GE Gears Up for GP7200 Support
General Electric Aircraft Engine Services’ facility at Nantgarw in south Wales is preparing to overhaul and repair the Engine Alliance’s GP7200 powerplant for the Airbus A380 super-large airliner. The program is part of a $10 million budget that will support infrastructure for the new engine over the next three to five years. At the same time it is expanding its engine test capability to include the G90-115B turbofan (for the new B777-200LR twinjet) as part of an investment program that has received backing from the Welsh Development Agency.
With the GP7200 accounting for around 60 percent of A380 engine choices, GEAES managing director Karl Essenden predicted that this work will constitute a major part of his group’s future business. Operators can ship the GP7200 to GEAES without first having to disassemble the fan.
GE bought the former British Airways engine repair operation in 1991, when the carrier became a customer for the GE90 engine. In 1996, BA awarded GEAES a 10-year contract to support its Rolls-Royce RB211 and CFM International CFM56 engines; a possible renewal of this deal is currently being negotiated. Last November, the company won a 10-year contract to support Ryanair’s CFM56s.
Following the air transport market downturn in 2001, GE closed other repair and overhaul facilities in Wales and concentrated the GEAES operation on Nantgarw, at a cost of 1,000 jobs over the past four years. But with the growing GP7200 and GE90-115B support roles, the downsizing appears to be over at the Welsh plant, which at 1.2- million sq ft is one of the world’s largest engine overhaul facilities. Advanced parts inspection technology is another key capability. GEAES expects some 375 engine shop visits this year from a worldwide customer base of 84 airlines.
Meanwhile, just up the road in Blackwood, Nordam Europe (a joint venture between Nordam and GEAES), is also expanding to meet rising demand for nacelle repairs. Almost a quarter of its $57 million revenues last year came from work for BE and British Airways, but it is increasingly doing more work for third-party clients and is in the process of doubling its staff.
In addition to working on nacelles for GE’s CF6, CF34 and GE90 series engines, Nordam Europe also repairs the CFM56 family plus Pratt & Whitney’s JT8Ds, PW308s, PW2000 and PW4000, as well as Rolls-Royce’s RB211s. The firm also overhauls flight controls, doors and hatches.