GE Aviation announces 300 new jobs, $200 million investment in north Alabama

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - GE Aviation says it will invest $200 million in two adjacent aviation facilities in Huntsville, bringing 300 jobs and long-term economic growth with it.

The company says the investment will position Alabama to play a pivotal role in the development of GE Aviation's world-class engines and the future of aerospace engineering.

The Huntsville factories will be built near Interstate 565 and Greenbrier Road, and construction will begin in 2016.  Once complete, workers will mass-produce silicon carbide (SiC) materials used to manufacture ceramic matrix composite components (CMCs) for jet engines and land-based gas turbines.

Governor Robert Bentley announced GE Aviation will build two adjacent factories in Huntsville starting in 2016.

Governor Robert Bentley announced GE Aviation will build two adjacent factories in Huntsville starting in 2016.

“We are honored that GE Aviation has chosen Huntsville for an advanced technology manufacturing operation to produce silicon carbide materials for commercial and military engines,” Governor Bentley said. “Today’s announcement is important because Alabama is expanding our partnership with a global aviation leader. We have prioritized advanced manufacturing in aerospace and aviation, and I appreciate the investment by GE Aviation in this new Huntsville operation.”

GE Aviation Vice President Sanjay Correa joined Governor Bentley and other state and local leaders at the Alabama State Capital to make the announcement.

GE Aviation Vice President Sanjay Correa

GE Aviation Vice President Sanjay Correa

“Establishing the new GE factories in Alabama is a very significant step in developing the supply chain we need in order to produce CMC components in large volume,” Sanjay Correa, Vice President, CMC Program at GE Aviation said.

One plant will produce silicon carbide ceramic fiber. It will be the first such operation in the United States. Today, the only large-scale SiC ceramic fiber factory in the world is operated by NGS Advanced Fibers in Japan, which is a joint company of Nippon Carbon, GE, and Safran of France. The adjacent GE factory will use the SiC ceramic fiber to produce the unidirectional CMC tape necessary to fabricate CMC components.

Correa said the workforce here, as well as location and Huntsville's history of treating well the businesses that choose the Rocket City, went into their decision to come here.

"It's a new technology. It moves us into an area that we are not involved in directly," said city administrator John Hamilton. He said this bigger push toward advanced manufacturing jobs is an interesting twist on Huntsville's history. "Now we are actually getting into manufacturing many of those components that our engineers have been designing for decades," he explained.

Construction & hiring timeline

Construction of the two plants will begin at about mid-2016, with full completion by the first half of 2018. It is located adjacent to the FedEx property in the Greenbrier area off Chase Farm Road. That will be extended through state grants into an access road to the GE Aviation property.

Production begins in 2018. GE has already begun hiring the technical team that will transfer to the Huntsville operation. GE expects to begin hiring the hourly workforce in late 2016.

"The average salary anticipated for these 300 jobs is $49,000 plus benefits on top of that," said Huntsville City Administrator, John Hamilton. "So, very good, well-paying jobs for people who are in the production business."

GE Aviation also has a 300,000-square-foot factory in Auburn that makes super-alloy machined parts for jet engines.  It is also the world's highest-volume additive manufacturing center.

Madison County led the state last year in new jobs created with nearly 3,500 positions and $321 million in investments, according to the 2014 New and Expanding Industry Announcements Report.