General Electric has selected Asheville, North Carolina as the location for a new factory to build ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) for future generations of turbofan engines.
The 11,600m2 (125,000ft2) facility will first be used for production of the stage-one shrouds in the high-pressure turbine section of the CFM International Leap-1, an engine produced by the GE-Snecma joint venture for Airbus, Boeing and Comac narrowbodies.
But the facility also will be sized to grow as GE incorporates CMC materials in more areas of future engines, says chief executive David Joyce. GE has already selected CMC material for use in the same shroud for the GE9X as the Leap-1 engine, and added it to the inner and outer linings of the combustor. CMCs also have been selected for use in the second stage of the high-pressure turbine, making the GE9X the first application of the technology in a rotating component of a commercial turbofan engine.
The technology is cited as the major reason why GE claims the GE9X will provide a 10% fuel-burn improvement compared with the GE90 that powers the current Boeing 777. Joyce says that CMCs alone should account for 2.5-3% of the engine's overall fuel-burn reduction.
The Asheville factory is the fifth new production facility opened by GE in six years, as the industry absorbs the impact of a historic rise in output driven by strong demand for more fuel-efficient aircraft.