Many Boeing airplanes have at least one component made in Romania. The first GE Aviation engine designed and produced outside the US comes from the Czech Republic. And the Boeing 787, the current celebrity among airplanes, is powered by a GEnx engine partly created in Poland. In addition, components for GE, CFMI, and Rolls Royce Engines are repaired in Hungary. The CEE region plays a key role in the global business success of GE Aviation.
In the last decade, GE Aviation has developed a strong presence in the CEE region through acquiring existing businesses or opening new facilities in Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The business model has been more or less similar – investing into a traditional local aviation company and bringing it into the global GE Aviation family. Sounds simple, but GE´s business practice has significantly influenced the whole region. It has strengthened the CEE economically and unleashed innovative and creative potential through important investments in R&D. Moreover, it has created new jobs, which contributes to keeping local technical brain power at home. At the same time, GE Aviation has invested in a new generation of technically educated engineers through scholarship programs and cooperation with local technical universities. No wonder that the CEE region contributes to aviation projects like the GEnx engine for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, one of the most technologically advanced and innovative aircraft engines.
Made in Romania
Whenever you travel on your holidays and take your seat in a Boeing you may remember that some of its engine parts are probably produced in Romania. They were made by Unison Engine Components (UEC) from Bucharest, the first and only manufacturing unit for aircraft engine components GE has in South East Europe. The entire team from Romania consists of 100 local, highly-skilled professionals. UEC Romania provides approximately 50% of the combustors for two commercial jet engine lines, which are very sophisticated and deployed on the new generation Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, among other aircraft. The components crafted at the plant are exported to the US and then distributed all over the world. There are about 15,000 of these CFM56 jet series engines in service today, so your chance of flying with one of them is quite high.
Advanced technologies from Poland
The Engineering Design Centre (EDC) in Warsaw, founded in April 2000 under an agreement between GE Aircraft Engines and the Polish Institute of Aviation, has been growing rapidly. The first team of engineers consisted of only 20 people. This year, employment exceeded 1,300 engineers working for various GE businesses. The enormous potential of the talented Polish engineering staff enables participation in ambitious projects such as the design of the most advanced jet engines in the world like the GEnx. This engine, created as a part of the GE Ecomagination initiative, is installed on the latest Boeing aircrafts model B747-8 and 787 Dreamliner. The EDC engineers were responsible for the key solutions of many of its components and worked at its design from the very outset. “Innovation requires a specific environment whose key elements include skills, collaboration and the market, “ said Leslaw Kuzaj, GE CEO for Central & Eastern Europe at a recent presentation . “What GE is doing then is using Polish achievements and developing them on a global scale. “
Designed in the Czech Republic
In 2008, GE Aviation bought selected assets of Walter Engines and began building on the 100-year tradition of turboprop engine manufacturing in the Czech Republic. In only three years, these efforts – supported by research grants of the Czech government – resulted in the design and production of the H80 engine, using the experience from the production of the M601 Walter engine. The H80 is the first engine in the history of GE Aviation designed, manufactured and certified outside the US. Certification was finalized recently and the engine goes into commercial production on several types of aircraft. “We have an ambition to establish a global center of excellence for turboprop engines in the Czech Republic. Currently Canada is the center, but we think that if we can get enough funds and skilled people, the Czech Republic can successfully compete,” says Milan Šlapák, Commercial Director GE Aviation Czech Republic.
Technologies first in Hungary
GE Engine Services – Hungary was opened for business in August 2000. Since then, the site has been growing its repair capability and investing in technology and the skills of its people. When the site opened, it repaired a few electrical harnesses and had only a few employees. Today the site repairs thousands of part numbers including engine mounts, rotating and stationary seals, air, fuel, and oil manifolds and tubes, acoustical panels, and many other types of hardware, and it employs 250 people. The technology at the site includes welding, vacuum heat treatment, and plasma spray to name just a few. The plant was the first in the area to use these types of technologies and as such has developed key relationships with technical and vocational schools in the area to develop the talent needed for a future pipeline.
All these activities show how significant the contribution of GE Aviation has been to the CEE region in the last decade. It has not only changed the regional aviation industry, it has positively affected the local economies. GE Aviation has also changed the lives of its employees and created new communities and a new generation of local technical experts. This new generation is full of exciting ideas for innovation and new technologies and is crucial for further economic progress of the CEE region.