Sequestration: GE Rutland expects stable work load
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | March 04,2013
Although sequestration is expected to take a meat ax to military spending, overall production at the local GE Aviation plants is expected to remain stable, according to a GE spokesman.
Military engine orders make up 20 percent of production at the Rutland plants with commercial jet engines comprising the remaining 80 percent.
“GE Aviation is entering an unprecedented era in our history — our production rates have never been higher and our backlog has never been bigger,” Matthew Benvie wrote in an email from GE Aviation headquarters in Evendale, Ohio. “With GE’s commercial production rates rising dramatically over the next few years and already-strong military production rates remaining stable, the next two to three years shape up nicely for Rutland. Rutland’s production are up across engine lines and they’ve added a lot of jobs to support that growth.”
GE has ramped up local employment and now has 1,100 workers at its plants on Columbian Avenue and Windcrest Road. A major slice of the commercial work is the GEnx, which powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Despite the grounding of the 787 because of problems with the lithium-ion batteries, GE continues to build GEnx engines.
Benvie said most of GE’s “contracts with the DoD (Department of Defense) in 2013 are locked in even if sequestration goes through.” He said that next year and beyond is “less clear.”
Although Rutland’s military production is small relative to commercial, Benvie said the Rutland plants were recently awarded contracts, including F414 engines for the Navy’s F-18 fighter. He said that “will continue to drive stable military production in Rutland.”
Regardless of sequestration, he said the Pentagon is focused on reducing costs through upgrades rather than new weapons platforms.
“With 26,000 military engines in service, GE is in good position to take new, commercially-tested technologies and apply them to military engines,” Benvie said.
He said one example is the workhorse KC-135 tanker, which is powered by the same engine that powers the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
The GE CFM56-2 engine helps improve performance and reduces maintenance costs, Benvie said.