GE Aviation will grow its engine components footprint in Singapore after announcing plans to establish a new center to manufacture parts for the GE9X engine powering the Boeing 777X.
Announced at the Singapore Air Show on Feb. 5, the new 50,000 square foot facility located at the city-state’s Seletar Aerospace Park will specialize in high pressure compressor vanes for the widebody engine, which to date has amassed nearly 700 orders. In the Asia-Pacific region, Aviation Week’s 2018 Fleet & MRO Forecast has an order backlog of 82 units for the GE9X, a figure not taking into account this year’s Singapore Air Show.
Despite last week announcing the enforced delay of the GE9X’s maiden flight after discovering a minor design issue with its GE9X engine, the OEM doesn’t anticipate any problems with the program’s overall engine certification program and said the 777X aircraft will remain on track for a February 2019 debut flight.
With funding to the tune of S$42million ($31.7 million), GE has earmarked a late 2018 opening date for the facility. Initially, 20 staff will man the site but this figure could grow fivefold in just two years with 100 skilled technicians and engineers a possibility by 2020 according to the U.S. engine giant.
GE already has more than 1,600 aviation employees in Singapore, mostly located at its engine component repair facility at Loyang Industrial Park, which focuses on repair and overhaul of high pressure compressor and turbine blades, vanes, nozzles and combustors.
With plans to implement digital and lean manufacturing concepts at the new facility, the engine maker said it will draw on ideas and concepts from its existing Singapore repair center. The repair facility, which GE has operated since 1981, is currently undergoing heavy investment following a GE commitment of $110 million over a 10-year period made at the last Singapore Air Show in 2016.
Investments at the component service center include research into new repair processes, a lean lab for advanced manufacturing and utilizing the latest robotic technologies to drive greater efficiencies. These commitments were made in anticipation of growing regional demand from engine types such as the CFM LEAP, GEnx and the GE9X.