The new 5,800m2 center will begin operating in the third quarter of 2017 producing advanced coatings for GE’s high-temperature ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components for the latest generation of jet engines.
Scott Hayes, general manager of ACC, confirmed the two JV stakeholders will invest more than $15 million in equipment for the new facility and create 50 new jobs by 2022 – a fact lauded by representatives of the Palmetto State, which hasn’t been discreet in its attempts to actively grow its aerospace industry.
Nikki Haley, the state's Republican governor, said the move showed demonstrated South Carolina's open for business mentality, while its secretary of commerce Bobby Hitt hailed its manufacturing prowess.
Its pedigree in aviation is a good one - with Boeing manufacturing and assembling 787 aircraft in North Charleston while Lockheed Martin has a sizeable MRO operation in Greenville.
When taking such factors into consideration, geographically, GE's SC location makes sense. Having established a composite center across the border in Asheville North Carolina - around only 75 miles away - Hayes said the location of Duncan offered "the right mix of skilled employees and resources required" to help with the firm with its expanded production capabilities.
Formed in 2014, ACC began delivering its first coated components at the end of 2015, including CMC shrouds for the LEAP engine, the engine option for the Boeing 737 MAX, Airbus A320neo and Comac C919.
GE is betting big on CMCs, having forecasted an upsurge in demand based on the current backlog for the LEAP. This is unsurprising, considering the sheer number of LEAP orders in place. For 2015, the new-engine option had in excess of 10,000 orders – a figure likely to further grow by the year.
At the end of last year, ACC commenced with delivery of its first coated components – CMCshrouds on the LEAP – making the CFM engine the first to use CMCs in its hot, high-pressure turbine section.
Later this decade, GE will also be incorporate CMCs into the combustor and high-pressure turbine section of its new GE9X engine powering the Boeing 777X widebody aircraft. The engine is currently undergoing its test phase, which GE commenced earlier this year at its facility in Peebles, Ohio.
With the landscape for component materials evolving – think more and more composite materials found on an aircraft – coating technologies are becoming increasingly sophisticated. With this in mind, engine makers further developing their capabilities in areas such as coatings looks a likely trend of the next decade.