GE Aviation joins the podium -- alongside the likes of Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce --as one of the world's largest providers of jet engines and services for commercial and military aircraft. A business segment of GE, GE Aviation produces large and small jet, turboprop, and turbo shaft engines. It also offers replacement parts and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services. Some engines are produced and marketed through CFM International and Engine Alliance (jointly owned by GE and Pratt & Whitney. Newer engines are also being designed and marketed in joint ventures with Rolls-Royce and Honda Aero. GE Aviation operates globally.
GE Aviation has operations in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
GE Aviation's business includes companies that cover the gamut of engines and related engine services. GE Aviation Materials makes engine spare parts, and offers financial services; GE Engine Leasing rents, leases, and exchanges engines; Middle River Aircraft Systems specializes in the design, manufacture, and repair of engines; and Unison Industries integrates electrical/mechanical components for aircraft engines.
China is experiencing a 13% traffic growth and is now one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. To tap this emerging market, GE Aviation has entered into strategic alliances with several companies -- some considered rivals -- to extend its technology and also its foothold in global markets. The company is already involved in a joint venture with Pratt & Whitney (GE-P&W Engine Alliance), which was formed to help reduce development costs. The companies have been selected by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) to provide the engine for China's ARJ21 regional jet.
Additionally GE Aviation joined with competitor Snecma to create CFM International, a 50-50 company with a partnership agreement through 2040. GE Aviation and Snecma built a new engine in 2009 for COMAC's C919 150-passenger jet. GE Aviation also created GE-AVIC Civil Avionics Systems, a joint venture with Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), in 2011 to build the avionics systems for the C919. The new joint venture will also look to develop avionics for other aircraft platforms as well. To support its increasing business in China, GE Aviation opened a new systems manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China, in 2009.
The company's joint ventures and contracts don't stop in China. GE Aviation signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Company in 2009 that expands GE's global network for MRO providers in the Middle East. It has signed a five-year contract with Air Italy to provide maintenance, repair, and overhaul for CFM56-3B and CF6-80C2 engines. Airbus has selected Rolls-Royce and the GE-P&W Engine Alliance to supply its A380 behemoth. In late 2012 GE Aviation also moved to partner with Parker-Hannifin business Parker Aerospace to form a 50-50 joint venture named Advanced Atomization Technologies LLC. As part of the agreement, the venture will operate from the Parker Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division facility in Clyde, New York, and aims to develop and make commercial aircraft engine fuel nozzles that will boost performance. Later that year the company formed a joint venture, Taleris, with Accenture to provide operational efficiency services to airlines and cargo carriers.
GE Aviation is spending big on developing new engines and advanced technologies. Among the new crop of engines is the GE90-115B, its largest and most powerful jet engine ever; two of the new engines power Boeing's 777 models. Boeing has also contracted GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce to supply engines for its 787 Dreamliner.
GE Aviation's alliances also extend to the military sector, though it has struggled in that arena. In 2011 the GE-Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team discontinued development of the F136 engine for use in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) after the US Department of Defense cut funding for it. The company has made some advancements, however, in automatic aerial refueling technology. In the summer of 2009 GE Aviation completed initial flight testing of its Electro-Optical Grid Reference System (EOGRS), which supports automatic and manned aerial refueling.
GE Aviation is also cutting back some of its operations. In spring 2011 the company sold off its legacy fuel measurement business to UK-based BBA Aviation for $62.5 million. Under the deal, the fuel measurement operations, which specialize in building and overhauling related gauges and systems for the Airbus 320 and A319, and Boeing 777, were transferred to BBA Aviation facilities.
Mergers and Acquistions
In late 2012 GE acquired the operations of Italy's Avio for some $4.3 billion. Avio is a maker of aviation propulsion components and systems for civil and military aircraft.
GE Aviation's revenues and profits increased 7% and 6%, respectively, in fiscal 2011, after falling 6% and 16%, respectively, in 2010. FY2011 revenues and earnings increased due to higher volume and higher prices primarily driven by increased services and equipment sales.
Parent company GE entered the US aviation industry during WWI in 1917. In the first military aircraft engine competition held in the US, GE was awarded a contract to build a booster (aka turbosupercharger) on a piston engine, which used the engine's exhaust gases to increase power for higher altitudes. In 1942 it built the first jet engine in the US.