 2015. Within five years, the plant's workforce is expected to exceed 200 people with the capacity to do final assembly for the engine as well as the engine's hot section (compressor, combustor, high-pressure turbine).

"We are thrilled by the airline industry's enthusiasm for the new LEAP engine and its groundbreaking technologies," said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. "Beginning in 2015, the LEAP engine will experience a dramatic production ramp-up for the remainder of the decade. We are grateful to the entire Indiana team for ensuring that our Lafayette assembly plant will be soon up and running."

The Lafayette facility will operate a highly advanced assembly line incorporating several new technologies, including automated vision inspection systems and radio frequency parts management to easily spot parts on the shop floor. GE worked closely with the state of Indiana to secure the Lafayette location. The state of Indiana, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), the city of Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County have provided technical support and incentives to ensure a smooth and successful start-up.

The plant will be minutes from Purdue University in West Lafayette, which has a long history of collaboration with GE Aviation and its parent, General Electric Co. GE employs more than 1,200 Purdue University alumni, including more than 400 at GE Aviation. Over the past five years, GE has financed more than $2.5 million in research and development projects at Purdue.

GE Aviation leadership has met with Purdue officials to explore opportunities that will closely align the university to the new Lafayette facility and GE intends to use it as a catalyst for identifying talent and research capability.

"Purdue and GE are continuing to build a broad and strong collaboration in both research and talent recruitment," said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. "In today's world, a strong research university is the best economic magnet a state can have, and this announcement is a perfect example of that principle in action."