Statement At GE Aviation Rutland

[U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) made the following remarks during a visit Tuesday to the GE Aviation facility in North Clarendon, Vermont.  Leahy visited the plant to announce his effort to secure language in the federal government’s 2014 budget that would call on the U.S. Navy to invest in a new, more cost-effective engine for the Navy’s Super Hornet and Growler engines that could lead to new work for GE Aviation’s Rutland operations.  In the past seven months alone, Leahy has announced more than $16 million in work for Rutland employees in making engine components for the Navy’s existing Super Hornet and Growler engines.]

Thank you, Dan, and thank you to all of you here today.  I feel so welcome whenever I come here to visit, and it has been a great pleasure and honor for me as your senator to represent the workers of this facility.

This isn’t the same GE facility I first began visiting decades ago.  The workers here in Rutland are designing processes and making engine components that are cleaner, greener, and better for the environment.  The air foils made by Vermonters are making both commercial and military aircraft more fuel efficient and more reliable.

I take pride in the jet engine work that you do which is so important to our Navy pilots and the troops they support on the ground. 

And it’s that pride that brings me here today.  Earlier this year, I asked Senator Durbin, the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, to include a provision to encourage the Navy to continue its commitment to the world-class, next-generation engines you all make at this facility.

Senator Durbin and I worked together to get the language right and ultimately settled on a report provision that encourages the Navy to develop an upgrade to the F414 engine currently powering the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the E/A-18 Growler aircraft.  This engine will be called the Enhanced Durability Engine.

The new engine will give the Navy options for its fighter jet fleet down the road, and should the engine go into manufacture, it could become a prime and durable source of work for the employees here in the years to come.  GE Aviation has already delivered more than 1,200 F414 engines since production began in 1998, and in that time the F414 has accumulated more than 2 million flying hours.

That sales and performance record is a testament to all of you who do the work right here in Rutland.  And this new engine builds on your outstanding record.

The new engine should save the Navy $5 billion in lifecycle costs through 2043.  If needed, the engine can provide a 20 percent increase in thrust while maintaining today’s exceptional durability.  That quality is something to be proud of, and I’m glad Vermont will have a hand in it.

I’ve never backed away from supporting the work you all do here.  I proudly fought, year after year, to continue the alternate engine program for the F-35.  To this day, I find the decision to cancel that program remarkably shortsighted.  I believe the F136 was a better engine.

Canceling the F136 program might have been penny smart, but it certainly was pound foolish.  I knew that your work could compete side-by-side with any fighter jet engine made anywhere, and win. 

I believe that as long as you all stay in the business of making fighter jet engines, you will demonstrate that America needs you to keep doing the work.  And I consider it an important part of my work in Washington to keep the work coming to this facility.

Please keep working as hard as you are now, showing your customers in the military aircraft community what Vermonters can do.  And I’ll keep working to make sure that as long as there are engine blades and vanes to be made for fighter aircraft, you all will have your shot to compete for that work — because I know you’ll win.

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