You want to be careful not to sound too arrogant, but we have a fantastic group of engineers in this business, on the design, manufacturing and aftermarket sides, so I believe we've got some really strong resources. The great thing about this business is we have a lot of people who have great experience, so there are people in the business with families who have been here for generations. They have been here for their entire careers, and that includes globally as well as here in the U.S.
Do you have any concerns across your supply chain, including about materials that are becoming harder to acquire?
We do a pretty good job of sourcing well in advance where it is appropriate, but for sure, we spend a lot of time focused on our supply chain—focused on making sure that we meet our commitments to the airframers because the order activity and the delivery commitments on new products from all of the airframer OEMs is at an unprecedented level. Our line-of-sight to the materials we need and the production rates we need is pretty tightly controlled.
Is there going to be a quantum leap that makes engines last even longer, or are they going to go the other way, and only be designed to last for 15 years because it is not as cost-effective to insert technology and repairs?
The technology leap that you're seeing on the new engine, both in terms of advanced materials and material properties, just flows directly into the aftermarket. That technology leap exists in the repair investments we're making today, such as repairs for ceramic matrix composites. Nobody has ever developed repairs for CMCs. We're doing that. I think you'll see that level of technology advancement, which has manifested in engines being driven straight into the aftermarket in terms of the products that we're going to offer through the services' businesses. The industry seems to be going through a period of significant change. The products we are producing are a technology leap, and that's the challenge in services. Our customers like our products today, but we need to take the next leap in service offerings.
In Paul McElhinney's first formal sit-down interview with the press, he tells Aviation Week's Lee Ann Tegtmeier about how GE will have to change and innovate to ramp up from servicing 29,000 engines today to 45,900 in 2020.
President and CEO, GE Aviation Services
Role: Assumed current position in May 2011. He is responsible for the MRO of GE's commercial engine fleet and oversees GE's services organization that includes 8,000 employees at 17 locations around the world.