GE Aviation has been awarded a $517 million contract from the U.S. Army to build parts for Blackhawk and Apache helicopter test engines, the company announced Tuesday.
According to Dave Wilson, communications leader for GE Aviation military systems, the company makes the T901-GE-900 engine, which the U.S. Army plans to test in the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. The GE Aviation plant in Rutland will build some of the key components to this engine, he said.
This contract alone won’t require an increase in hiring, Wilson said, however it does put GE in a good spot to be awarded a production contract should this test phase go well. As far as the prospect of new hiring goes, Wilson said he couldn't speculate on that at this stage.
Wilson said what this does mean is plenty of work for the Rutland operation during the next several years.
He said that Apaches and Black Hawks have been using GE’s T700 engine for more than 30 years.
GE Aviation has been in this area since 1951 when it opened a plant in Ludlow. The Rutland plant opened in 1957. Wilson said GE Aviation employs 1,200 people in the area. He said the company has done well here because of the labor pool.
Mary Cohen, executive director of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday that GE is an anchor business for the area and news of this contract likely means GE will be here for some time. She said the company regularly hires to fill positions of people who’ve retired. It’s currently seeking to about fill about 45 salaried positions. She said the chamber has a good working relationship with GE, helping it attract employees.
Wilson said during the past 10 years, GE has invested $100 million into its Rutland County operations and increased hiring by a third.
“We are honored to be chosen by the Army to continue powering their Black Hawks and Apaches for decades to come,” said Tony Mathis, president and CEO of GE Aviation’s military business, in a statement. “We’ve invested in the resources and infrastructure to execute immediately, and our team is ready to get to work on delivering the improved capabilities of the T901 to the Warfighter.”
The term Warfighter refers to “the servicemembers doing the fighting, the members of the U.S. Army and other services,” Wilson said in an email.
It was announced in October that the U.S. Air Force chose the Boeing T-X aircraft to train advanced pilots. The engine for that aircraft is made by GE Aviation. The company hired more than 150 people that year to keep up with the demand.