GE's Unique Peebles Test Operation Undergoes $90 Million Expansion
PEEBLES, Ohio -- GE Aviation's Peebles Test Operation, among the world's most advanced jet engine test centers and nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in rural Adams county, is undergoing a $90 million facilities expansion.
New jet engine assembly and testing sites at Peebles are being constructed to handle growing engine production and development activity at GE Aviation, headquartered near Cincinnati, Ohio. GE's investment in these new sites occurs during 2006-2009. The expansion involves:
*New large-engine production building: Final engine assembly, preparation for testing, and preparation for shipment are performed here. In 2007, it will perform final assembly (front fan attached to the propulsors) for about 165 GE90 engines, the world's most powerful aircraft jet engine. Final assembly for the GEnx, a new engine under development, will be performed here as well. The facility was completed this month.
*New outdoor test stand (site 7): An exotic, one-of-a-kind structure that will enable testing of the new GE/Rolls-Royce F136 engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The site will be operational at year's end.
*New indoor test facility (site 5C): Construction began this year on a new enclosed test facility for the GEnx and GE90 engines. The facility will be completed early next year.
"GE Aviation is going great guns, with production rates for our airline jet engines growing by more than 50 percent between 2006 and 2009," said Scott Donnelly, president and CEO of GE Aviation. "Peebles is critical to our production strategy."
The Peebles operation, with more than 250 employees and located on nearly 7,000 acres, is both an engine test and final assembly facility. Each year, Peebles runs final acceptance testing on about 1,250 engines manufactured by GE and its joint venture partners. From Peebles, these engines are shipped to aircraft manufacturers for installation on customer aircraft.
Also, in the years-long development of a new engine model, Peebles subjects the engines to conditions that exceed anything they are likely to encounter in actual service--hail and ice storms, typhoon conditions, winds at nearly 100 miles per hour, structural failure, and bird strikes--to meet the stringent demands of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory agencies for certification to enter commercial service.
GE purchased the Peebles property in 1954 to test rocket engines. There are currently eight test sites: two enclosed, and six open. Four are capable of testing engines that produce up to 150,000 pounds of thrust. (The thrust rating of the world's most powerful jet engine--GE's GE90-115B--is 115,000 pounds.)
GE Aviation generated revenues of $15.6 billion in 2006 (including Smiths acquisition). The company has the largest and fastest-growing installed base of jet engines in commercial aviation and a global services network to support them.
GE Aviation employs approximately 38,000 people and operates more than 80 facilities around the world. Engine assembly is performed at facilities in: Cincinnati and Peebles, Ohio; Durham, North Carolina; and Lynn, Massachusetts. Engine overhaul, maintenance and on-wing support facilities are located in the U.S., Wales, Scotland, England, and Hungary. Earlier this month, GE Aviation acquired Smiths Aerospace, a U.K.-based supplier of integrated systems for aircraft manufacturers and components for engine builders.
GE Aviation invests $1 billion annually in jet propulsion R&D programs. This long tradition of commitment to new technology has helped GE maintains its leadership position within the industry with a proud list of "firsts" in both military and commercial jet propulsion, tracing back to 1942 with America's first jet engine.