RUTLAND — GE Aviation, Rutland’s largest employer, has won a $1 billion U.S. Air Force contract to continue developing a new fighter jet engine.
“This was an intense competition that draws on the skill, the workforce and the reputation of GE Aviation’s team in Rutland,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“The advances these engines will bring hold great potential to make our aircraft both more powerful and more fuel efficient, while assuring continued U.S. military superiority in combat aviation,” he said.
The Rutland facility, which employs more than 1,000 workers, primarily produces jet engine blades and vanes and is expected to have a significant role when the three-stream, adaptive cycle engine enters production, the statement said.
“I’m delighted with the press release, but I am hardly surprised given the fact that the Rutland facility is the gold standard for GE Aviation,” Mayor Christopher Louras said Thursday evening. “This news is not just good news for Rutland, but it demonstrates the quality of the local workforce.”
The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, awarded the contract that is scheduled to run through 2021.
A Leahy spokesman said this is a huge contract and while it will initially be used at other GE Aviation facilities for design and development, it has huge implications for Rutland jobs in the future because Rutland is a production facility.
“Senator Leahy is a great champion for the men and women in the U.S. military and at GE Aviation Rutland,” Nate Beach, plant manager for GE Aviation’s Rutland operations, said in Leahy’s statement. “He has ensured funding to position GE to continue to power the U.S. military’s most advanced combat jets and maintain future production here in Rutland.”
GE’s adaptive cycle, three-stream engine extends aircraft operating range by more than 30 percent, improves fuel consumption by 25 percent and increases thrust by more than 10 percent, according to GE Aviation.
Leahy emphasized that the contract helps solidify future work for GE Aviation in Rutland.
“Like all Vermonters, I am incredibly proud of the men and women at GE Rutland for their hard work and innovation that directly contributed to GE Aviation’s selection for this contract,” he said. “I see and feel their enthusiasm, capabilities and commitment each time I visit them.”