GE breaks ground on Leap assembly plant in Indiana

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General Electric will assemble half of its share of the CFM International Leap engine orderbook at a new 225,000ft2 facility in West Lafayette, Indiana, the manufacturer has revealed.

The equal partner to Snecma in the CFM joint venture formally unveiled the concepts for the $100 million West Lafayette facility – the company’s seventh new factory-opening in the USA since 2007 – in a ceremony attended by GE Aviation president and chief executive David Joyce.

“GE Aviation is on a strong growth trajectory,” Joyce said in a speech at the groundbreaking event in a city that is also home to Purdue University.

GE has booked orders for 6,000 Leap jet engines across three aircraft types – the Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 Max and Comac C919.

Hiring at the West Lafayette facility will begin in 2015 and could create more than 200 jobs within five years.

GE plans to split assembly of Leap engines and the high-pressure sections between West Lafayette and an existing factory in Durham, North Carolina. Snecma, which currently assembles the CFM56 in Villaroche, France, will build the other half of Leap engines produced.

Commercial jet engine production across GE Aviation’s portfolio, including CFM, has nearly doubled over the past decade, rising from 1,460 in 2004 to an estimated 2,650 this year.

It is expected to rise further to 2,850 engines by 2016, the year after the Leap-1A engine is scheduled to enter service with the A320neo.

“Because of the huge Leap backlog, we have to move fast,” Joyce says.