Obituary: Brian Rowe, GE Aviation's icon and 'father' of composite fan blade engines, dies

Washington DC
Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

Brian Rowe, the executive who led General Electric’s aviation division for 14 years until 1993, died today following surgery. He was 75 years old.

During his tenure as head of GE Aviation, Rowe oversaw the launch of several key jet engine programmes, including the CF34 used on business and regional jets, the CF6-80C2, and the GE90 family.

“Everyone at GE Aviation today is a beneficiary of Brian’s unique vision and courage,” says president and chief executive Scott Donnelly in a statement.

“With the GE90 engine in the early 1990s, Rowe drove several unique technology advancements, including the first composite fan blades in commercial aviation. The GEnx, GE’s popular new jet engine under development, is based on the GE90 architecture,” adds the company.

During his tenure Rowe quadrupled GE revenues to $8 billion from $2 billion and played a key role in establishing the successful CFM International joint venture with France’s Snecma Moteurs.

He retired as chairman of GE Aviation in early 1995 after 38 years with the company, although he remained active in the company as chairman emeritus, even keeping an office at the company’s Evendale, Ohio plant.

Rowe worked for deHavilland Engine in the UK before joining General Electric Co. in 1957 as an engineer. He became general manager of commercial engines in 1972, vice president and general manager of airline programmes in 1974, and vice president and general manager of engineering in 1976, before taking the reins at GE Aviation.

Rowe is survived by his wife and three children.