GE Aviation lands another big engine contract


Workers at GE Aviation’s plant in Castle Hayne will soon be making parts to meet a $2 billion aircraft engine order placed by Australia’s Qantas Airways.

The carrier announced Thursday that it has selected CFM International’s advanced LEAP-1A engine to power 78 Airbus A320neo aircraft currently on order. Cincinnati-based CFM is a 50/50 joint-venture between France’s Snecma and GE Aviation.

“The LEAP engine was chosen for our new A320neo aircraft because of its performance, fuel efficiency and maintenance program,” stated Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce in a release.

The first aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2016 and will support Jetstar, the airline’s low-fare subsidiary.

GE said the announcement takes total LEAP orders and commitments to more than 3,500 engines. The aircraft engine can be fitted to a number of commercial aircraft, including the latest version of Boeing’s 737.

“The Qantas Group is a great CFM customer and Jetstar is an industry leader among low fare airlines, so we are extremely proud it has chosen to expand that relationship to the A320 platform as part of their future franchise and fleet growth, making CFM such an important part of its operations,” stated Kevin McAllister, vice president of sales for CFM parent company GE Aviation, in the release.

“We are looking forward to a great future with the Qantas Group and to working hard each day to show that their trust is in good hands.”

GE Aviation has been a roll in recent months, landing big contracts from airlines looking for engines to power their newly-ordered aircraft. That impressive list includes more than 50 Boeing 777s ordered by Emirates Airlines last November and huge Boeing 737 orders by Southwest Airlines, Indonesia’s Lion Air and Norway’s Norweigen Air Shuttle.

A number of airlines that have ordered Boeing 787 Dreamliners also have selected GE to supply the engines.

In response to its growing order list, the company has been adding jobs at its Castle Hayne plant, which makes rotating parts for several different types of aircraft engines.

GE hired 20 additional workers last year and earlier this year announced plans to hire 10 to 15 more in 2012.