New jet engine work is headed to GE Aviation’s Strother Field plant in Cowley County, bringing what a GE official said would be long-term stability to the plant that employs 720 people.
Starting in January, assembly of GE’s CF34-8E jet engine will be done at the plant halfway between Winfield and Arkansas City and about 60 miles southeast of Wichita.
“Our goal is to maintain that (employment) level around 720,” said GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy. “This will help maintain that.”
Employees at the Strother plant, which Kennedy said was established in the early 1950s, already overhaul GE’s CF34 family of jet engines. They also assemble the company’s new Passport engine, which will be used on Bombardier’s Global 7000 business jet and is expected to enter service in the second half of 2018.
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With the new engine assembly work, “there’s a lot of very long term, new product at Strother,” Kennedy said.
The CF34-8E engine was developed about a decade ago, but Kennedy said “it’s an engine that’s going to be in production for a long time.” It’s used on Embraer E170 and E175 regional passenger jets. Regional airline SkyWest has 30 orders for the E175, and Alaska Airlines has 33 orders for it. The E170 and E175 are also used by American, United, Delta and British Airways.
Kennedy said GE decided to move the engine assembly work to Strother because its plant in Durham, N.C., needed room to assemble the company’s new Leap jet engines that are used on Boeing’s new 737 Max aircraft.
He said Strother was selected because of its familiarity with overhauling CF34 engines, its overall productivity and its experience assembling the Passport engine.
“It’s natural for them to do this,” Kennedy said.