GE Aviation has entered a $517 million contract with the U.S. Army to build test engine parts for Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, a deal that could give a major boost to production at the company’s Rutland facility.
The contract was awarded after GE Aviation won an Army bid to develop a helicopter engine with more power and better fuel-efficiency.
The new contract won’t mean any new hires in Rutland, at least for now. Nick Hurm, a spokesperson for GE, said there will be “very little” immediate change at the Vermont facility, as much of the early development will start at their location in Lynn, Massachusetts.
But over time, if the Army keeps buying the engines, Rutland will start to see “much more rampant production,” Hurm said.
“Right now, this is a really positive sign for sites like Rutland,” Hurm said. “We’re working hand in hand with the Army on this engine to eventually mass produce it … so in the long term, big picture, with all of our partial engines and other products as well, there’ll be plenty of work, and that just strengthens the signal of the future for Rutland.”
In 2024, the Army will decide whether to place a larger order for the engines, which is when Rutland would first start to see significant changes. But those changes could be long-lasting. The company’s T700 engines have been used for 30 years, Hurm said, and the new T901 engines have the potential to be used for another 30.
GE has spent billions developing the T901 engines, preparing a supply chain capable of producing them on an industrial scale and marketing the engines.
Hurm said it’s hard to say exactly how much of the $517 million will be spent at the Rutland facility, but that the site will play a significant role in the production of the new engine.
VTDigger is underwritten by:
“Rutland has a role in almost every one of the engines we have at GE Aviation. They produce 15 different engines right now, for everything from military to commercial,” Hurm said. “Every two seconds, GE technology is flying through the sky, and Rutland is making fan blades, compressors, all sorts of things, for all of these.”
GE Aviation employs 1,200 people in the area, and has increased hiring by a third in the last 10 years. The aviation arm has not been hit by layoffs and cost cutting elsewhere in the company.