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New Alabama GE Aviation facility will be ‘unique in the world’

GE Avation's facility in Auburn (Photo: Made in Alabama)
GE Avation’s facility in Auburn (Photo: Made in Alabama)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – General Electric Aviation broke ground on two new facilities in Alabama this week that will work together in a partnership that is not found anywhere else in the world.

The $200 million project will mass-produce silicon carbide (SiC) materials used to manufacture ceramic matrix composite components (CMCs) for jet engines and land-based gas turbines. One facility will create the raw SiC material and the other will turn it into tape for CMC components. The Huntsville location marks the first time these two processes will be in the same location.

“It will be unique in the world,” said Sanjay Correa, vice president of the CMC Program at GE Aviation. “This is the one and only place in the world where it will all be in one place.”

The Huntsville location is the only SiC facility in the United States so far. The only other two SiC plants in the world are located in Japan and France. The Huntsville-made tape will be used by GE Aviation at its CMC manufacturing facility in Asheville, N.C.

The new facilities will be located near the Polaris factory and the site of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s new mega site. Once the GE plants are completed, the company will employ up to 300 workers.

“There is a host of jobs, everything from engineering talent down to technicians and operators of chemical equipment all the way through the basic facility staff, from maintenance and shipping and all the things you would need to support a main manufacturing facility,” said GE Aviation CMC Industrialization Leader Matt O’Connell.

To bring these facilities to Huntsville, the state incentivized GE with a job-creation credit of $3.5M and an investment credit of $12.4M each to be paid over 10 years. The U.S. Air Force Research Lab Title III Office will fund the ceramic fiber plant with $21.9 million, and GE will be responsible for financing the CMC tape operation. The City of Huntsville will contribute $1 million to the project and the Huntsville Industrial Development Board will provide an additional $1.5 million. Madison and Limestone counties will also make contributions.

This is GE’s second investment in Alabama. In 2010, the company built a partnership in Auburn to create a $100 million, 300,000-square-foot factory to build jet engine components.