GE Aviation, a global leader in jet engine and aircraft system production, announced today that its Strother Field plant in Cowley County will assemble the new Passport 20 engine, which will power the next-generation large-cabin business jet.
GE’s $7 million investment in machinery and equipment will enable Strother to assemble, maintain, repair and overhaul the Passport 20 engine, which will power Bombardier’s Global 7000 and Global 8000 large, ultra long-range twinjets now in development. While the new engine assembly capability for Strother will not result immediately in adding to its nearly 700 employees, it will contribute significantly to maintaining stable employment levels at the plant for many years to come.
“This investment will position Strother to play a pivotal role across the entire life cycle of the Passport 20 engine,” stated Tony Aiello, GE Aviation's vice president and general manager, Assembly, Test and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Operations.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Rep. Mike Pompeo joined GE Aviation employees and dignitaries at Strother to celebrate the announcement.
"This decision demonstrates GE Aviation's commitment to Strother and the State of Kansas," said Governor Brownback. "Kansas continues to lead the way in aerospace innovation. This investment will help fuel additional growth across the state and highlights our competitive workforce and business climate."
According to Rep. Pompeo, “this important strategic move will guarantee a long-term workload at the Strother facility and benefit our state for decades to come.”
Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran also lauded the announcement.
“I am pleased to welcome this new work for the highly skilled employees in Strother who are part of the proud tradition of Kansas aviation manufacturing,” Sen. Roberts said. “This is great news for the community and the state.”
Sen. Moran added, “We are grateful that GE Aviation continues to bring good news to our state with the announcement of additional investment in its Strother facility. The fact is, Kansas builds world-class airplanes and builds them well. It’s no wonder global aviation leaders like GE are eager to tap into the talents of Kansans. We look forward to a great relationship far into the future.”
“We are excited about the addition of this new work to the plant at Strother Field,” said Kerri Falletti, director of the Cowley County Economic Development Partnership. “As a pro-business community, Cowley County is happy to see and support growth and commitment to this facility.”
“The state, county and the surrounding community have been invaluable partners, and I know those partnerships will bring even more success as we take on this additional work at the Strother site,” said Jorge Perez, GE’s plant manager at the Strother facility.
GE will install new equipment and train employees on the new engine assembly this year, and expects to roll the first completed Passport 20 engine off the assembly line sometime in 2016. The Strother facility is expected to reach full volume production in 2017.
The Passport engine will produce 16,500 pounds of thrust and will incorporate advanced technologies and materials to provide eight percent lower specific fuel consumption than engines in its class. It will also generate lower emissions and reduced noise, surpassing the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) Tier 6 emissions standards and meeting the Federal Aviation Administration’s Stage 4 noise regulations.
GE Aviation began operating at the Strother facility in 1951. Currently, the facility services the CFM56 engine for single-aisle aircraft, the CF34 engine for regional aircraft, and the T700 and CT7 engines for various helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
As of March 1, 2015, GE Aviation had accumulated more than 1,000 hours and 500 cycles for the Passport test program. The Passport engine made its first flight Dec. 30, 2014, on GE’s 747-100 flying test bed in Victorville, Calif.