GE Aviation gives glimpse into Lafayette facility

WLFI File Photo

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Behind the doors of GE Aviation’s 300,000-square-foot facility on U.S. 52, some of the most advanced manufacturing in the state is taking place.

The plant is working to put Indiana on the map as a leader in aerospace technology.

“We want to be a part of that aerospace future that Indiana, I think, is well positioned to have,” said Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski.

The facility is one of three in the world assembling and repairing the engine used in Boeing 737’s, the Airbus and COMAC aircraft.

On Wednesday, a select few got a look inside.

“We have a lot of investment here, and we are going to continue to work to bring those advanced manufacturers to this community,” Roswarski said. “In particular, if we can work on the aerospace cluster, that’s a high priority for us.”

To keep up with industry demand, the facility currently only uses two production bays. A production increase over the next three years will double that, upping the number of engines produced from five a week to five per day.

“There’s a lot of empty space still,” said Colleen Athans, GE Aviation’s supply chain vice president and general manager.

Part of the tour included a panel discussion about the long-term impact on Tippecanoe County’s economy.

“One GE factory is usually 200 to 250 suppliers that don’t necessarily locate right next door but certainly in the general area,” Athans said. “So, anywhere from logistics to piece part manufacturing to servicing to anything that has to do with the factory.”

“All of those things to help create that business environment that allow companies like GE to feel comfortable making significant investments here in our community,” Roswarski said. “If we can keep doing that, it bodes very well for our future.”

In September of 2015, the Lafayette plant began production of the LEAP engine with 21 employees.

Now, 75 are employed. Eventually, that number will grow to 230.