The grounding of Boeing’s newest and most sophisticated passenger plane is not affecting engine production at the GE Aviation plants in Rutland.
“The GEnx engine production continues at its current pace and we’ve had no impact,” GE spokeswoman Deborah Case wrote in an email. “The Rutland plant continues to be a major component supplier to the program and the site’s expansion efforts are paying off as we have ramped up the engine production.”
The Federal Aviation Administration last week grounded the Boeing 787 Dreamliner after two Japanese airliners developed problems with on-board lithium-ion batteries. The high-tech and lighter-weight batteries are integrated into the plane’s electrical system. Although the batteries are smaller and provide more power than a regular lead battery, there have been instances where batteries using the same technology have caused problems when used in laptop computers and electric vehicles.
Each Dreamliner is equipped with two lithium-ion batteries. One battery is used primarily for auxiliary power on the ground, with the main unit providing backup power for the aircraft’s flight systems.
Boeing continues to express confidence in the plane, which uses lighter-weight composite materials to increase fuel efficiency — a major selling point for the world’s airlines.
Production of the 787 is continuing, with five aircraft coming off the Boeing assembly line each month.
The FAA is investigating the battery problem but gave no indication when the planes would be allowed back into service. Regulators in other countries have also grounded the 787. In total, there were 55 Dreamliners in service at the time the planes were grounded.
GE Rutland has ramped up hiring in part to meet demand for the 787. Four years ago, GE spent $20 million on a 27,000-square-foot expansion to its Windcrest Road plant that was designed specifically for the GEnx engine.
The Rutland plants, which have 1,100 workers, make compressor blades for a variety of commercial and military jet engines.
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