Developing ever-more fuel-efficient aircraft is one of the most competitive technical challenges in today’s aerospace world. Companies are searching the globe for the most talented engineers and research scientists to give them that vital competitive edge which will translate into billions of dollars of new orders.
Some are doing more than searching. The John F. Welch Technology Center in Bangalore, India, is aircraft engine manufacturer GE’s first and largest integrated, multidisciplinary research and development centre outside the United States. Over 4,500 scientists, researchers and engineers are working there on developing a range of new concepts within the aviation, energy and related businesses.
GE opened the $175 million research centre in 2000. Since then, the centre’s research scientists have produced a number of vital technology breakthroughs. They have made a major contribution to developing an advanced combustor system which reduces emissions of oxides of nitrogen and improves fuel burn efficiency by 20% over legacy designs. The new combustor features in the GEnx engine, which powers the new Boeing 787.
The centre has benefitted greatly from local access to India’s huge resource of highly-trained personnel and now has over 1,000 patent applications to its credit. The centre works closely with the four other GE facilities that form the GE Global Research network, comprising facilities in the US, Germany, China and Brazil. In addition, GE is also investing in a $200 million manufacturing plant due to be opened at Chakan, near Pune, in 2014 to build a range of aviation and turbo machinery components for the global market.