Canadian Manufacturing

Rolls-Royce investing US$600M to upgrade aero engine plant

The U.K. company is renovating its Indianapolis plant, replacing infrastructure and equipment dating back to World War II



INDIANAPOLIS—Rolls-Royce plans to spend $600 million over the next five years to modernize a decades-old Indianapolis factory complex where it builds aircraft engines.

The British company said the renovation of the plant will reduce its costs by replacing infrastructure and equipment dating back to World War II. The upgrade will add advanced manufacturing methods and consolidate the Indianapolis operations where engines are built for a range of military and commercial aircraft, as well as marine propulsion systems.

Marion Blakey, the president and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America, said the modernization will improve the company’s competitiveness even though no job additions are immediately planned.

“As time goes on, if we’re as competitive as I think we’re going to be, there’re always possibilities then to add new jobs and new positions if you win more business,” Blakey said. “So we have to think of it in those terms.”

Rolls-Royce says it now employs 4,000 people in Indianapolis, including about 1,050 production workers and nearly 1,400 engineers.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard joined company executives at Monday’s announcement. The modernization project will include demolishing an older building and a major renovation of a plant in the factory complex on the city’s south side.

The company announced in February that it had won $442 million in military contracts for the Indianapolis plant to build lift-fan systems for the F-35B fighter jet so it can hover and land vertically like a helicopter.

Rolls-Royce says engines designed, assembled and tested at its Indianapolis facilities are used in military aircraft, civil helicopters, regional and business jets, and power systems for U.S. Navy vessels.

The company said it was receiving about $35 million in state and city incentives toward the modernization projected, including city property tax breaks and up to $17 million in state tax credits.

Rolls-Royce acquired the Indianapolis factory complex when it bought the Allison Engine Co. in 1995.

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