Standalone firm to bring greater focus on purpose, says GE Aerospace's Russell Stokes
Now Reading
GE Aerospace’s Russell Stokes on how the spin-off will play out

GE Aerospace’s Russell Stokes on how the spin-off will play out

Operating as a standalone business will give GE Aerospace the flexibility needed to grow the business, says the president and CEO, Commercial Engines & Services. The Middle East is the firm’s largest market globally for widebody aircraft, between engines in service and on order

Neesha Salian
Interview with Russell Stokes of GE Aerospace on the GE spinoff and its impact April 2

Following a decision taken by General Electric Company (GE) to split into three entities in 2021 and the approval of the company’s board to action the spin-0ff in February this year, GE Vernova and GE Aerospace will launch as independent, public companies on April 2. The companies will be driven by clear strategies for value creation aimed at benefitting their customers, shareholders and employees.

In an interview with Gulf Business, Russell Stokes, president and CEO, Commercial Engines & Services, GE Aerospace, reveals what the spin-off entails for the company and how it will impact its operations in the Middle East.

Stokes leads GE’s $20bn commercial engines and services business, which has a team of more than 12,000 employees responsible for an industry-leading portfolio of engines and services.

Q. Give us insights into the significance of the GE spin-off scheduled for April 2 and its implications for the aerospace division.

Launching as a standalone company allows us to have an even greater focus on living our purpose: inventing the future of flight, lifting people “up” and bringing them home safely.

We have a critical role to play for our customers and the industry – keeping fleets flying and defining the next generation of flight. Many things will stay the same. Our commitment to safety, quality, delivery, and cost (SQDC) in that order, our focus on our customers and our undertaking to be the technology leader in this industry.

Operating as a standalone business, not as a part of a larger organisation, gives us greater latitude to execute ways that we can grow the business. In the Middle East, where we have more than 220 employees and a history of more than 40 years, this will mean a buildup of capabilities on the ground and greater focus for our critically important customers here.

Q. With GE Aerospace being considered the ‘crown jewel’ of the company, what are some key factors that have contributed to its success and prominence in the industry?

We are proud of our talented team, our highly differentiated portfolio of engines and services and our bold mission to invent the future of flight.

Our engine programmes have matured through continuous improvement, so our technology has become more powerful and efficient over the years. We also have the broadest engine portfolio in the industry with narrowbody, widebody, regional, business, and turboprop technology, and the largest, youngest fleet so we are well positioned for the future. In fact, in 2023, nearly three billion people flew with our technology underwing. Demand remains high, contributing to the industry’s success.

Q. How does GE Aerospace maintain its leading position in the market, particularly in terms of its engine offerings for commercial airliners and other aircraft? Could you elaborate on the role of GE Aerospace engines in the global aviation landscape, especially considering their prevalence on Boeing and Airbus aircraft?

We start by staying focused on helping our customers succeed. We continuously invest in our engines to improve fuel efficiency and durability. Today’s engines are 40 per cent more efficient than our first turbofans, and we have a bold vision for the future to cut fuel burn and emissions by 20 per cent more. And this innovation will continue post-launch – we will keep strengthening our position with investments in research and development, which in 2023 exceeded $2bn.

In the region, our Middle East Technology Center (MTC) works continuously with customers to find solutions for the “hot and harsh” environment.  Engineers at MTC worked with our global teams to develop analytics-based maintenance, which helps our customers increase time on the wing and the efficiency of their engines.

When it comes to our services, the open MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) system supports our unique position. This model has shown resilience as engines move throughout their lifecycle, placing us in a strong position as a partner to our customers and the airframers.

Finally, the breadth of our offerings across narrowbody, widebody, and small commercial applications makes us strong.

With our partners, our commercial engines power three out of every four flights, and our defence and systems business has 26,000 engines flying worldwide. We take this responsibility very seriously.

Image: Courtesy GE Aerospace

Q. With global air travel nearly returning to pre-pandemic levels, how does GE Aerospace plan to capitalise on this growth trajectory in the coming years?

We focus on our customers’ needs and are working to improve every day. Given the flying public’s thirst for travel, we’ve seen a strong recovery.

This robust growth is represented in the airframers’ backlogs. As airlines look to expand and modernise their fleets, the industry requires new planes and engines to support the growth of global air travel.

Q. What are the growth projections for the aerospace industry, both globally and regionally, and how does GE Aerospace plan to align its strategies with these projections? Can you discuss the recent sales and orders growth of GE Aerospace in 2023 compared to 2022, and what factors contributed to this growth?

In 2023, GE Aerospace delivered double-digit growth in terms of orders, revenue, and operating profit. Factors contributing to this include strong commercial momentum and strength in services. These represent approximately 70 per cent of our revenue. At the Dubai Airshow in November 2023, we announced an order for 202 GE9X engines and spares with Emirates, bringing their total order for GE9X engines to 460. The Middle East is our largest market globally for widebody aircraft, between engines in service and on order.

As a whole, we are seeing the centre of gravity shifting east, and project a more than 10 per cent increase in deliveries over the next 20 years.

Image courtesy: GE Aerospace

Q. How have innovation and tech advances helped GE Aerospace address sustainability challenges in the aviation industry?

Our RISE (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) demonstrator programme builds on four decades of investment that made our engines cleaner, quieter and more efficient. The future is going to be about RISE, and it will be our most ambitious programme yet.

The revolutionary open-fan technology addresses customers’ needs for greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions. This leverages advancements in combustion and propulsion technologies, to achieve a 20 per cent fuel burn advantage over today’s state-of-the-art engines. We will do ground and flight test demonstrations with RISE later this decade, and we believe the technologies we’re maturing with RISE will be key to addressing the industry’s ambition to be net zero by 2050. In the near term, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is a critical area of focus.

In 2023, GE Aerospace collaborated with Emirates on two 100 per cent SAF flight test demos, the first in the region with a GE90-powered Boeing-777 and the first by an airline on an A380 with the GP7200 engine. We are also a long-time collaborator on Etihad’s sustainability programme, which centres on their fleet of GEnx-powered 787s. We continue to see a particular willingness across the Middle East to pilot programmes, so we look forward to continued collaboration in this space.

Q. What are your key priorities and strategies for driving continued success and growth in the region? Give us some insights into the future direction of GE Aerospace?

In 2024, around the globe and in the Middle East, we’re focused on things that we have to get right today, tomorrow and in the future – with our commitment to safety as our number one priority along with quality. Today, it’s about keeping our customers flying, and ensuring that our customers have the right cost of ownership, the right MRO capability, and the right support to be able to achieve their goals.

Tomorrow is focused on ensuring that we ramp up the newer engine programmes and deliver on the promises that we’ve made about their performance in the field. This includes work specific to the hot and dusty environment across the Middle East, which can impact engine performance.

The future is about focusing on advancing technologies – the next generation of technology that supports more sustainable offerings that all our customers and the industry are looking for.

You might also like


Scroll To Top