You could say that the workers at GE Aviation’s Asheville, N.C., facility might be a little proud but it’s for a great reason! These workers are the first in the world to handcraft jet engine parts using a new material called ceramic matrix composites (CMC). This team of 290 workers beat out seven states and cities that were all competing to be the location of GE Aviation’s new CMC plant.
According to Michael Meguiar, GE Aviation’s Asheville plant manager, the workforce at the facility consists of highly skilled hourly employees with extensive machining experience. These workers are accustomed to dealing with heavier products, so working with this new material was quite the shock. “It just blew me away. I didn’t think it would stand up,” Keith Duncan, a 10-year veteran of GE Aviation, said of the CMC, which is a third of the weight of the nickel-super-alloys he usually handles.
GE Aviation is using CMC to produce parts for its line of LEAP engines for Airbus and Boeing jets. By implementing the use of composite engines, it’s estimated that a jet plane could save $1 million in fuel costs: Less fuel burned means less gas in the air.
GE is planning to create more than 50 new jobs in the Asheville plant and is hoping to shift to using more CMC components in the future.